Island Festivals Around the World: Summer 2011
Whether it's a sailing jaunt in Newport or a getaway to the Caribbean for jazz and sunshine, islands and festivals are two universally adored vacation themes. With summer 2011 right around the corner, we decided to look for opportunities to combine the two. Spread out from May through September, these island festivals will provide you with culture, celebration and endless perspectives on "oceanview."
By: Lena Katz
Figawi | Nantucket, MA
The island of Nantucket is a famed New England summer destination, with fair winds and frothy waves offshore, sandy beaches and historic cobblestone charm. Summer sailing events start on Memorial Day Weekend with Figawi, a rowdy regatta that draws more than a thousand fun-loving sailors from the Northeast and beyond. Nantucket Race Week and the Opera House Cup Regatta are classic New England traditions. The eight-day Race Week is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Nantucket Community Sailing and one of the biggest social events of the calendar year to boot. The Opera House Cup Regatta is heading into its fourth decade and is known for attracting serious sailors and stunning, race-ready classic yachts from around the country.
Figawi May 28-30, 2011
New England Race Week August 13-21, 2011
Opera House Cup Regatta August 21, 2011
Where to Stay: Union Street Inn
Photo Credit: Britt Crosby
Hamilton Harbor Nights | Bermuda
Live music and street vendors; food carts and face painters; crowds of people thronging to the main drag on a warm summer's evening...the once-weekly evening street fair is a summertime tradition that hearkens back to almost every American's youth. Hamilton Harbor Nights is a newer fair, now in its 10th year, but already stamped with Bermuda's particular brand of island-Colonial charm. The Bermuda Regiment band appears in full regalia, complete with pipes and drums. Hand-blown glassware and hand-carved Bermuda cedar products are on display in the craft stalls, while children can get their hair braided island-style in the Children's Court.
Every Wednesday (7-10 p.m.) from May 18-August 31, 2011
Where to stay: Fairmont Hamilton Princess is a JustLuxe.com favorite and ideally located.
Eleuthera Pineapple Festival | Bahamas
For those who enjoy local/regional/seasonal food festivals, Eleuthera's annual celebration of the pineapple is quirky (the program lineup includes Old Time Pineapple Crazy Sports), earthy (its main goal is to honor the island's pineapple farmers) and refreshing. Between the pineapple eating contest and the cooking-with-pineapple competition, attendees will get their fill of the quintessential tropical fruit. Afterward, visitors can relax on the island's renowned pink sand beaches or explore its archaeological landmarks. As one of the few developed "Out Islands" of the Bahamas, Eleuthera can feel very far from civilization, but actually is easily accessible from Nassau and South Florida.
Dates: June 1-5, 2011
Where to stay: Pineapple Fields Eleuthera
Crop Over | Barbados
Celebrating the end of the sugar cane harvest, this annual tradition may have started out in the fields, but in modern-day Barbados, festival spirit is pervasive across the island. Local merchants decorate their restaurants and shops, favorite island musicians play soca and steel pan, and competition is fierce in the calypso tents to crown the next "Pic-o-de-Crop" champion. It can be hard for a visitor to figure out exactly how to dive into Crop Over festivities, but locals recommend paying a visit to Bridgetown Market, parading in mud and/or oil on "Fore Day," and joining a costume band for the big parades and parties on Kadooment Day.
Dates: July 1-August 1, 2011
Where to Stay: The House in St. James
Taiwan Culinary Festival | Taiwan
Whether it's honoring traditional holidays or contemporary culture, the tiny country of Taiwan knows how to celebrate a special occasion. It pulls out all the stops, with over-the-top decorations, massive exhibitions and huge, yet surprisingly polite, crowds. The annual Taiwan Culinary Festival is a delicious example. About a dozen distinct areas showcase various aspects of Taiwan's inventive and diverse cuisine. From the Siraya Pavilion comes freshwater fish and lotus; from the Food Court, the best in street food. Celebrity chefs and hotels each have their own display as well. Try Hakka specialties, island-grown organic fruits and heady millet wine.
