Barbados -- From kayak races to wine tastings, golf tournaments to
triathlons and fish fries to race regattas, the Caribbean is big on
special events help plug the gaps during the low season for tourism
and boost occupancy in peak season.
national heroes, star athletes, literary figures, religious
holidays, art auctions, spring breaks, autumn harvests and even
yams and jerk chicken are fodder for closing shops, schools and
banks and taking to the streets to parade, sing, dance and
the Caribbean in terms of attracting visitors, increasing each
destinations visibility and pumping revenue into a countrys
coffers. And festival creators are getting even more creative,
judging by the imaginative themes of some of the events.
traditional Carnival celebrations occupy their own unique spheres
on every island. Traditionally viewed as the last
opportunity to party before the somber 40 days of Lent that lead up
to Easter, todays secular Carnival celebrations feature street
parties, colorful costumes, music, food and drink.
And nowadays, the
dates of Carnival season vary from island to island. Curacao, for
example, opened its 2006 Carnival season on Jan. 6 and it will run
through Feb. 28.
But St. John, in
the U.S. Virgin Islands, hosts its Carnival celebration in July,
while the Dominican Republic blocks out February and March for its
Carnival season lasts 10 weeks -- from Feb. 17 to April 23 -- with
30 events planned, including numerous street parades that are
expected to draw thousands as they have in past years.
in Trinidad and Tobago, meanwhile, begins immediately after
Christmas, with many parties and daily practice sessions in the pan
yards, birthplace of the steel pan drum.
welcome in the pan yards to watch steelbands practice for the
Panorama competition each January.
The party really
gets rolling on Feb. 27, two days before Ash Wednesday.
At JOuvert, the
daybreak celebration on Carnival Monday, costumed mas (masquerade)
bands take to the streets, chipping in a rhythmic strut to the beat
of pan, calypso and soca. Men and women wearing devil suits smear
each other in mud and oil.
Anyone can march
in the parades, and visitors can buy a costume from one of the
a nationwide pajama party on Feb. 28, the night before the grandest
of its Carnival parades, when thousands of people dressed as wolves
and devils march to the Place de la Victoire to burn giant effigies
called the Carnival Kings.
out the stops in its celebrations, which run from Jan. 9 to March
1. Awards are given to the Carnival king, queen, princesses and
calypso singers. The final event on March 1 is called Vaval and is
a ceremonious burying of the spirit of Carnival and the beginning
But there is also
life before and after all the Caribbean Carnival
22 years of drag racing on the island with what tourism officials
bill as the Garage Central Extravaganza Drag Race on April 28 and
Bermuda will host
its first-ever International Love Festival from Feb. 16 to 20.
Events include musical performances, couples massages, ballroom
dance and salsa lessons, a gospel brunch and a love commitment
were selected by Ewart Brown, minister of tourism and transport,
and his wife, Wanda Henton-Brown.
Belize will host
its ninth annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge, billed as the
longest canoe race in Central America, March 3 to 6. The
competition attracts hundreds of extreme canoeists from around the
globe, including teams from the U.S., Canada, England, Mexico and
More than 90
teams of canoeists are expected to participate. The race route runs
west to east along the Macal and Belize rivers, once the only link
between San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and
the port of Belize City.
In addition to
being hailed as Belizes most competitive sporting event, La Ruta
Maya River Challenge also is one of its largest collaborative
organized in 1998 to protect the Belize River valley, the race
still upholds the spirit of preserving, restoring and revitalizing
this waterway, according to an event director. Proceeds go to local
environmental groups to help sustain and keep the river
The Emerald Isle
-- that would be Montserrat, not Ireland, in this instance --
celebrates St. Patricks Day, traditionally March 17, for an entire
week, from March 12 to 18, this year. The first European settlers
in Montserrat were Irish, and St. Paddys Day is still celebrated
here to commemorate the motherlands patron saint.
March 17 also is
notable in Montserrat as the day on which the islands slaves staged
a revolt and marched on Government House in 1768.
place throughout the island, highlighted by performances and
musical concerts such as the Many Happy Returns II gala, staged at
The highlight of
the week is March 13, when a Freedom Walk and Run starts in the
village of Cudjoe Head.
A slave village
will be set up at Festival Village in Little Bay with individually
decorated huts. Slave feasts will be cooked and served from the
Calypso, soca and
iron band music, street parades, colorful costumes, the wearing of
green and the use of the shamrock as an emblem are part and parcel
of St. Patricks Day on Montserrat.
Bonaire will host
its Dive Into Adventure Bonaire 2006 event from June 17 to
formerly known as the Bonaire Dive Festival and now in its eighth
year, will continue to focus on diving and marine conservation but
will add some adventure elements this time around.
Daily diving will
be supplemented by kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, mountain
biking, digital photo workshops and underwater
event schedules, contact numbers and links are at www.onecaribbean.org.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].