INDIA | HOLI
One of the oldest festivals of India is Holi, also referred to as the “Festival of Color,” “Festival of Love,” and “Festival of Spring.”
The festival celebrates the end of winter, the arrival of spring and the beginning of a good harvest season. Starting on the evening of the Purnima–the Full Moon day–Holi lasts the night and stretches across the following day.
At or after sunset on the eve of Holi, bonfires–pyres–are lit, signifying Holika Dahan. Representing the triumph of good over evil, people gather around to sing and dance and revel in the magic of the night.
The following day is the time to play and laugh, forgive and forget, and repair broken relationships. Playing with colors, people gather and smear paint, natural dyes from flowers and herbs, and synthetic pigments on each other’s faces, bodies, and clothes. Typically, dry powders are used inside, while outside, colored water is fair game.
By the end of the day, the streets and everyone filling them are a colorful canvas.
BARBADOS | CROP OVER FESTIVAL
Crop Over Festival is a 200-year old tradition that was born out of the island’s colonial history and traditionally celebrates the end of sugar cane season.
The six-week festival, which takes place from July to August, celebrates Bajan culture to its fullest through lively parties, local craft markets, soca concerts and culinary delights. The height of Crop Over Festival is Grand Kadooment, which abounds with masqueraders and costumed bands. The celebrations continue into the night with more food, music and fireworks—all set against the backdrop of the picturesque Brighton Beach.
Mas Bands are at the heart of this cultural celebration, where revelers celebrate with the loudest and most vibrant colors, feathers and creatively designed costumes! Designers, like Kevin Small, are endlessly passionate about Crop Over’s costume themes and designs. Kevin Small began designing costumes at 17 and is now one of Barbados’ best designers. The pride for Crop Over Festival is strong across the island and across the globe—you can learn more here and join in on the celebration with these suggestions:
- Celebrate and support Barbadian music with these Mixcloud Soca Playlists and DJ Private Ryan’s Soca Starter Playlist
- Learn the quintessential Barbadian dance, the Wuk Up
- Purchase a costume from popular Mas Band, Kontact, to prepare for next year (or to flaunt around the house or on Instagram)
BELIZE | LOBSTER FEST
In June, San Pedro, Belize proudly celebrates the unique and delicious festival, Lobster Fest.
The event began as a community-wide celebration to honor the beginning of the lobster season and has flourished into an internationally recognized event that draws in visitors to take part in week-long festivities leading up to the main event, the Block Party in Central Park.
Revelers receive a Lobster Fest Passport and collect stamps as they participate in events throughout the week–hoping to win the hotel giveaway at the Block Party.
Kicking off the festival is a Lionfish Hunt. This event actually serves sustainability purposes, aiding in the prevention of the depletion of the lobster population. Other events throughout the week range from beachside barbeques to candlelit fine dining.
The Block Party showcases local vendors and includes lobster-eating competitions, cultural music performances, the ‘biggest lobster catch’ competition, and the Miss Lobster Festival. What makes Lobster Fest truly special is the people, as the festival brings visitors and local communities together. Visitors return year after year to reconnect with the culture and people who so warmly embrace them.
The 13th Annual Lobster Fest, originally slated to take place this year June 11 – 20, 2020, will take place in 2021 – for more information about Lobster Fest visit here, and to learn more about Belize’s festivities check out Travel Belize.
THE ISLANDS OF TAHITI | HEIVA
The traditional Tahitian festival Heiva is celebrated every July in the capital city, Papeete.
The Heiva is the Polynesian Celebration of Life and brims with street parties, colorful dancers, canoe races and javelin throwing competitions. The festival showcases the islands’ unique heritage, art and cultural customs, and is celebrated variously across the five archipelagos–the larger the island, the larger the celebration.
Heiva costumes are handcrafted from native island materials, including roots, seeds, coconut shells and lots of flowers—a testament to the Polynesian culture’s veneration for nature. Of all the Heiva competitions, the dance competition is very revered and participants take pride in their craft, practicing months in advance.
The festival also celebrates the physical strength of Tahitians through the Mr. Tahiti sports competition.
MIAMI | CARNIVAL
Carnival in Miami can proudly hold its own alongside any Caribbean and South American celebrations.
Every year in October the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds welcomes locals and visitors to celebrate the cultural blend of Caribbean colors and cultures that permeates the city.
Miami Carnival boasts creative costumes, steel drums, mas bands, soca artists and food vendors with events leading up to the main day on Sunday.
J’ouvert is a massive street party that kicks off the festivities, catch a glimpse of last year’s J’ouvert here.
Revelers adorned in the most colorful and vibrant costumes compete for the coveted King and Queen titles, while steel bands compete for the crown of Panorama Campion. Miami’s Carnival celebration is a unique celebration that blends the cultural traditions from islands such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia and more into one carnival narrative.