Essential info about what’s happening across the region to help you make the most of July and August!
Tobago’s rich cultural heritage is on show at the Tobago Heritage Festival, which runs from mid-July to the beginning of August. Visitors can explore the island’s history and culture through events celebrating its dance, storytelling, food, music, and so much more. Crowd favourites include the Ole Time Tobago Wedding in Moriah, as well as Folk Tales & Superstitions in Les Coteaux. The costumes, smiles, and passionate performances are irresistible as Tobagonians honour their heritage and traditions.
Named for the resilience and versatility of the calabash, the Montserrat Calabash Festival (17–23 July) showcases the creativity of local artisans and the island’s rich culture with live performances, hikes, a family day, boat excursions, and culinary experiences.
The biggest names in reggae and dancehall converge for Reggae Sumfest (20–23 July) in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The star-studded line-up includes Shenseea, Dexta Daps, Spice, Christopher Martin, and some of your favourite legends.
Powerful wind and waves test sailors on the high seas at the Grand Bahama Regatta (21–23 July). Sailors in Class B and C sloops compete in races off Taino Beach, Lucaya for top prizes and the coveted “Champion of the Sea” title.
Emancipation Day (1 August) commemorates the official end of slavery in British colonies in 1834. It is celebrated across the English-speaking Caribbean with performances, processions, lectures, exhibitions, and historical re-enactments to both entertain and enlighten.
There are similar celebrations in Suriname a month earlier — their Keti Koti festival, meaning “broken chains”, commemorates abolition in the Dutch-speaking Caribbean (1 July 1863).
Energetic tassa drumming drives the multi-day Hosay festivities in Trinidad (culminating around 8 August), the island’s incarnation of Islamic Muharram observances. Shia Muslim celebrants carry multi-coloured moons and tadjahs — interpretations of the tomb of Hussein, the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad — on their shoulders through the streets of St James and Cedros. There are also observances in Jamaica, Suriname, and Guyana.
Vincy Mas (St Vincent)
24 June–5 July
The non-stop action includes main events like J’Ouvert, Soca Monarch, Panorama, and the Parade of the Bands through the streets of Kingstown
Fusions of reggae, soca, dancehall, and calypso fuel the parades and parties leading up to the National Carnival Road March, where bands of masqueraders compete for supremacy
St Lucia Carnival
Revelry with Lucian flair means parties, competitions, and pumping to the island’s distinctive Dennery Segment music alongside soca and calypso
27 July–2 August
Closely tied to Emancipation commemorations, the festive season of shows and parades culminates with an explosion of colour, music, and celebration in the streets of St John
Caribana (Toronto, Canada)
28 July–1 August
Toronto’s Caribbean diaspora celebrates the region’s culture in an incredible display of visual and performing arts, costumes, and revelry
Crop Over (Barbados)
29 July–2 August
An entire season of dusk-til-dawn parties, arts and craft markets, and culinary street fairs climaxes with an epic masquerade at Grand Kadooment on the first Monday in August
Let the energy of the Jab Jab power you through the Spicemas season, from the Calypso Finals on Fantastic Thursday (4 August) to the Parade of the Bands on Tuesday (9 August)
Havana Carnival (Cuba)
The city is filled with spectacular music, conga lines, extravagant costumes, and fireworks. Strains of traditional and contemporary music fill the air as the parade runs the length of the Malecon
Notting Hill Carnival (London, England)
Samba bands, masquerade bands, steelbands and more bands celebrate the Carnival spirit at one of Europe’s largest street festivals. There are activities for kids, lots of good food, and live music stages playing everything from Afrobeats to house music.
Leaps of faith
The Soleil Short Film Saturday x Third Horizon series continues this July with Jamaican Kia Moses’ debut film, Flight — which follows a Jamaican boy at a crossroads in his life who sets his sights on flying to the moon; and Barbadian Melanie Grant’s Book of Jasmine — which follows a woman torn between her spirituality and her sexuality, and on a journey for answers.
The July instalment of the series — a partnership between Soleil Space and the Third Horizon Film Festival to showcase short films from the Caribbean diaspora — streams 9th July at 12pm EST on the Soleil Space YouTube channel (youtube.com/soleilspace). Q&As with the filmmakers will follow the screenings.