We party, celebrate our history and culture and pay homage to our various religious beliefs. Trinidad and Tobago has many reasons to celebrate due to our ethnic diversity and we ensure that all are represented and celebrations are observed by various groups and the public at large.
After wrapping up Christmas, year-long preparations culminate into 6 weeks of cultural showcases, soca fetes, costume and steel pan competitions to two days of revelry, colour, creativity and beauty on the major streets of Trinidad and Tobago. The largest street parade in the world usually happens in February or early March of each year. Read more on the greatest show on earth here – Carnival
Good Friday reenactment: Religious holiday in March or April commemorating the death of Jesus Christ is celebrated by most Christian faiths. There is a local tradition called the “Good Friday bobolee” where people fashion an effigy of Judas Iscariot out of cloth and other materials and beat the stuffing out of it. Lately, the bobolee tradition has become a platform to air political grievances as the “Judases” now depicted are public figures who have disappointed in one way or the other.
Easter Monday: Public Holiday following Easter Sunday, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most people go to church on Easter Sunday and view Easter Monday as a holiday to unwind so there are many limes, beach outings etc. on this day.
This was in fact the poor man’s equivalent to the horse races, which was reserved for the local gentry at the time. Horse racing occupied Easter Monday on the calendar and the following Tuesday was declared ‘Easter Tuesday’ in Tobago and dedicated to the racing of goats for the entertainment of the ‘lower classes’ in the village of Buccoo, Tobago. For the past 21 years the event has been held at the Buccoo Beach Facility. Although Easter Tuesday is ‘officially’ Goat Races Day in Tobago, the activity now occurs more regularly on the event calendar, also being a part of the Tobago Heritage Festival. The event is now a family event that starts with a street parade where booths offering crafts, T-shirts, food and drink line the route.
Holiday observing the repeal on March 30, 1951 of the 1917 Shouter Prohibition Ordinance which prohibited the Spiritual Baptist/Shouter community from practicing their religion. The religion, based on Christianity with a blend of Africanism, was banned as it was viewed as too loud because of the bell-ringing and joyful singing that accompanied worship. The Baptists were only given a public holiday 15 years ago. The faithful attend ceremonies on this day.
Jazz and world music in its length and breadth come to various parts of Tobago every April during the festival of the Tobago Jazz Experience. Music lovers converge to enjoy eleven days of jazz, world beat, salsa, Latin, R&B, soca, calypso, reggae and many other forms of contemporary music.
The festival offers a great opportunity for visitors to have a unique experience of jazz, cultural heritage, local culinary delights and historic perspective offering music, landscape and ambiance.
Roman Catholic Feast Day in celebration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Catholics from various parishes and schools congregate at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain to solemnly process through the streets. This is usually held in May or June.
Photo: Tourism Development Company Ltd
An annual two-week event showcasing the unique cultural traditions of Tobago. There’s the ole time Tobago wedding, Heel an’ Toe, Bele dancing, the telling of folklore and superstitions and a Heritage Queen competition. You can also get a taste of traditional Tobago food like their famous crab and dumplings. The Festival runs from mid-July to the beginning of August.
Emancipation marks the commemoration of liberation from chattel slavery. The Emancipation festival is resplendent with ethnic garments, drumming, concerts, film events and educational seminars where participants can experience an educational, spiritual, cultural connection with the African ancestors of Trinidad and Tobago. This month long heritage festival culminates around August 1st with a phenomenal street parade where community groups join in a procession which takes them from the Treasury Building, Independence Square, (the site of the 1st Proclamation of Emancipation was read in 1834), to the Emancipation Village.
Commemoration of independence from Britain which takes place on August 31st each year. Many locals come into the capital to see the country’s military at their finest as they proceed through the streets accompanied by their bands.
Trinidad and Tobago’s declaration of republic status on September 24th. There is a celebration in the capital city to commemorate the day and there is usually an exhibition at the Atrium of the Piarco International Airport, highlighting the establishment of National Emblems, the National Anthem, National Pledge and Coat of Arms and other features that were born out of both our Independent and Republic status.
The group was once called the Carib Community but are now referred to as the First People of Trinidad and Tobago. Their celebration aims to promote and support the recovery and preservation of their heritage, by bringing awareness to cultural goods and services and traditional expressions of our First Nation Peoples. The Heritage week usually occurs in the 2nd week of October.
Hosay is the Islamic observance of the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandsons Hassan and Hussein at the Battle of Kerbala in Persia. The entire event plays out over the course of a week either at the top of the year or late in the year depending on the moon/lunar calendar. On the last day, there is a parade of tadjahs (hand-made temples) made by the different communities and tassa drumming through the St. James district. The tadjahs are then submerged into the sea.
A week-long mid-year event celebrating the rich diversity of cultures as well as the incorporation of the St. James into the City of Port of Spain. The Festival features heavily on local culture, so there’s a Pan Night to celebrate steelpan, kaiso shows, children shows, as well as local music genres including Soca, Chutney, Tassa and Jazz.
Islamic feast following 40 days of fasting during the month of Ramadan. Usually takes place at the latter half of the year. The day begins with prayer to break the fast, followed by a special charity in the form of money, food, or produce which is given to the needy or to Islamic organizations. Families decorate their homes, Eid cards and gifts are bought to distribute to friends and family, sweets and other delicacies are prepared. ,
The Hindu Festival of Lights celebrating light over darkness and good over evil. Usually takes place at the latter half of the year. Celebrations for Divali in Trinidad is one of the largest in the English speaking Caribbean, celebrations are not only held at temples and by religious groups, it has been extended to homes with deyas being lit nationwide and communities but now organisations have also embraced this festival with special events held to commemorate this occasion.
This culinary event features competitions focused on dishes using the root vegetable, Dasheen and takes place in October in Blood Bay, Tobago. The day’s festivities intrigue patrons from near and far and are filled with samplings, live entertainment, and demonstrations, children’s zones and so much more.
A historic marking of the cross-cultural relationship between the Amerindians and the Roman Catholic Church. The festival is held in August in honour of the remaining Caribs on the islands. This begins with a procession by members of the Carib community from the Santa Rosa Carib Community Centre to the Santa Rosa R.C. Parish, Arima. After the march, members socialize and have breakfast, then members of the Carib community, persons of Catholic faith and supporters, journey to the Santa Rosa Carib Community Centre for an evening of fun activities with live performances with parang and steel pan as well as Latin dancing.
We end of the year with Christmas. Like many countries, Christmas is a time of joy, celebration family and love. But a ‘Trini’ Christmas is special. From the food sumptuous cuisine (black cake, pastels, ham) to the beautiful music of Parang; to the parties – yes the parties – a Trini Christmas is one of the greatest festivals on the calendar.