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Calendar: Festivals, Events & Public Holidays 2016

  
50th anniversay fireworks at the Queen's Park Savannah in Trinidad. Photo: Chris Anderson

50th anniversay fireworks at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Trinidad. Photo: Chris Anderson

 

2016 Calendar of major Trinidad & Tobago festivals, events & public holidays

Trinidad and Tobago are festival islands where there is always something to celebrate. If you’re an overseas visitor planning a vacation or holiday where you want to immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of Trinidad and Tobago, there are countless opportunities on the islands’ diverse cultural calendar around which you can plan your trip. Here are some of the biggest and most distinctive festivals, holidays and events.

Visit our respective Trinidad Festivals and Tobago Festivals sections for details about each islands’ biggest happenings, and more details on this year’s calendar of events here.

NB: Many dates are set just before the events are scheduled, and are always subject to change or cancellation. If you would like to submit your Trinidad & Tobago event for consideration, please contact us.

January

  • 1 (public holiday): New Year’s Day – friends old and new; parties great and small. The good-luck dish for bringing in the new year is our pelau with black-eyed peas.
  • Carnival season begins
  • Sailing season begins
  • Carnival Educative Arts Festival & Carnival Caravan (Tobago)
  • 16: First Trinidad & Tobago Cycling Federation MTB XCE (Mountain Bike Cross Country Eliminator) event
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Pembroke, Parlatuvier, Spring Garden, Plymouth and Mt Pleasant

February

  • Carnival Educative Arts Festival (Tobago)
  • Tobago Carnival Regatta (Tobago)
  • 5: Soca Monarch Finals (Trinidad) this annual double-header takes place on Carnival Friday or “Fantastic Friday” as it’s come to be known, and showcases soca artists from around the region vying for two different titles: Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch
  • 6: Panorama Finals (Trinidad) – the finest steelbands compete for the title of the year
  • 7: Dimanche Gras (Trinidad)
  • 8 & 9: Carnival Monday and Tuesday
  • 8: Chinese New Year (year of the monkey)
  • 19: Chinese New Year (year of the sheep/goat)
  • Talk Tent (calypso and comedy, Queen’s Hall, Trinidad)
  • Carnival cool-downs
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Hope, Adelphi, Buccoo, Franklyn and Bon Accord

March

  • Caribbean Institute of Astronomy’s Annual Star Party (Old US Tracking Station, Chaguaramas, Trinidad)
  • Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament
  • Trinidad & Tobago Golf Open
  • 12: Jazz Artists on the Greens (The Greens at Farm Road, St Joseph, Trinidad) www.jaotg.com 
  • 23–27: Phagwa (Holi)
  • 25–28 (with public holidays): long Easter weekend features hot cross buns, horse racing at the Santa Rosa track in Arima (Trinidad), and goat and crab races in Tobago’s Mt. Pleasant (Monday) and Buccoo (Tuesday). Public holidays are obseved on Good Friday, and Easter Sunday (with the public holiday falling on the Monday). Look out for the beating of the Good Friday bobolee, an effigy of Judas Iscariot. These days, you’re just as likely to see effigies of politicians, notorious characters of all kinds and occasionally some very specific ones representing particularly bad ex-boyfriends.
  • 30 (public holiday): Spiritual “Shouter” Baptist Liberation Day commemorates the 1951 repeal of the colonial-era Shouters Prohibition Ordinance (1917), effectively banning this Christian and Orisha syncretic religion. The Baptists are also referred to as Shouter Baptists and Shango Baptists. The holiday is marked with performances and religious observances
  • Caribbean Institute of Astronomy’s annual Star Party (Old US tracking station, Macqueripe, Chaguaramas, Trinidad)
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Mt. St. George, Mason Hall, Roxborough, Bon Accord
  • Turtle nesting season officially begins on both islands (Trinidad’s north and east coasts, and the leeward coast of Tobago)

