Summer may not be peak travel season for the Caribbean, but it’s a great time for travelers interested in attending special events, as islands around the region kick off a variety of festivals and celebrations.
Among the newest summer events in the Caribbean is For Alumni By Alumni — also known as FABA Fest — which will debut June 15-18 in Barbados during Juneteenth weekend as a celebration of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and African culture.
Bonaire is hosting multiple events that are relatively new to the calendar, as well. The island’s second-annual Rum Week will run June 12-17 to celebrate the much-loved spirit, while the first-ever Yoga & Wellness Festival will take place June 19-25 at Bindu Yoga & Healing Center.
Curacao, meanwhile, will be celebrating its 10th Curacao Pride from June 7-12; details have yet to be announced, but last year’s event included a pool party, pride walk, art exposition, car rally and sea parade.
Many events in the Caribbean go back centuries. The Barbados Crop Over Festival, for example, marks the end of the harvest season and dates to the late 17th century. This year’s event will take place May 25 to Aug. 7. And Bastille Day, which takes place July 14, commemorates the beginning of the French revolution in the 18th century. It’s celebrated in French-speaking islands such as St. Barts, where fireworks will light the sky and properties like Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth offer additional themed activities.
Food and Carnival
The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are staging a variety of events this summer, including the eighth-annual St. Kitts and Nevis Restaurant Week from July 13-23 and Nevis Culturama Festival from July 27 to Aug. 8, which provides a platform for traditional folk art, including theater, arts and crafts, dance and music.
The Bahamas is also hosting multiple events, including the Eleuthra Pineapple Festival on June 2-3; a 50th- anniversary independence celebration on July 10; the Goombay Summer Festivals, which take place every Thursday in July; and the Junkanoo Summer Festival, which occurs every Saturday in July and features a lively carnival and parade.
Speaking of carnival: There are several opportunities to tap into carnival excitement around the region this summer. While some may associate the tradition with pre-Lenten Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the celebrations in the Caribbean are more varied in terms of their timing (except for Trinidad, which celebrates on a similar schedule to Rio and the Big Easy).
For summertime carnival excitement, consider booking a trip for the St. Lucia Carnival that runs July 1-19; Antigua’s Carnival, which takes place July 27 to Aug. 8; or Grenada’s Spicemas in August. The U.S. Virgin Islands actually host three carnivals every year, including the summertime St. John Festival from late June to July 4.
Music Festivals and Hotel Events
Top music events in the coming months include the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival from May 5-14; this year will feature Sting and Shaggy among performers. In Montego Bay from July 16-22, Jamaica’s Reggae SumFest will showcase Jamaican performers such as Chronic Law and Kabaka Pyramid, while the St. Kitts Music Festival from June 22-24 will feature Australian pop duo Air Supply, Jamaican singer Chronixx and Vincentian musician Skinny Fabulous. Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour will offer additional on-site programming to complement the music festival.
In fact, several hotels are hosting their own on-site festivals this summer. Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, for one, is home to the Seafire Wellness Festival, which runs July 12-17 and is billed as Grand Cayman’s biggest such event. With wellness gurus from various countries leading sessions focused on yoga, meditation, nutrition, fitness and better sleep (there are even Wim Hof breathwork and ice-bath classes), it’s ideal for anyone interested in self-improvement.
In St. Lucia, three hotels are providing interesting themed events this summer.
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa has introduced new “themed months” this year, with fresh activities every month. In June, the theme is Romance, with special events such as a jazz serenade wine and cheese party and “sip and paint” classes. And both Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet are hosting the Mango Madness Festival, a tasty tribute to the popular, locally grown fruit. Both hotels have mango-focused programs that include cooking classes, harvesting tours and mixology classes, as well as a grand finale gala called Night of 1,000 Mangos — a five-course dinner featuring, well, you know what.