Calendar: festivals, events & public holidays 2018

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

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.

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: 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)
  • 22–24: T&T Energy Conference
  • 26: National Stickfighting prelims (Moruga, Trinidad)
  • 28: National Panorama semi-finals (Queen’s Park Savannah, Trinidad)
  • 29: National extempo prelims (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 30: Calypso Pioneers & Jewels (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 31: National Young Kings (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • Trinidad & Tobago International Marathon (Trinidad)
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Pembroke, Parlatuvier, Spring Garden, Plymouth and Mt Pleasant

February

  • Carnival Educative Arts Festival (Tobago)
  • Tobago Carnival Regatta (Tobago)
  • 1: Senior Kings & Queens preliminaries (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 2: National Stickfighting semi-finals (Arima Velodrome)
  • 3: Calypso Fiesta — the Calypso Monarch semi-finals (Skinner Park, San Fernando)
  • 3: Red Cross Kiddies Carnival
  • 4: National Junior Panorama Finals (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 4: Junior Kings & Queens preliminaries (Adam Smith Square, Woodbrook)
  • 5: National Junior Calypso Monarch final (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 6: Kings & Queens finals — juniors & seniors (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 6: Rapso Explosion (NALIS, Abercromby Street)
  • 7: Traditional Individual Mas Competition (Adam Smith Square, Woodbrook)
  • 7: National Stickfighting finals (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 8: Terrific Thursday Kaisorama (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 8: National Panorama finals — small conventional bands (Skinner Park, San Fernando)
  • 8: Conventional Individuals Mas Competition (Adam Smith Square, Woodbrook)
  • 9: Canboulay Riots Re-enactment of (Piccadilly Greens, Port of Spain)
  • 9: Dragon Festival (George & Prince Streets, Port of Spain)
  • 9: Traditional Carnival Characters Parade (Port of Spain)
  • 9: Soca Monarch Finals (Trinidad) – on “Fantastic Friday” as it’s come to be known, this showcases soca artists from around the region vying for soca supremacy
  • 10: Junior Parade of the Bands (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 10: National Panorama finals — medium & large bands (Queen’s Park Savannah). Here, the finest steelbands compete for the title of the year in Trinidad
  • 11: Nostalgia Parade (Picadilly Greens to Adam Smith Square)
  • 11: Dimanche Gras and Calypso Monarch Final (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • 12: J’ouvert Celebrations
  • 12 & 13: Carnival Monday and Tuesday — J’ouvert and (senior) Parade of the Bands
  • 16: Chinese New Year (year of the dog)
  • 17: Champs of Steel Plus (Queen’s Park Savannah)
  • Talk Tent (calypso and comedy, Queen’s Hall, Trinidad)
  • Carnival cool-downs
  • Comedy Festival
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Hope, Adelphi, Buccoo, Franklyn and Bon Accord

March

  • 17: Jazz Artists on the Greens (St Joseph, Trinidad)
  • 30—2 April (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
  • Phagwa (Holi)
  • Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament
  • Pigeon Peas Festival
  • 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

  • 2 (public holiday): Easter Monday
  • 25–29: Bocas Lit Fest – The Trinidad & Tobago Literary Festival
  • 26–29: Tobago Jazz Experience
  • TBC: La Divina Pastora (Trinidad)
  • New Fire Festival (Santa Cruz, Trinidad)
  • Rally Trinidad
  • Harvest Festival (Tobago): Goodwood
  • Pt Fortin Borough Day (Trinidad) — full week of J’ouvert, mas, pan and parties leading up to the big street party
  • Tobago Fashion Coda
  • Inter-school Dragon Boat Regatta

May

  • 5 & 6: May MTB Madness
  • 19 & 20: Tobago Sea to Sea Marathon
  • 30 (public holiday): Indian Arrival Day
  • 31 (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
  • Maypole Festival (Tobago)
  • European Film Festival (Trinidad)
  • Decibel Entertainment Conference & Expo
  • T&T Fashion Week 2TFW
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Delaford, Belle Garden, Mason Hall, Whim

