The people of Trinidad and Tobago are proud of their diverse heritage, and celebrate all that makes their island nation unique – and they do it often. Chances are there will be a festival of some sort going on during your stay; whether it be cultural, musical, or athletic. Make plans to attend a street festival, listen to local music, or cheer on the winning yacht at a regatta.
...Carnaval was voted as the Best Festival...
Carnaval is the Caribbean's premier cultural event, with over 40,000 visitors arriving on Trinidad and Tobago alone to celebrate the flashy event. In Trinidad and Tobago Carnaval is celebrated in February or March, and is a huge street party and cultural event. Attendants dance to soca and calypso music as they parade down main roads in tattered, sparkly clothing, feathered head dress, and other costumes that evoke images of a more lively masquerade ball. The event features a soca music competition, a steel pan band competition, the crowning of the Carnaval King and Queen, and a showcasing of ornately decorated Carnaval costumes (some are so extravagant that they weigh up to 200 lbs). Trinidad's version of Carnaval was voted as the Best Festival in by Caribbean Travel + Life's readers in the 2011 "Best of the Caribbean" awards, and National Geographic's "Top 10 Pre-Lenten Celebrations."
Emancipation from slavery on Trinidad and Tobago became official on August 1, 1834, and this day is celebrated every August in Port of Spain. There are performances of both traditional and modern song and dance, plus booths with food and crafts.
Tobago Heritage Festival
In August, each village on Tobago puts on a dramatic or musical performance to honor the African heritage of the island.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a national holiday that occurs in November. It is a Hindu celebration, though all denominations take part in the event. Many people wear East Indian clothing, there is much prayer, religious ceremony, performances, and lighting of deyahs.
Panorama Steel Pan Festival
The Panorama Steel Pan Festival is the January celebration of Trinidad and Tobago's national instrument, the steel pan.
Jazz Artists on the Greens
Local jazz musicians put on a night of fine music each March on the lawn of the UWI Centre for the Creative and Festival Arts.
Tobago Jazz Festival
For eleven days at the end of April, Tobago hosts the Tobago Jazz Experience. Music lovers from around the world converge to hear the sounds of jazz, soca, Latin, R&B, world beat, and reggae. The event is so popular that airlines like Caribbean Airlines increases their domestic service capacity by about 35 percent.
Tobago International Gospel Festival
Celebrate the power of gospel music with a two-day event in June featuring performances by local gospel artists.
San Fernando Jazz Festival
In October, the San Fernando Jazz Festival takes place atop San Fernando Hill. Tickets cost between TT$200 and TT$350.
Tobago Carnaval Race
The Tobago Carnaval Race, held in February, features a series of regatta races, including Optimist and Bum Boat races, wind surfers, and kite boarders. The event is more than a chance to watch the races. On shore activities, such as a pig roast, bonfire, and on-shore games round out the party.
Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament
The Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament is held in Charlotteville each March. Anglers compete to catch the largest yellowfin tuna, blue and white marlin, wahoo, dolphin, and sailfish.
Carib Great Race
Expert sailors sail from Port-of-Spain to Crown Point every August, in the toughest power boat race in the Caribbean.
Buccoo Goat and Crab Race Festival
Annual 100-meter goat race and much shorter crab race held in April with much pomp and circumstance.
Angostura Tobago Sail Week
The Angostura Tobago Sail Week is a week of regatta races around Crown Point in May.
Great Fete Weekend
Great Fete Weekend is known as the best beach party in the Caribbean. The five day party takes place at Store Bay and features such themed days as Welcome Wednesday, RetroActive Thursday, Free Drinks Friday, Sandbox Wet Fete, and Breakfast Party Sunday.
Taste T&T Festival
Sample dishes made by some of Trinidad and Tobago's most inspiring chefs each May in Port-of-Spain.
This is just the beginning. Each month numerous events and festivals bring the streets of Trinidad and Tobago to life. As you explore the islands you are sure to hear talk of the upcoming celebrations. Make plans to take the time to attend one during your vacation; it will provide you with a real sense of what means the most to the islanders.
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