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CULINARY FOOD, WINE AND RUM FESTIVALS IN THE CARIBBEAN

If you visit the Caribbean and don’t explore the delicacies of the islands you really are missing something special.  The unique blend of island spices, exotic flavors, and fresh herbs can greet you upon entry into the islands.  A delightful fusion of European, African, East Indian, and Cajun dishes are served at every restaurant, street corner, and family dining tables on the islands.

When one thinks of a vacation in the Caribbean the beaches, the sun, palm trees, and the nightlife come to mind because chances are you really haven’t been exposed to island culture, but when you really get to know the Caribbean you would soon realize that food is a big part of the Caribbean culture. 

Caribbean dishes have transcended the borders of the different islands amid the melting of cultures that have left their century-old marks on the islands.  From the culinary treasures of Martinique to the hot and spicy Cajun dishes of Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean food with its flavors, colors, textures and smells is an absolute delicacy when visiting the islands.

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Rum has been around the Caribbean for centuries brought to the islands by Colonial European Nations and is known as a by-product of the sugar trade industry.  The Caribbean is home to some of the world’s most popular, award-winning, best-tasting rums.  

A vacation in the Caribbean will not be complete without some locally made rum or some refreshing rum cocktail.  So, it is not surprising that the majority of the rum exported worldwide comes from distilleries made in the Caribbean.  In the Caribbean, there are mainly two types of rum, dark rum which is aged longer in barrels to give it, its stronger, darker, fuller flavor and light rum which is completely colorless is usually filtered after aging. 

It is said that our little island of Barbados is the birthplace of rum, but today distilleries can be found throughout the islands in the Caribbean.  Among the locals, it is widely said you can find a rum shop on every corner on every island.  So, the next time you are in the Caribbean be sure to visit a rum distillery for an unforgettable rum-making and rum-tasting experience. 

Wine, while the Caribbean is not generally known for its wines and more commonly known as the undisputed home of rum, some islands have recently gone into wine production.  Wines are always a favorite on any dinner table across the region but most were imported wines or imported grapes that produced the wines.  But today, there are a few wineries in the Caribbean that are growing their own grapes of different varieties and creating high-quality Caribbean wines in a variety of flavors. The Caribbean wineries offer a wide range of reds, roses, and whites, natural wines with grapes grown locally on the island.  Islands like Curacao, Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Jamaica have led the way in winemaking in the Caribbean.  

To enjoy the best delicacies and beverages in the Caribbean is to attend one of the multiple Food Festivals held yearly on the islands.  Here we list a few festivals that are sure to make your taste buds wanting more as you sample the various national dishes of the different islands.  

February – The Cayman Food & Drink Festival, Cayman Islands is a yearly festival that has been celebrated on the island for more than 30 years.  The festival attracts the local community as well as thousands of tourists who come yearly to sample the various dishes, wines, liqueurs, and brews organized by the local restaurants and prepared by some of the world’s most talented chefs. The Festival offers something for everyone set along the beautiful seven-mile beach and exhibits some of the, best-renowned chefs, culinary enthusiasts, wine, rum, and liquor experts in the world.  

April – Saborea Food Event, Puerto Rico, the event is known as a Culinary Extravaganza set on the beautiful Escambron Beach in sunny Puerto Rico.  The festival is four days of fun, great food, tasting of wines, beers, and distilled spirits.  Wines grown and imported from the vineyards in California are available for tasting at the festival.  Visitors from all over the world have the opportunity to attend various tastings and cooking demonstrations of some of Puerto Rico’s best Restaurants and Diners.  This culinary festival has become one of the largest in the Caribbean with thousands of visitors from all over the world in attendance. 

April – Blue Food Festival, Tobago. This annual culinary festival focuses on the ground provision called dasheen which comes from a blue root in the ground and can be made in various dishes, appetizers, entrees, liqueurs, and many other innovative creations.  It’s a very popular festival among the islands and cruise ships, as people plan years in advance to attend this festival.  Visitors get a chance to see how the fruit (dasheen) is prepared and to sample the various blue food dishes. It’s also a chance to learn about the history, the people. and the culture of Tobago. The festival has grown so immensely that it is now one of the most anticipated culinary events on the twin-island. 

April – Food and Wine Experience, St. Croix, the festival is held on the largest of the US Virgin Islands, St. Croix. It is famously known for its luscious foliage along with a wide variety of delicious cuisine which is thoroughly enjoyed at the island’s annual food and wine experience.  The festival is catered toward Food, Fun, and Philanthropy with local and celebrity chefs from some of the island’s finest restaurants.  Guests and patrons are sure to enjoy fun friendships, mouthwatering BBQ, lots of entertainment, local activities all under the most beautiful sunset along the Frederiksted Pier.  The Food and Wine Experience has been so successful over the years that Essence magazine was quoted as saying, “Over the last few years, the local scene on the island of St. Croix exploded. The mash-up of Caribbean cultures has made it a unique culinary destination that has caught the attention of foodies everywhere.”