April

  • 16–24: Tobago Jazz Experience
  • 21-22:  Tobago Fashion Coda 2016
  • 22–9: Point Fortin Borough Day (Trinidad) — full week of J’ouvert, mas, pan and parties leading up the big street party
  • 22: Earth Day
  • 23–1: Bocas Lit Fest – The Trinidad & Tobago Literary Festival
  • Pan in the 21st Century
  • TBC: La Divina Pastora (Trinidad)
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Goodwood
  • 28: Republic Bank Decibel Entertainment & Conference Expo
  • 30: Grand Games Athletics Invitational
  • 30: First National Food Truck & Culinary Festival (Trinidad)
  • 30–1: Sole to Sole — UWI Dept of Creative & Festival Arts Dance Showcase
  • 30–2: The Trinidad & Tobago Hair & Beauty Trade Show

May

  • Rapsofest
  • Maypole Festival (Tobago)
  • 7: Prime Minister’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament
  • 11–24: European Film Festival (Trinidad)
  • 14–22: Trinidad & Tobago Fashion Week
  • 18–20 Sports Studies & Higher Education Biennial Conference
  • 19–22: Second Caribbean Conference of National Trusts and Preservation Societies
  • 20–22: Tobago Sea to Sea Marathon
  • 26 (public holiday): Corpus Christi (Latin for “the body of Christ”) is celebrated by Catholics in honour of the sacramental Eucharist, in commemoration of the Last Supper many Christians receive Communion on this day
  • 26–30: Salsa Fiesta TnT (Queen’s Hall, Trinidad)
  • 30 (public holiday): Indian Arrival Day
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Whim, Delaford, Belle Garden and Mason Hall

June

  • 1: Tobago Culinary Festival (Pigeon Point Heritage Park)
  • Ganga Dhaara River Festival: honours the descent of India’s sacred River Ganges (Blanchisseuse, Trinidad)
  • Junior Tobago Heritage Festival
  • 4: Trinidad & Tobago Game Fishing: Kingfish Tournament
  • 5: World Environment Day
  • 5: Habitat for Humanity: Evening Under the Stars (a wine and cheese affair)
  • 8–11: Rainbow Cup International Triathlon (Tobago)
  • 13–15: Society of Petroleum (SPE) Energy Resources Conference
  • 19 (public holiday): Labour Day, marked by trade union marches and gatherings in Fyzabad (Trinidad); Tobago Day at the Races (Santa Rosa Park, Trinidad)
  • 22: Dragon Boat Festival (Tobago)
  • 24–26: Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association (TPFA) National Fruit Festival (Trinidad)
  • 24–26: Charlotteville Fisherman’s Fest (Tobago)
  • 29: St. Peter’s Day Fisherman’s Festival
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Lambeau, Bloody Bay and Roxborough

July

  • 1–10 Opera festival (Trinidad)
  • 3: Mango Festival (Trinidad)
  • 3–5: Motor Rally (Tobago)
  • 6–9: Trade & Investment Convention (Trinidad)
  • 9 T&T Game Fishing: Junior Tournament
  • TBC (public holiday): Eid-ul-Fitr — The most widely recognised of our Islamic observances, Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, celebrated in homes and mosques
  • 15–1: Tobago Heritage Festival – celebrating Tobago’s unique contributions to our culture through food, folklore, song and dance, artisan creations and storytelling
  • Concerts featuring local and international stars
  • South Caribbean Open Golf Tournament (Tobago)
  • Tobago Games
  • J’ouvert in July
  • Carnival band launch season begins (through September/October)
  • 27–31: Great Fête Weekend (Tobago)
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Castara and Black Rock

