Barbados Crop Over 2012

The Top 6 Caribbean Festivals You Need To Attend

The Caribbean is the holy grail of real party-goers.

Its music festivals attract tourists from around the world, but which ranks on top?

We’ve compiled a list of the most popular, most celebrated, and most loved festivals held in the Caribbean. There are a lot of similar lists out there but we made our own based on experience. 

1. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival


Trinibagonians often say they do only two things, either celebrate or prepare for carnival. 

Observed on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is a worshiped event. It features long processions, lively dancing, and fabulous masquerades. 

Trinidad Carnival is also celebrated in different cities worldwide such as Miami, London, and New York. The festival was historically related to Calypso Music but Soca recently emerged and has become even more popular. Steelpan music also plays a major role in the celebration and during the Canboulay music contests. 

Revelers will also be able to enjoy various Caribbean music genres such as Reggae, Zouk, Dominican music, and dancehall music.

Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 1st among all of the Caribbean festivals so it won’t be a surprise if you find soca celebrities like Patrice Roberts in the streets dancing to the tunes of her music during this festival. Get more information here: 

2. Reggae Sumfest


Reggae is what Jamaicans are most proud of. What better way to celebrate their prowess in creating reggae music than to hold ‘The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth’? Nothing. 

Reggae sumfest is a 7-day nonstop celebration of music, culture, and art in the Caribbean. Started in 1993, it is considered by many as a modern festival featuring Caribbean Culture and Music since most of the festivals in the region were founded during the Colonial Period. 

Aside from reggae, the festival also features a wide range of Caribbean music genres such as calypso, dancehall, soca, and various instrumentals.

It is organized every summer in Montego Bay where music fans and artists gather. 

Some regulars to the events are the following: 

  • WCK
  • Kassav
  • Skinny Fabulous
  • Lyma Dunbar
  • Asa Banton
  • Damian “Junior Gong” Marley and Stephen Marley
  • The Mighty Diamonds
  • Toots & the Maytals
  • Beres Hammond
  • Tony Rebel
  • Andy Vernon
  • Frankie Paul, and
  • Freddie McGregor

Dancehall music stars like Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, Tommy Lee Sparta, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, Capleton, and Lady Saw have also performed as well as international artists including 50 Cent, Rihanna and Usher.

 It will be celebrated this year on July 12-18 so you better start planning if you want to taste Reggae in its motherland. You can find more details about this year’s reggae sumfest here: 

3. St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Fest


Considered an international event, St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival is celebrated annually in the Caribbean. The festival features the most prominent Jazz, R&B, Dancehall and of course Calypso artists. The event is ranked 3rd in the Caribbean. 

Recent artists include: Kelly, Herbie Hancock, Courtney Pine, Ocacia, Branford Marsalis, En Vogue, George Benson, Santana, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Isley Brothers, UB40, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Luther Vandross, Trey Songz, Rihanna, Elton John, John Legend, Mario, Ne-Yo, Zionomi, Amy Winehouse, Angie Stone, Ciara, Boyz II Men, India.Arie, Smokey Robinson, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

They will be celebrating it this year from April 30th to May 10th. For those who are interested in dabbling in with popular Jazz artists this year, go to:

4. World Creole Music Festival (WCMF)


World Creole Music Festival is one of the only music festivals in the Caribbean that features purely indigenous music genres such as Cadence-lypso, Kompa, Zouk, Soukous, Bouyon, Zydec, Soca, Spouge, Steelpan, Ripsaw, Rocksteady, Scratch, and the popular Reggae and Dancehall Music. It occurs every year on the 30th of October to the 1st of November, three nights of pulsating rhythms. 

Various artists have flocked to WCMF annually to participate such as Kassav’, Tabou Combo, Exile One, Gramacks/New Generation, WCK, Triple Kay Global, T-Vice, First Serenade, Zouk Machine, Magnum Band, Zin, Taxi Creole, Carimi among others as well as solo artists like Ophelia Marie, Michele Henderson, Tanya St. Val, Sakis, and Francky Vincent.

If you want to know more, here’s a link to their official website:  

5. Crop Over


Crop Over is one of the most vibrant ‘Harvest Festivals’ in the world. The Barbadians were the first one to celebrate it during the colonial period. 

The festival features singing, dancing and making music using bottles filled with water, shak-shak, banjo, triangle, violins, guitar, and bones. You will be able to hear traditional music and also calypso, calypso jazz, fling, iron band, ragga-soca, spouge, tuk, dancehall, and soca. 

Some of the traditional activities include climbing up a greased pole, feasting traditional food, and of course drinking competitions. It is traditionally celebrated after the sugar cane harvest (the reason why they called it as Harvest Home before) which was carried over and developed overtime to a large carnival similar to the carnivals of Brazil and Trinidad Islands.

For more information about this festival, head to their official website at: 

6. Pirate’s Week


This must be the grandest event for pirate fans out there. It is a kind Caribbean festival where “pirates” not only raid, but participate in street dances, music competitions, games, parades, and sport events. 

The festival usually starts with steel pan competition and ends with spectacular fireworks exhibitions. The festival features Caribbean music genres such as bouyon, cadence-lypso, calypso, compas, Jing ping, punta, reggae, reggaeton, soca, and zouk.

For more information, you can visit their official site here: 

Which festival in the Caribbean is your favorite?