Most Canadians think of Jamaica as a sun and sand vacation destination; however many travellers may be surprised by the number of festivals and events held on the island throughout the year.
“Jamaica has a fantastic year-long calendar of festivals and events,” said Jamaica’s director of tourism, Paul Pennicook. “These activities include world-class food, music and sporting events. We offer so much more than just sun, sand and sea and our annual festivals give Canadians the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of home, all while enjoying Jamaica’s culture and flavours.”
The following are just a few highlights of 2015 festivals and events in Jamaica. For a full list, visit http://www.visitjamaica.com .
- Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival (Trelawny, Jan. 29-31): This world-class event is known for bringing a line-up of international and Jamaican artists to the stage. Mariah Carey is set to headline this year’s festival. (http://www.jamaicajazzandblues.com)
- Reggae Month, It’s Kingston for February (Kingston, Feb. 1-28): Reggae Month highlights the impact of reggae on the island’s social, cultural and economic development. Organized by The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Reggae Month will be entering its sixth year in Kingston and includes an array of events, including concerts, festivals and seminars that showcase the true essence of Jamaican music. (http://www.jariajamaica.com/reggae-month)
- Bob Marley Birthday Celebrations (Kingston, Feb. 6-7): Bob Marley’s 70th birthday celebrations will take place at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston on Feb. 6. Activities will include symposiums on reggae and reggae jam sessions with Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid and Nomaddz. The Bob Marley Foundation will host a concert on Kingston’s waterfront on Feb. 7 with the Marley brothers and other local artists performing. Both events are free to the public.
- Kingston City Run (Kingston, March 15): This is the third staging of the Kingston City Run which promises to be a weekend of pure adrenaline and fun with two race events (a half marathon and 5k race/walk) as well as other festivities around the city. (http://www.kingstoncityrun.com)
- Style Week Jamaica/Fashion-Block (Kingston, May 19-24): Style Week Jamaica and the blockbuster, internationally acclaimed Fashion-Block have become major events on the Jamaican entertainment/fashion calendar. The after parties, VIP cocktail receptions, seminars, supermodels and glamorous runway shows appeal to fashionistas from around the world.
- Jamaica International Ocho Rios Jazz Festival (island wide, June 7-14): The festival will offer a week of great music, top entertainment and community participation. On the lineup are international performers from Europe, the US and the Caribbean along with renowned Jamaican jazz artists. (http://www.ochoriosjazz.com)
- Caribbean Fashion Week (Kingston, June 9-15): Recognized as the Caribbean’s top fashion and style event, Caribbean Fashion Week is held each year in Kingston. It features renowned designers and emerging talent showcasing their collections. (http://www.caribbeanfashionweek.com)
- International Reggae Day (island wide, July 1): On July 1, visitors can celebrate all things reggae in Jamaica where the musical genre was born. (http://www.ireggaeday.com)
- Portland Jerk Festival (Portland, July 5): Portland is the home of jerk, and its Portland Jerk Festival showcases all things jerk. Participants are treated to a feast of jerk lobster, fish, chicken and pork. Activities include performances from local artists and community dance groups, arts and craft displays, a merry-go-round and face painting.
- Reggae Sumfest (Montego Bay, July 12-18): An anticipated annual reggae festival, Reggae Sumfest showcases the best talents in roots, rock and reggae music from both Jamaican and international performers. (http://www.reggaesumfest.com)
- Little Ochie Seafood Carnival (Manchester, July 12): The Little Ochie Seafood Carnival is a celebration of the wide array of culinary delights available on the south side of the island. Little Ochie restaurant is nestled on the rugged beachfront of a quaint South Coast fishing village called Alligator Pond. Top local reggae musicians and vintage artists are featured along with excellent cuisine and a non-stop party. (http://www.littleochie.com)
- Mobay Jerk Festival (Montego Bay, Aug. 1): This food festival is an excellent opportunity for visitors to enjoy jerk cuisine in Montego Bay. (http://www.montegobayjerkfestival.com)
- Reggae Marathon (Negril, Dec. 5): This marathon, half marathon and 10k race are Jamaica’s premier international marathon event with sport enthusiasts converging on Negril for a fun event with good vibes and reggae music at each mile. (http://www.reggaemarathon.com)