Essential info about what’s happening across the region in November and December!
Divali, the Hindu lunar festival of light — observed 12 November this year — is a celebration of Lord Rama and his wife Sita’s return from exile and defeating the demon Rawan. Hindu communities in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana honour the victory of good over evil and light over darkness with prayers, gatherings, concerts, motorcades, and rangoli, while beautiful deyas — placed on bamboo bent into elaborate shapes and designs — illuminate the night, bringing joy to onlookers of all faiths. And, of course, sharing and enjoying Indian sweets (including barfi, kurma, gulab jamon), phoulorie, saheena, kachori is a must!
The festive season
Sint Maarten Flavours will tantalise tastebuds ceaselessly through November’s month-long culinary celebrations, serving up signature dishes and cocktails from local restaurants.
Avast ye! The pirates have returned to the Cayman Islands for Pirates Fest. Experiencing costume and heritage competitions, street dances, and the mock pirate “invasion” might spare you from walking the plank. The festival’s first stop is Little Cayman (3–5 November), then Grand Cayman (9–19 November), and Cayman Brac (24–26 November). Aaaaarrrggghhhhh!!
Don your running shoes and choose the distance that best suits you at the New York City Marathon (5 November), Cuba’s Marabana Marathon (19 November), the Curaçao Marathon (25–26 November), and Run Barbados (8–10 December).
Challenging courses and new encounters await mountain bikers at the Kärcher Coral Estate Classic (12 November) and Kärcher Duo Xtreme (19 November) in Curaçao.
Garifuna Settlement Day (19 November) celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna people in Belize with traditional dances, parades and food, following a re-enactment depicting the arrival of Garinagu people to Belize’s shores via canoe exactly 200 years ago.
A “lobster crawl”, otherwise known as a bar crawl, kicks off the Anegada Lobster Fest (24–26 November). Each participating restaurant caters to seafood and meat lovers, alongside entertainment by live bands or popular DJs, plus prizes and giveaways.
The hills are alive with the sound of … parang! Festive parang music intensifies at Christmastime in the hills of Paramin in northern Trinidad. Parranderos there and in Carriacou serenade patrons, while others compete in competitions through parang season.
100 days of Christmas in Trinidad gets even better with the joyful voices of the Marionettes Chorale at their popular Christmas with the Marionettes series (1–3 December). They celebrate their 60th anniversary this year.
And in Antigua, the melodic sounds of pan fill the air with cheer at Gemonites Moods of Pan (2–3 December) under the stars.
Hosts of artisans and small businesses across the Caribbean diaspora gather at Christmas markets with seasonal fare. Check out the Toronto Christmas Market, aka the Distillery District Winter Village, if you’re up north. In the chill of winter, it warms you up with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, live performances, amusement rides, ice skating, and artisan products.
A splendid lantern competition — the Festival of Light — takes over St Lucia the first week of December. Representing the triumph of light over darkness, it culminates with the Parade of Lanterns (12 December) through the streets of Castries, with fireworks following a Christmas show and light ceremony at the Derek Walcott Square.
For nine mornings leading up to Christmas day in St Vincent, start your days with fetes, street concerts, sea baths and more at the Nine Mornings Festival from approximately 4:00am.
Each year is noticeably better than the next as two neighbourhoods in the Cuban town of Los Remedios try to outdo each other with their tremendous display of pyrotechnics and elaborate floats in Las Parrandas de Remedios (24 December).
Meanwhile, St Kitts Sugar Mas (15 December–2 January), Montserrat Carnival (16 December–2 January), and Junkanoo (pictured) in The Bahamas (26 December–1 January) both end and launch the annual Caribbean carnival seasons.
Say goodbye to the old year with the vibrant Owru Yari Festival (31 December) in Paramaribo, Suriname. Here, music and parades pause for the lighting of a half-mile string of firecrackers, causing a thrilling (and deafening) spectacle that locals say will bring good luck for the year ahead.