April – Curacao Culinair, Curacao, is a culinary experience like no other held on the island.  At the festival, the patrons can indulge themselves in a wide variety of tasty explosions.  The passion, ambition, and creativity shown in the various dishes, that are prepared at the festival will astound you.  At the experience, you can enjoy a culinary journey with a delightful burst of flavors and taste, all made with local ingredients grown on the island.  The island’s chef takes deep pride in working with local products very passionately and their culinary team with amaze you with local cuisine appealing in taste, texture, and design.  Besides the delicious culinary dishes, the festival is also filled with refreshing, locally-made drinks and plenty of entertainment to entertain you. 

April – Festival Del Mar – – Anguilla– Probably one of the best seafood festivals in the Caribbean held over the Easter weekend.  The festival celebrates all things the sea including deep-sea fishing competition; swimming races for adults and children; crab races and culinary competition among the locals.  The beautiful fishing village of Island Harbour is the home of the annual fishing festivities with plenty of culinary exhibitions; competitions and entertainment throughout the long weekend.  The festival attracts a sizeable presence of tourists and patrons from the neighboring islands as the event is highly marketed by the Anguilla Tourism Board.  Visitors also have the opportunity to learn about Anguilla’s cultural traditions and seafaring heritage. This celebration by the sea is a great way to experience Anguillan food, culture, music, and the warm and friendly people of this small beautiful island.

May – Chocolate Festival – Grenada, the Spice island of the Caribbean is also very productive in the growth of cocoa farming from which it produces chocolate as part of the island’s chocolate-making culture.  The Chocolate Fest is an annual festival that takes place on the island to celebrate the annual harvest production from the cocoa plantation to the beautiful taste of the finished product. The festival activities include tours to local cocoa farms where tourists and locals can learn the day-to-day making of chocolate, commonly known as tree-to-bar, Dancing-the-cocoa, cooking, tasting and preparing chocolate demonstrations on the island while enjoying the island’s local rum, cuisine, and music.  Visitors can also sail or snorkel in the warm tropical waters while enjoying a beautiful Caribbean sunset and a locally-made Grenadian chocolate bar. It’s a chocolate adventure of a lifetime you won’t want to miss 

July – Portland Jerk Festival, Jamaica is the largest food festival held annually on the island.  The festival is centered around food and family entertainment with a host of cultural performances performed by some of the island’s local artists. The festival attracts culinary chefs from around the world preparing some of the best Jerk chicken and pork dishes throughout the island.  The festival promises a full day of fun, food, and music for the entire family.

August – The Breadfruit Festival, St. Vincent. This annual festival is held to commemorate the different types of breadfruit grown on the island.  There are around 25 different varieties of breadfruit grown on the island. The breadfruit forms part of the island’s national dish alongside fried jackfish and vegetables.  Held every weekend in August patrons and visitors alike can enjoy the several variations of the prepared fruit along with daily and nightly entertainment, which include dancing, drumming, and live calypso/soca music. 

September – Food & Rum Festival, St Lucia, the festival is a celebration of the island’s culinary heritage.  The event features the island’s best culinary demonstrations, Caribbean wine, and rum tastings, restaurant and dining events; accompanied by social, artistic, and musical entertainment throughout the festival.  The three-day festival is a collaboration between the island’s award-winning chefs and world-renowned acclaimed chefs.  The Festival explores the sensational flavors of St Lucia and the Caribbean rum-infused delicacies and culinary menus. The festival is geared to informing patrons about the diversity of Caribbean food and the unique flavors behind the production of rum on the islands.  

OctoberFood, Wine and Rum Festival, Barbados. The four-day festival is a world-class culinary event designed to attract locals and tourists so they can experience the very best of the island’s food, wine, rum, and culture.  Barbados rum is well-renowned around the world and the festival is held to mark the tradition of the making of rum.  The event brings together the finest local and foreign award-winning chefs who absorb the opportunity to show off their unique culinary skills. The festival attracts thousands of food and rum lovers who brave the trip to enjoy the culinary cuisine and the fine tasting Barbados rum.  There is plenty of entertainment and nightly activities throughout the festival.

November – Conch Festival, Turks and Caicos is an annual celebration held in the Settlement of scenic Blue Hills in close proximity to Grace Bay.  The Seafood Festival started about a decade ago to commemorate the island’s national symbol and top export, the marine snail, or conch as it is commonly called, to celebrate the different dishes made out of conch on the island. The festival showcases all things conch with numerous dishes made by locals and restaurants and patrons can sample most of these dishes during the festival.  In addition to the cuisine, the festival boasts of having live music, games, entertainment, and a fun-filled day for the entire family.

December – Spices of the Caribbean, St Lucia, the Caribbean has achieved worldwide success in growing and distributing spices to global markets around the world.  The festival is a culinary celebration with particular emphasis on St Lucian rum and rum-infused cuisine influenced by unique ingredients and spices grown on the island.  At the festival, be prepared to endure the smell of spices like nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, cloves, which all used in the making of rum and spicy rum cocktails.  Discover the aroma of delicious Caribbean cuisine adorned with the island’s organic grown produce and spices.  The festival is well attended and a great opportunity for patrons to enjoy a taste of St. Lucian cuisine and local rum.

Let us know of any other Food Festivals in the Caribbean you will like to add to this list.

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