Tobago is a great vacation destination in the Caribbean as there are lots of festivals and major events throughout the year. As with so many ethnic backgrounds blending together, there are numerous celebrations showcasing the vibrant culture and heritage of the island which enchants visitors and locals alike. Plus the fragrance of curry, fish, fruits and spices fill the air and entice the appetite.
The Tobago festival season kicks off in April with the world famous Tobago Jazz Festival. This event presented by the Division of Tourism & Transporation in conjunction with the Tobago House of Assembly is an eleven day celebration of jazz, along with the home-grown music of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. Beyond music the festival bills itself as a fusion of heritage, hospitality and everything that is Tobago!
Visit in June when the Culinary Festival is held at Pigeon Point Heritage Park. Here in the park alongside the beach, competitors will show their talents in the kitchen stadium. Competitions for Iron Chef, local chefs and students are held. Mixology and bar competitions are a blast to watch. Look closely as the bartenders toss bottles of rum into the air, behind their backs, and over their shoulders- all while holding the shot glasses and pouring just the right amounts! Sample local and international foods while you enjoy the entertainment.
Other major events in June include the Dragon Boat Festival and the Tobago Heritage Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival also takes place in Pigeon Point Heritage Park and features some of the best Dragon Boating Teams in the country. For the Tobago Heritage Festival, villagers from different communities come out in their splendor and glory to perform with folk singing, dancing and feasting. Also, they dress up in traditional costumes that depict village life from the early 1900’s.
July brings about the Tobago Motor Rally and Tobago Underwater Carnival. Mid-August is the Carib Great Race and on the last day of the month – August 31st is a great day to be on the island of Tobago. Independence Day is celebrated with enthusiasm and pomp as parades are held and vendors line the streets and parks. The best parade includes the Tobago military, dressed in pristine white, and mounted on their horses, surrounding the open-back Jeep that escorts the president. Locals go wild, waving their red, white and black flags and cheering loudly. The celebration makes even the visitors feel a little patriotic about this island nation.
Later in the year you’ve got the Blue Food Festival in October and the Flying Colour Kite Festival in December. The Blue Food Festival is all about celebrating dasheen – a traditional stable of the Tobago diet. Low in sodium and gluten free, twenty-five chefs create dynamic, enticing dishes that are not only tasty, but healthy as well. Held at the Plymouth Recreation Grounds, The Flying Colour Kite Festival is all about spend quality time with family and friends while flying kites, enjoy the music and delicious local food.
When visiting the island, there are numerous places to stay. Bed and breakfast, rental properties, hotels and villas are all waiting to give you a friendly island welcome and make your stay one to remember. Try The Villas at Stonehaven for luxury at its finest. Here, three-bedroom villas are completed with private infinity pools and attendants who clean the rooms daily. Billowy curtains surround the lush bedding. Full kitchens are perfect for family meals. Outdoor dining while gazing at the Caribbean far below makes for a relaxing end to the day. Amazing views and plenty of privacy add to the overall peaceful feeling of the place.
When you finally make yourself leave the villas to go exploring, start right next door at the bird sanctuary and work your way down to the beaches. The reefs of Tobago are plentiful and full of colorful fish and underwater beauty. Just hop a glass bottomed boat and head out to Angel Reef or swim from the shore to Batteaux Reef.
Tobago has the oldest protected rainforest in the world. Here, local guides are very willing to show you gorgeous green and gold trees, flowers, trap-door spiders, whip scorpions and thousands of birds. Take bug repellent and enjoy a day traipsing through this natural wonderland.
Tobago is calling you!
Top photo: Tobago – Pigeon Point Beach Jetty.
Ursula Petula Barzey
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