Cultural life in the region is enhanced by a full calendar of festivals throughout the year, many of which have developed a serious international following. Here are some of the best:
Bahamas International Film Festival
Since its 2004 debut, BIFF has showcased international films and those related to the Bahamas, and has presented awards to invited Hollywood stars such as Heather Graham and Johnny Depp.
St Kitts Music Festival
Summer may be the off-season in the Caribbean, but St Kitts comes alive in June for the three days of the St Kitts Music Festival, celebrating its 16th year in 2012. The list of local and international artists who have performed here is staggering: Caribbean stars such as Shaggy, Sean Paul and Wyclef Jean as well as international greats such as Chaka Khan and Michael Bolton.
Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival
A spin off from the renowned North Sea Festival in the Netherlands, Curacao’s version debuted in 2010 and has already welcomed stars such as John Legend, Sting and Stevie Wonder. In 2012, Santana, Jill Scott and Ruben Blades are scheduled to play in the intimate stadium a short walk from beautiful Willemstad.
St Barth Film Festival
Launched in 1996, St Barth Film Festival is dedicated to films from the Caribbean region, most recently showcasing films from Cuba and the French islands. St Barth may be a tiny island, but events such as the film festival ensure it maintains a worldwide reputation.
St Lucia Jazz Festival
To give an idea of the impact of this two-week long festival, which debuted in 1992, look no further than 2012’s headline act: Diana Ross. Arguably the biggest music festival in the Caribbean, St Lucia Jazz regularly brings down Grammy-winning artists and regional stars. The festival is enhanced by the variety of venues spread across the island, ranging from big concerts to free fringe events.
Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival
Started in 2006, ‘ttff’ is already a respected gauge of local and international talent, honoring films from the Caribbean and beyond, with the ultimate aim of stimulating Caribbean film-making. One more for the film buffs, but an excellent opportunity to see something away from the mainstream in a beautiful setting.
Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival
Four days of tastings, demonstrations and fine dining on the island that has mastered epicurean pursuits is a recipe for success. Launched in 2010, this food festival draws big-name chefs down to the island for cooking demonstrations in breathtaking locations. A foodie delight.