St Lucia: what's on when?
January - New Year celebrations
What better place to see in the New Year than balmy, beautiful Saint Lucia? Across the island, several villages hold night-long “J’ouvert” parties, with dancing and celebrations that continue until daybreak. A number of resorts and restaurants also offer special New Year’s Eve banquets with live bands. After dinner, you can head out to join street parties and watch the fireworks.
February - Independence Day
St Lucia achieved independence from Great Britain on 22 February, 1979. Each year on this day, the island’s people celebrate their nation, with official parades, competitions, parties and community fetes held across the island.
April/May - Holy Week and Easter
The people of Saint Lucia are predominantly Catholic, and Easter is the most important religious holiday of the year. Holy Week (the week preceding Easter) is a solemn time on the island, as is Good Friday, when people attend mass and avoid eating meat. Easter marks the end of the period of mourning and abstinence, with celebrating and feasting across the island.
April/May - St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival
Every year towards the end of April, the island hosts the world-famous St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, often cited as one of the top five jazz festivals of the world. The festival, which lasts for two days, features performances by international jazz artists of note – musicians such as George Benson and Herbie Hancock have played previous events. The majority of the festival events are held at Pigeon Point National Park on Pigeon Island, although musical events are hosted elsewhere on the island too. For example, you can enjoy free jazz and local music by Caribbean artists at Jazz on the Square in Castries.
June - St Lucia Carnival
For a true, Caribbean-style party, don’t miss Saint Lucia’s Carnival, held every year in Castries in June. The Carnival features masquerade (Mas) bands, calypso and soca singers, steel drum bands and beauty competitions, along with over-the-top glamorous costumes, parades and dancing in the streets. On Saturday evening, costumed Calypso bands compete fiercely for top honours in the Calypso Monarch competition. This is followed by the King and Queen of the Mas bands competition, and the OECS (Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States) Soca Monarch competition on Sunday. Starting on Monday and lasting right into Tuesday, Castries is taken over by bands and costumed revellers, for the biggest street party of the year.
June - Dennery Fish Festival
On the last Sunday in June, the village of Dennery on Saint Lucia’s east coast holds its annual Dennery Fish Festival. Head here for a selection of freshly prepared fish dishes, as well as sailing, swimming, rowing and other sporting events.
August - Rose Festival ("Fet La Woz")
Held every August 30th, the Rose Festival is one of Saint Lucia’s two main, traditional festivals – the other being the Marguerite (“La Magwit”) in October. The two festivals are organised by rival singing societies, themselves named La Woz and La Magwit respectively.
Leading up to the Rose Festival, there are nightly singing practices called séances, with singing to music played on traditional instruments, as well as banjos and violins. The day of the festival itself is marked by a colourful, musical parade and fete, presided over by a selected king and queen, along with a costumed entourage.
October - La Marguerite Festival
Held on 17 October, St. Lucia’s annual La Marguerite Festival follows the same structure as the Rose Festival, with a costumed parade and singing. This is the answer of the followers of the La Marguerite society to the earlier festival by La Woz.
October – Creole Day (Jounen Kweyol)
On the Sunday closest to International Creole Day in late October or early November, Saint Lucia holds its own Creole Day ("Jounen Kweyol"), celebrating the people’s mother tongue, national dress and culture, along with its ethos of "chanté, dansé, manjé" (singing, dancing and eating). A range of traditional, Creole-style foods are prepared, among them fish cakes, green fig and saltfish and roasted breadfruit, and exhibitions and musical performances are held across the island. On the day, many women wear traditional dress, consisting of a colourful madras skirt with a lace blouse and a matching headpiece.
November - Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is the world’s longest trans-Atlantic regatta, starting in November at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and, after traversing Europe and the Mediterranean, ending at Saint Lucia. The arrival of the competing yachts in Rodney’s Bay is marked by massive celebrations.
December - Heineken Kalalu World Music Festival
Since 2005, the Heineken Kalalu World Music Festival has been held on Saint Lucia on the first weekend in December. It features world-class performances of African, Latin and Caribbean music, attracting music lovers from around the globe.