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Festivals and carnivals in the Caribbean

The Caribbean islands are well known for being places to enjoy lively parades with vibrant music, dance and carnival fun. Whichever island you're planning on visiting there's sure to be something exciting going on that you can join while you're there.

Take a look below for some of the top carnival and festival highlights in the Caribbean.

Enjoy carnivals and sports festivals in Antigua and Barbuda

The islands of Antigua and Barbuda have several sporting events and festivals throughout the year including the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in April, Tennis Week in May, a Sport Fishing Tournament in June and a Mango Festival celebrating the delicious fruit in July.

As well as these, the Caribana carnival in May is a celebration of local soca and calypso music to dance to and colourful parades to watch. The biggest carnival in the region is the Antigua and Barbuda Carnival which lasts for two weeks from July to August. You can soak up the fun atmosphere and see Carnival Queen Contests, steel band competitions and spectacular costumes.

See amazing floats and vibrant costumes in Aruba

The Aruba Carnival in Oranjestad happens in February and lasts a month, ending just before Lent each year. It features stunning floats, flamboyant costumes, children's parades and some lively dancing. There's plenty of lively dance music and lots of fun activities going on throughout the day and well into the night. You can also watch watersports races and enjoy the ceremony as the carnival king and queen are crowned.

Join in the jazz festival and the sugar cane harvest celebrations in Barbados

Barbados hosts a wide range of sporting events and festivals during the year including the Sand Lane Gold Cup horse racing at the Barbados Turf Club, and Rally Barbados motor racing event.

It also holds the internationally acclaimed Barbados Jazz Festival and the Holetown Festival which celebrates the first settlement on the island in February 1627. However, the biggest event of the year is Crop Over, which starts in July and is a five week festival celebrating the end of the local sugar cane harvest. This street carnival celebrates the music, culture, food and drink of the island and everyone is invited to the party.

Dance and listen to the live performances in Cuba

In Cuba there's usually a fun street party going on somewhere and music to keep your feet tapping and fun party style events throughout the year. There are several jazz festivals, including the Havana Jazz Festival held in February with concerts and street music.

The Havana Carnival in July is an energetic parade of performances, vibrant costumes and dance. Santiago de Cuba festival is also in July and is one enormous street party with stalls serving local food and drink, plus live music and dance. Later in the year, December sees in the Remedios festival, which celebrates Christmas with neighbourhood parties and fireworks.

Take in some Merengue dance and music in the Dominican Republic

If you're visiting the Dominican Republic in February you'll find carnival parades every Sunday throughout the month, with the biggest and boldest being the La Vega Carnival on the last Sunday. There is also the Merengue Festival in Santo Domingo town in July which celebrates the Dominican Republic's own merengue style of music and dance.

Whale watching season is also a big event in Samana from mid-January to mid-March each year. It's when you can spot the annual migration of hundreds of humpback whales.

Listen to jazz and blues and try some tasty seafood in Jamaica

Whether you're looking for celebrations with food, music or sports, Jamaica is sure to have something exciting to interest you. The biggest event on the island is the Bacchanal carnival which lasts for eight weeks during Easter with events in Montego Bay, Negril and Kingston.

There's also the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in January, the Blue Mountain Music Festival in February and the Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay in July. If you'd like to sample some of the tastiest Caribbean food, try out the Rainforest Seafood and Music Festival in February.

Marvel at the spectacular displays at the La Rose Flower Festival in St Lucia

Visitors to St Lucia also have a wide choice of carnivals and festivals to enjoy during their holiday. There's the Jazz Festival in May, the St Lucia Carnival in July, a real feast of colour and scent at the La Rose Flower Festival in August and the stunning Festival of Lights in December.

As well as these vibrant celebrations you can get involved in the Fisherman's Feast in July, which is a traditional thanksgiving celebration by the islands' fishermen. It starts with a church mass and then becomes a celebration featuring brightly coloured boats, music, food and a beauty pageant.

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