If you feel like you’ll need a mid-winter cheer up this year, there’s no better place to head to than the Caribbean.  Never short of an excuse for a party, combine the laid back attitude with the sunshine, sea and sand and you’re on to a definite winner.  Here’s our pick of festivals and events to catch some Caribbean culture during your winter sun break.

November

Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival, 19th– 22nd November 2015

The clue is in the title; if you’re a foodie, Barbados in November is a great choice! Watch cooking demonstrations from top international chefs and take part in  wine tastings and tours of Barbados’ finest rum distilleries.  A island-wide ‘dine around’ program is offered, with restaurants including L’Azure at The Crane, The Round House at Bathsheba and Daphne’s Restaurant on the West Coast offering special prices throughout the entire month. Where to stay – Aquatica Resort Barbados or Coconut Court Barbados Food Wine Rum - Caribbean Culture

Tri St Lucia, 21st November 2015

If you’re feeling athletic, head to St Lucia in November for the Triathlon.  There are 3 distances for most abilities, and events for children from 5 years old.  There are plenty of parties and sporting master classes in the week before the main event, and Daley Thompson is tipped to attend this year. Where to stay – Blu St Lucia St Lucia Triathlon, Tri St Lucia - Caribbean Culture

December

St Lucia National Day/Festival of Lights and Renewal 2015

National Day is officially 13th December, but the party goes on for most of the month and blends into Christmas and New Years celebrations. Where to stay – Coco Palm

Boxing Day 2015 Horse racing at the Garrison Savannah, Barbados

A fun afternoon out even for those who aren’t usually in to horse racing, it’s worth a visit to join in with the local’s excitement and experience the atmosphere.  Expect plenty of rum and cheering! Where to stay – Coconut Court horse racing at the Garrison, Barbados Turf Club - Caribbean Culture

January

Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, 29th January – 31st January 2015  

This rapidly expanding music festival will be headlined this year by Mariah Carey.  The line-up is still being announced but many artists have already confirmed, including Richie Stephens, Peter Cetera, The Pointer Sisters, Charlie Wilson… and a whole host more.  It’s now held at the Trelawny Stadium so you’re guaranteed a plenty of buzz and excitement. Where to stay – Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival - Caribbean Culture

Grenada Sailing Festival, 28th January – 2nd February 2016

Held at the end of January spilling into February, join this upbeat, increasingly competitive sailing week with an extremely warm Grenadian welcome. A variety of entertainment is laid on, including music, dancing and tug of war and strongman competitions and children’s activities.  Culminates with a fireworks extravaganza on the final day. Where to stay – True Blue Bay Grenada Sailing Week - Caribbean Culture Check back next week for Part 2, covering events in February, March and April.

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