Guadeloupe is overflowing with events that celebrate their cultural heritage, as well as popular activities, and things that matter most to the people of the island. Music festivals are particularly popular in Guadeloupe, as are events that honor the surrounding seas.
If you can go to only one of Guadeloupe's annual events, make it Carnival. The event takes place during the week before Ash Wednesday, and consists of islanders dressed up in colorful, masquerade costumes, reveling in the streets. There are two main parades, one in Pointe-à-Pitre and the other on Basse-Terre. The day before Ash Wednesday sees the people dressed as black and white devils dancing in the streets, and that night islanders “cremate” a stuffed dummy called King Vaval.
October is when Guadeloupe honors its Creole heritage with Creole Week. International Creole Day takes place during this week as well, and the week long festivities include poetry readings, theatrical performances, and musical concerts.
For two days in February, sailors race their boats from Saint-François to Pointe-des-Châteaux at the Saint François Open Trophy Race.
The Festival of Fish and the Sea is part fishing competition, part sailing competition, part food festival that puts its focus on all things belonging to the sea. The event takes place in April on Grande-Terre.
In May Guadeloupe hosts the French Surfing Competition. Over 200 long boarders, body boarders, and body surfers compete in Anse-Bertrand, Grande-Terre, and Saint-François.
One of the island's most unique sporting events is the Karujet Jet Ski World Championship, which takes place in June. Professional jet skiers race from Pointe-à-Pitre harbour, through nine obstacles, and end in Petit-Bourg.
August is when the Marie-Galante Traditional Sailboat Race takes place. The race begins in Saint-Louis, and racers hit Grand-Bourg and Capesterre, before returning to Saint-Louis.
August is also when the Guadeloupe Cycling Race takes place. During this event, ten professional cycling teams complete a 1300km race in Pointe-à-Pitre.
The Triskell Cup, a late season regatta, happens each year in October. Sailors from multiple Caribbean islands race their catamarans, multihulls, and spinnakers around Le Gosier.
Blues music rings out loud once a year in May, when blues musicians from around the world descend on the island of Marie Galante for several days, to play in a series of musical concerts. In some years there are also related events, including screenings of documentaries about this history of creole blues music.
Started in 2000, and originally called the Creole Blues Festival, it now goes by the moniker Terre de Blues Festival of Marie-Galante. Concerts take place throughout several days in multiple locations.
June is a great month for visitors looking to dance to the beats of traditional island music. The Antilles Music Festival, which takes place in both Guadeloupe and Martinique features zouk, gwo ka, and biguine music. Gwo ka is also celebrated with its own festival in June, at the Gwo Ka Festival, and zouk is the center of attention at the Guadeloupe International Zouk Festival.
If you love reggae and jazz, November's Gwadloup Festival features the best of local acts performing their hits.
In December, attendees can vote for their favorite singer at the Festival of the Old Creole Song, or jam to live jazz at the International Ilo Jazz Festival.
Movie lovers won't want to miss a few screenings that a part of the Guadeloupe International Film Festival in January. Award categories center on films that promote the Caribbean lifestyle.
Crab is king at the Morne à l'Eau Crab Festival, which takes place in April. Visitors can sample multiple varieties and recipes of crabs while listening to live music and checking out booths set up to sell crafts and other goodies.
...don't miss the annual Conch Festival...
If you are in Guadeloupe in April, there is an event you won't want to miss, just so you can say that you once saw not one, but many goats in a fashion show. During the La Désirade Goat Festival, goats parade about in people clothing for a fancy dress fashion show. You will also have the opportunity to sample goat cooked in a variety of ways during the event.
If you'd like to sample conch, and lots of it, don't miss the annual Conch Festival in November. The event is held in Vieux-Bourg, and features dozens of conch recipes for sampling, as well as booths of handmade crafts for purchasing.
In August, Guadeloupe hosts a five hour banquet that serves up traditional Creole cuisine called the Festival of the Women Cooks. The goal of the banquet is to share traditional food with all who wish to attend.
Education is front and center in October, at the Science Festival. Local schools, libraries, and research organizations come together each year to discuss and learn about the latest in science and technology. The event is free to all who wish to attend.
The entire month of November is Documentary Film Month. Films from France that are rarely seen are screened at various times throughout the month in schools, libraries, and theaters.
For more information on what events will be taking place during your Guadeloupe stay, contact the Guadeloupe Department of Tourism, the concierge desk at your hotel, or the local paper. Events and their dates often vary each year, so you never know what happenings will be going on during your time on the island.
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