June

  • 3: Mango Mélée (Eddie Hart Grounds, Tacarigua, Trinidad)
  • 15 (public holiday, TBC): 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
  • 19 (public holiday): Labour Day, marked by trade union marches and gatherings in Fyzabad (Trinidad)
  • Ganga Dhaara River Festival: honours the descent of India’s sacred River Ganges (Blanchisseuse, Trinidad)
  • WeBeat Festival (St James, Trinidad)
  • Rainbow Cup International Triathlon (Tobago)
  • Annual Yoruba Village Drum Festival (Trinidad)
  • Best Village Food & Folk Fair (Queens Park Savannah)
  • Junior Tobago Heritage Festival
  • Dragon Boat Festival (Tobago)
  • Charlotteville Fisherman’s Fest (Tobago)
  • St Peter’s Day Fisherman’s Festival
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Lambeau, Bloody Bay, Roxborough

July

  • 15–1: Tobago Heritage Festival – celebrating Tobago’s unique contributions to our culture through food, folklore, song and dance, artisan creations and storytelling
  • 23–29: Africa Film Festival Trinidad & Tobago
  • 28–1: Trans-Atlantic Expo, International Market and Trade Exposition (Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village, Queen’s Park Savannah, Trinidad)
  • Mango Festival
  • Motor Rally (Tobago)
  • J’ouvert in July (Trinidad)
  • Carnival band launch season begins (through September/October)
  • Great Fete Weekend (Tobago)
  • Opera festival (Trinidad)
  • Trade & Investment Convention (Trinidad)
  • Harvest Festival (Tobago): Castara, Black Rock

August

  • 1 (public holiday): Emancipation Day
  • Arima Borough Day: J’ouvert, steelpan, calypso and parties marking the borough’s anniversary (Trinidad)
  • Moruga (Amerindian, Columbus and Emancipation) Heritage Day Festival
  • Castara Fisherman’s Fete (Tobago)
  • Santa Rosa Festival (Trinidad)
  • Great Race (Trinidad to Tobago)
  • Oshun River Festival (Trinidad) — marked by Orisha devotees celebrating the goddess of love, fertility and inland waters
  • Angostura Bitter Rivals (Trinidad)
  • Pan on d’ Avenue (Woodbrook, Trinidad)
  • Reggae on the Beach (Tobago)
  • 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 Festival (Tobago): Speyside

September

  • 18–25: 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
  • 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
  • Trinidad & Tobago Restaurant Week
  • Tobago International Cycling Classic
  • Angostura Rum Festival
  • Derby Horse Racing Classics (Trinidad)
  • Maracas Open Water Swim (Trinidad)
  • Parang season: begins with competition at month’s end, runs through December (Trinidad)
  • Turtle watching season ends

October

  • Santa Rosa First People’s Heritage Week, where descendants from around the region gather for a smoke ceremony and street procession in Arima (Trinidad)
  • TBC: 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
  • Blue Food Festival (L’Anse Fourmi/Bloody Bay recreation ground, Tobago)
  • Animae Caribe: Animation and Digital Media Festival (Trinidad)
  • Ramleela Festival (two weeks before Divali, Trinidad)
  • Steelpan & Jazz Festival (Trinidad)
  • Chinese Arrival Dragon Boat Festival (Trinidad)
  • COCO Dance Festival
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Patience Hill

November

  • 7 (public holiday, TBC): 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
  • International Surf Festival
  • Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival
  • Harvest Festivals (Tobago): Plymouth, Black Rock, Les Couteaux, Moriah, Scarborough, Montgomery

December

  • Paramin Parang Festival (Trinidad)
  • Assembly Day: Tobago House of Assembly celebrates and awards Tobagonians’ achievements, along with exhibitions and a sports and recreation day
  • 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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