The diversity of ethnic races found in Trinidad and Tobago is reflected in the arts and culture of this beautiful twin-island Caribbean holiday destination. A quick glance of the cultural and religious calendar will show just how encompassing and appreciative Trinidad and Tobago culture can be. There are holidays for Carnival, Easter, Spiritual (Shouter) Baptist Liberation Day, Emancipation, Divali and Eid-ul-Fitr. You can be assured however, that no cultural aspect, or public holiday for that matter, is mutually exclusive as people from various backgrounds fully participate. After all, we sing it out loud in our National Anthem: “Here every creed and race finds an equal place…”
Indigenous music is a unifying component and here you can find enjoyment of all genres. Trinidad and Tobago is first and foremost the home of calypso and soca. These genres have produced some of the finest bards including world-renowned calypsonians the Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Lord Kitchener, Chalkdust, Gypsy, Black Stalin, David Rudder and Denyse Plummer. Soca music is high in demand especially around Carnival with artists like Machel Montano, Faye-Ann Lyons, Bunji Garlin, Destra and Shurwayne Winchester.
Another indigenous artform, Chutney music, is a blend of East Indian music with soca beats. It too, has become popular abroad and many young singers like Raymond Ramnarine and his band, Dil-E-Nadan; KI and JMC 3veni; Ravi B and Karma are usually on tour to Europe, Holland particularly, at different times of the year.
The emphasis on indigenous music increases around Carnival time with competitions in the various genres which is fueled in part by huge cash payouts for the winners.
The steelpan, the only musical instrument invented in the 20th century, was invented in Trinidad and Tobago and instills a sense of national pride among people from all walks of life. It is played not only during the Carnival period, but at concerts, national ceremonies and private functions. Our steelpan is loved the world over and there are many expositions to various countries throughout the year.
There are key festivals which are a must-see for any visitor. Depending on the time of your visit, there are events such as Best Village or the Tobago Heritage Festival, which both take place around July and August. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the youngest and energetic activities on the Trinidad Calendar and is usually held in Chaguaramas around October to coincide with events to mark the arrival of Chinese immigrants to our shores.
Weeks before Christmas are marked with a musical staple in the form of the Parang Festival, which demonstrates our Spanish heritage through song. Parang, coming from Spanish word ‘parranda’, started as songs of conversion when the Spanish monks tried to sway the Amerindians to Christianity. Centuries later, the Venezuelans who came to Trinidad to work the cocoa plantations (hence, the nickname ‘coco paynols’ for those of Spanish descent), practiced the tradition of celebrating Christmas by moving from house to house as they sang songs from “the Main” (Venezuela) accompanied by guitar, cuatro and shac shac, as they ate, drank and sometimes slept.
In Tobago, the Tobago Jazz Experience is one of those events that everyone looks forward to each year, along with the much loved Tobago Heritage Festival where one can experience the traditional and culture of Tobago first hand.
Trinidad and Tobago is also known for producing literary greats such as the renowned intellect CLR James, Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul, award-winning writers Samuel Selvon, Earl Lovelace and Michael Anthony. We have also adopted St Lucian poet, playwright and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott as a son of the soil, particularly for his contribution to the Trinidad Theatre Workshop.
January 1 New Year’s Day
8 February 2016 Carnival Monday (unofficial holiday)
9 February 2016 Carnival Tuesday (unofficial holiday)
March 30 Spiritual Baptist (Shouter) Liberation
25 March 2016 Good Friday
28 March 2016 Easter Monday
26 May 2016 Corpus Christi
30 May Indian Arrival Day
19 June Labour Day
To Be Announced Divali
To Be Announced Eid-ul-Fitr
1 August Emancipation Day
31 August Independence Day
24 September Republic Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day