Dates: August 15-18, 2011
Where to Stay: Palais de Chine
San Pedro Lobsterfest | Belize
While lobster season on its own is a mouthwatering reason to visit Belize, true seafood lovers would categorize San Pedro's annual week-long lobster festival as something of a sacred pilgrimage, not just a vacation. Beach carnivals, BBQs, pub crawls, live concerts and endless all-you-can-eat lobster feasts culminate in the Lobsterfest Town Block Party. Every year, thousands of attendees strive to solve the big question: Can you ever get enough of this tasty crustacean? And judging by the number of return visitors, the answer would be: No!
Dates: June 19-25, 2011
Where to Stay: Las Terrazas Resort
Photo Credit: OliveraRusuPhoto.com
Whale Shark Festival | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Larger than most whales and a thousand times gentler than its killer cousins, the whale shark is among Quintana Roo's most unexpectedly loveable offshore species. Anyone who comes into its proximity is fascinated by the size and the peculiar grace of this creature - officially recorded as the biggest fish in the world. People from all around the world come to Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox to swim with the whale sharks in season and Isla Mujeres even has an annual festival in their honor. Since not all the activities can take place out to sea, the schedule also includes local dance performances, culinary events and art/craft displays.
Dates: July 15-17, 2011
Where to Stay: Ixchel Beach Resort
Hemingway Days | Key West, FL
Throughout the year, Key West offers a colorful and highly original lineup of events, but Hemingway Days could win the award for "Most Quirky, Yet Brainy." Dozens of Ernest Hemingway lookalikes and hundreds of literary lushes converge upon Key West to celebrate the life of one of its most famous former residents. Appropriate to Hemingway's singular tastes, the event lineup includes a deep-sea fishing tournament, a mock "Running of the Bulls," and a literary competition judged by Lorian Hemingway ("Papa" Ernest's granddaughter). Oh, and there's plenty of boozing involved too...not to mention, many six-toed cats (Hemingway's preferred pet). Dozens currently live in his former home, which is now a museum.
Dates: July 19-24, 2011
Where to Stay: The Reach Resort, Hyatt Key West
Le Conversazioni: Writers in Conversation | Capri
Hotel Punta Tragara on the island of Capri hosts one of the most aesthetically inspiring literary festivals of the summer. Now in its sixth year, Le Conversazioni has a different theme every year. This time, it's "Eros." American authors like Nicole Krauss (History of Love) and Donna Tartt (The Secret History) host interactive discussions and take part in candid interviews before a mixed audience of international and local literary aficionados. Though open to island residents, the event takes place in a fairly intimate setting: a converted Mediterranean villa historically owned by nobility. Events take place at sunset, to leave the days open for sunbathing and island explorations.
Dates: Weekends only, June 24-July 3, 2011
Where to Stay: Hotel Punta Tragara
Carnival | St. Lucia
Among the Caribbean destinations that celebrate Carnival in summer (so as not to compete with the major ones that take place before Lent in the spring), St. Lucia puts on a lively affair. The Carnival Queen, Calypso Monarch and Panorama Champions lead the festivities. In the main parade, the competition is not amongst dance krewes or floats, but live bands vying for "Band of the Year." Attendees are encouraged to dress up in Carnival costumes, join the local revelers and dance to the music.
Dates: July 18-19, 2011
Where to Stay: Cap Maison, Cotton Tree Village
Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival | Curacao
Every Caribbean island from Jamaica to St. Lucia has its own music festival, but this year, everyone's eyes, and ears, are trained on Curacao. The former Dutch colony is celebrating its independence with a world-class jazz festival featuring some of the biggest names in the genre. This is actually the second year for the festival and the headliners alone prove that it'll be an international event. Friday's acts include disco greats Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire, followed by legendary British crooner Sting. On Saturday, the lineup is more Latin-Caribbean, featuring Ruben Blades, Chucho Valdes & Afro Cuban Messengers, and meringue star Juan Luis Guerra. And if the final headliner, the one and only Stevie Wonder, is any indication, this festival is bound to end on a high note, with many encores indeed.
Dates: Labor Day Weekend, September 2-3, 2011
Where to Stay: Kura Hulanda Spa