The Island Beat: Cool Caribbean Jazz Festivals

The Island Beat: Cool Caribbean Jazz Festivals

by Kevin Patterson

If the mainland has been cramping your style lately, perhaps it's time for a dose of the island life to get your groove back. Whether you'd like to dance the night away at a festival or swing your hips to the smooth sounds of Caribbean Jazz, these events are a sure fire way to cure any case of the mainland blues.

caribbean sea jazz festival - aruba Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival

When: October

Where to Stay:
Riu Palace Aruba
Tamarijn Aruba

Every October, the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival in Aruba attracts over 7,000 visitors looking to soak up some of the hottest Caribbean sounds. Fall is the perfect time to visit Aruba and see headliners, up-and-coming talent, and established regional musicians. And with tickets as cheap as $60, this is one Caribbean event you don't want to miss. Previous headliners include the likes of Chaka Khan, Oscar D'Leon, and the Randy Brecker Band. A word to the wise: arrive early for the free pre-festival concerts and parties on the beach, and don't miss the after-festival concert!

st. lucia - jazz festival St. Lucia Jazz Festival
St. Lucia

When: May

Where to Stay:
Smugglers Cove

St. Lucia Jazz Festival is one of the Caribbean's premier Jazz festivals. Going strong for 21 years, it belongs in your top five list of world-class festivals. Mark your calendars for early May to see and hear Grammy award-winners and local favorites. Headquartered on Pigeon Island, the celebration features 50 artists, master classes, and the Jazz in the South series with local and regional musicians.

caribbean jazz festivals - dominican - puerto rico - jamaica Other Jazz Festivals
PR, DR, and Jamaica

When: January, March, June, and November

Where to Stay:
Breathless Punta Cana
St. Regis Bahia

Fans of smaller islands flock to Puerto Rico for the Heineken JazzFest in March, or to the Dominican Republic's free Jazz Festival in November: a multi-day event on the island's North Coast where you can catch local and international Latin and Jazz performers. Jamaica's Jazz and Blues Festival in January draws major stars like CeeLo Green and Celine Dion, as well as undiscovered talent. Also in June, Ocho Rios hosts the Jamaica International Jazz Festival, a fan favorite that has more than 30 events focused on Jamaican and Caribbean Jazz.

reggae sumfest - jamaica Reggae SumFest

When: July

Where to Stay:
Secrets Wild Orchid
Grand Palladium Jamaica

If you'd rather have a little variety to take in 'da good vibes, then head to the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay. This festival is perfect for those looking for the best reggae, ska, dub, and dancehall music that Jamaica has to offer. The eclectic Caribbean event is also famous throughout the world for attracting some of the hottest Hip Hop and R&B acts (including LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj) for a 4-night beachside blowout each July.

oistins' fish fry - barbados Oistins' Fish Fry

When: Friday Nights

Where to Stay:
Sea Breeze
Ocean Two

There's no better way to get in step than Oistins' Friday Night Fish Fry in Barbados. Each week, the active fishing village of Oistins turns into the most scrumptious Caribbean event with live music, dancing, and authentic Caribbean cuisine. The party gets started around 6:30pm and costs a mere $10! With over 30 seasoned vendors, you can order fried and grilled fish, fish cakes, sweet potatoes, macaroni pie, and all the beer you can handle. While this mix-up caters to locals, there's no better way to rub elbows and get to know the culture than enjoying a delicious fish dinner at this colorful Caribbean event.

It doesn't matter if you prefer mellow harmonies or modern tunes, there's a Caribbean festival made just for you. No matter what rhythm you choose, these exciting events will help you get your groove back in no time.
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