August

  • 1 (public holiday): Emancipation Day
  • 8–13: Artiste Management Music Business Conference (AMMBCON) (Trinidad)
  • Arima Borough Day: J’ouvert, steelpan, calypso and parties marking the borough’s anniversary (Trinidad)
  • Best Village competition begins, runs through November
  • Castara Fisherman’s Fête (Tobago)
  • Muhtadi International Drumming Festival: started in Canada by Trinidad-born Muhtadi Thomas, and highlights different cultures around the call of the drums (Tobago)
  • Oshun River Festival: marked by Orisha devotees celebrating the goddess of love, fertility and inland waters
  • 23: Carib Great Race
  • Santa Rosa Festival (Arima, Trinidad)
  • 31 (public holiday): Independence Day — commemorates the islands’ independence from Britain in 1962, featuring a parade of the protective services; national awards; and fireworks
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Speyside

September

  • Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival – the Caribbean’s second largest festival devoted to film, the ttff showcases full and feature length productions from the region and its diaspora. The festival is supplemented by a series of workshops and training sessions on the art, technique and practicalities involved in the filmmaking process
  • Tobago Fest (TBD): parties, street parade and J’ouvert. (NB: this event has not taken place in the last few years. The event appears to be cancelled for 2015, with a tentative return in 2016)
  • Maracas International Open Water Swim
  • Derby horse racing classics in Arima (Trinidad)
  • Panyard Sensations
  • Republic Day Cycling Classic (Trinidad)
  • Angostura Rum Festival
  • Tobago International Gospel Festival
  • 29–5: Tobago International Cycling Classic
  • San Fernando Jazz Festival (Trinidad)
  • Trinidad & Tobago Restaurant Week
  • 24 (public holiday): Republic Day — marks the adoption in 1976 of a new republican constitution (in which a President replaced the Queen of England as the head of state, and the islands became a republic within the Commonwealth), and the first meeting of the republican parliament
  • Parang season: begins with competition at month’s end, runs through December (Trinidad)
  • Turtle watching season ends

October

  • First People’s Heritage Week, where descendants from around the region gather for a smoke ceremony and street procession in Arima (Trinidad)
  • 8–11: Hosay — this festival of Islamic origins commemorates the martyrdom of Hassan and Hussein, grandsons of the Prophet Mohammed. It is principally observed in St James, but Hosay processions may also be seen in Cedros and Curepe. Tadjahs, ornamented replicas of Hussein’s tomb, are carried through the streets to the rhythmic accompaniment of tassa drumming
  • Taste T&T: (grassroots festival with community cooking competitions, plus an international event where the country’s best chefs show the country’s haute cuisine)
  • Blue Food Festival (L’Anse Fourmi/Bloody Bay recreation ground, Tobago)
  • Coast-2-Coast Adventure Race (Trinidad)
  • National Tourism Week
  • Ramleela Festival (two weeks before Divali, Trinidad)
  • Steelpan & Jazz Festival (Trinidad)
  • TBC (public holiday): Divali – the simplest things can create the most arresting sights. To celebrate Divali, small clay bowls known as deyas are filled with oil and lit by cotton wicks. In homes, mandirs and public spaces, the Hindu festival of lights is marked by dispalys of dozens or hundreds or thousands of these tiny flames, symbolising the victory of righteous forces over evil elements. Hindus perform  religious ceremonies in worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of light and prosperity
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Patience Hill

November

  • International Surf Festival
  • Hosay (Trinidad)
  • Best Village competition finals
  • Pan is Beautiful
  • Scarborough Cup Golf Tournament (Tobago)
  • Tobago Christmas Caravan
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Plymouth, Black Rock, Les Coteaux, Moriah, Scarborough, Montgomery

December

  • Christmas with the Marionettes Chorale (Queen’s Hall, Trinidad)
  • 8th Annual Tobago House of Assembly Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Louis D’or Nurseries
  • Assembly Day: Tobago House of Assembly celebrates and awards Tobagonians’ achievements, along with exhibitions and a sports and recreation day
  • Paramin Parang Festival (Trinidad)
  • Tobago Flying Colours: annual kite flying festival in Plymouth
  • 25 (public holiday): Christmas Day
  • 26 (public holiday): Boxing Day, marked with horse racing and parties
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