Throughout the entire year, the island of St. Lucia is bursting with exciting events and festivals that celebrate the island’s heritage and lifestyle.
Whether you’re planning a Caribbean vacation to this popular destination in the summertime or during winter, the island promises to have a thrilling event awaiting your enjoyment. The festivities hosted on the island range from billfish tournaments to holidays celebrating different types of flowers.
As the island comes alive during the spring, it is accompanied by an array of exciting events and festivals. Travelers are invited to celebrate St. Lucia’s national Independence Day during February, when natives are bursting with patriotism and pride for their island. Independence was achieved in 1979, and throughout the week events include parades, calypso tents, and kite flying tournaments.
During Holy Week in April, guests may partake in a variety of Catholic traditions, including mass services, religious meals and other Catholic practices. This week is known as being the most subdued time on the island.
After the humble celebration of Holy Week, the island blossoms back to its partying tendencies with the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival. Held for two weeks around the end of April and begining of May each year, this festival showcases the island’s stunning selection of jazz musicians as well as international jazz stars. The bulk of the celebrations revolve around the beautiful Pigeon Island, however, jazz performances are set up around the island to encourage locals to get out and renew their love for their home island while experiencing great music, and for tourists to find an excuse to visit these spots for the first time.
For something a little more on the physical side, St. Lucia hosts the Squash Open during the spring, where squash players participate in a casual setting -- though it remains a competition at heart.
...costumed bands invade the streets...
During the summer months, St. Lucia celebrates the warmth of their hottest season with a host of different events. During June, the famous St. Lucia Carnival takes over the island with an enormous street festival that emphasizes the island’s playful spirit. Guests crowd the streets to catch a glimpse of the decorative costumes that parade down the streets of Casteries, and patrons dance to live calypso music. This free event is an excellent opportunity to sample some of the island’s popular soca, a pastry-like concoction that will delight your taste buds. The highlight of the festival occurs on Carnival Tuesday, when costumed bands invade the streets for a Mardi Gras-style party.
Another activity that takes place for an extended period of time in the summer is the Kid's Safari Summer. Local and visiting children between the ages of five and 18 get together throughout the summer to participate in outdoorsy activities, learn about local history, so crafts, and much more.
Kids aren't the only ones invited to hike over the summer. Adults and kids alike can participate in World Environment Day in June. The event is organized by the St. Lucia Nationa Trust and brings thousands of people together to walk in support of the environment.
For a culinary treat, head to the Dennery Fish Festival. Held annually on the last Sunday of June, this seafood-themed event showcases St. Lucia’s passion for all things relating to the sea. In addition to a wide selection of different fish dishes, the festival includes sailing, swimming, rowing and other sporting events that bring out the competitive side of locals. Entrance is complimentary, making this an ideal activity for families and travelers on a budget. If you’re interested in checking out the Dennery fish scene during any other time of year, scope out their Fish Market that is held every Saturday throughout the year. Another popular holiday involving fish is the annual Fisherman’s Faest on St. Peter’s Day in June. This event commences with a church service, which is followed by a religious blessing of boats and a festive party.
In the later summer month of August, St. Lucia hosts their fancy Rose Festival. This event is entirely dedicated to its namesake flower, and highlights the Feast of Saint Rose De Lima, which occurs on August 30. Prior to the feast, the island engages in a month-long celebration of roses. Every Saturday during August, the streets of St. Lucia come alive as locals don their best outfits and spend the evening singing and participating in dancing competitions. During the festival’s Grand Fête, live musicians jumpstart a nightlong party with drums and maracas.
As the heat of summer gives way to slightly cooler months, St. Lucia continues the festivities with a selection of fall fun. On of the first events of the season is Nevis Race Week. Three world-class tournaments take place during this time,involving horse racing, motor sports, and running. Contrasting the glamour of the Rose Festival, St. Lucia’s annual Feast of La Marguerite pays homage to a more humble flower, the daisy. Each year on October 17, the followers of La Marguerite celebrate their preferred flower with a religious ceremony that is followed by a costumed parade and live music. International Creole Day, also known as Jounen Kweyol Day is celebrated in October each year. This day features a huge selection of various Creole dishes, as well as live Creole-style musical performances. The event is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
At the end of October, the Rodney Bay Marina holds a weeklong St. Lucia Billfish Tournament. Attracting fisherman from around the globe, this event is a seafood lover’s dream, complete with a lively competition and plenty of dishes featuring freshly caught fish. Guests will be dazzled as stunning vessels take to the sea in the morning, then return to the docks to display enormous billfish.
Also near the end of October, visitors have the opportunity to gorge themselves on top notch gourmet food. The St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival draws the best of the best in food, wine, and rum from around the Caribbean, in hopes of promoting island gastronomy. Wine and rum tastings as well as full meals at five-star St. Lucian restaurants are a part of the festival.
As October turns into November, locals participate in an event called All Souls Day, where they honor the dead by keeping a vigil lamp burning in their homes and beautifying the cemetaries. A similar event is Rememberance Day for those who fought in the World Wars.
If health and wellness is of interest to you, you won't want to miss the St. Lucia Health and Wellness Retreat in November. Experts meet to cover an array of topics on the matter, allowing those with interest to learn and grow.
By the end of November each year, participants of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers have begun to arrive. The event, which is the longest trans-Atlantic regatta in the world begins in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and sees boaters of all ages sail through Europe, the Mediterranean, and then end their original journey on St. Lucia. Although much of the event takes place at sea, St. Lucia plays a good host to sailors when they arrive on the island.
Towards the end of the year, St. Lucians dive into the holiday spirit. On December 13, the island celebrates National Day. This event lasts all day and stretches into the evening. Vacationers will enjoy partaking in the various activities that accompany the festivities, including sporting competitions, cultural activities and religious ceremonies. Also occurring during this time is the island’s Festival of Lights and Renewal. On this holiday, natives participate in a traditional lantern-making competition that illuminates the streets.
Another top December event to be aware of is the Heineken Kalalu World Music Festival. Here, authentic Caribbean, African, and Latin music is on display with live performances by well-known musicians from around the world, plus there are arts booths and lots of food to be had.
January brings the New Year's Fair, which includes cultural events, music, food and drink, and street fairs; then in February, Cricket Season kicks off and the island participates in International Earth Day.
Some events simply can't be contained to just one season. In particular, there is something about a Friday on the island that gets people excited. Friday Night Street Parties take place in both Gros Islet and Anse La Raye, where locals and visitors get together in the streets for music, dance, food, and fun.
With so many exciting events and festivals happening throughout the year, it may seem difficult to hone in on the best time to visit St. Lucia. However, travelers can take solace in the fact that despite the ultimate timeframe of their vacation, it is nearly guaranteed that vacationers will always make it in time for a thrilling St. Lucian-style celebration. From fishing festivals and musical events to religious holidays and cultural celebrations, the Caribbean island of St. Lucia knows how to throw a party.
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