Turks and Caicos is well known for its laid back vibe that radiates from the blissed out beaches and luxury resorts that create a total sense of peace and harmony. Although when the islands want to jump off and celebrate they sure know how to throw one heck of a party. At any time of year chances are something will be going on. Whether it’s a shindig at the resort, a night out at a local pub or patio with live music and dancing (mashing sand, as they say in the Caribbean), or one of the festivals – the people in Turks and Caicos are always ringing in the good cheer in one way or another. What follows is a list of the festivals that happen throughout the year. Use this guide as a general reference point to research further information if something really catches your attention. Then perhaps book your next Turks and Caicos vacation around one of the solid festivals. (Or, hey, just know what you can look forward to when do your groovy trip into the Caribbean.
Junkanoo: Each year around Christmas time, the entire island goes off for Junkanoo. This street parade is popular throughout several Caribbean islands and has its roots with West African origins, believed to have first started in the 16th century when the slaves were given a special holiday where they left the plantation and and celebrated with their families. The celebration itself consists of vibrancy of all varieties, life and joy and love expressed through dance and costumes and music. The biggest day celebrations of this multi day festival are on Emancipation Day, Boxing Day, and early early New Year’s Day as the revellers ring in the New Year with outrageous and vibrant attire and attitudes. This is an excellent party and cultural experience to get involved in and comes highly recommended.
Valentine’s Day Cup: The regatta season kicks off with the Valentine’s Day Cup, consisting of sailboat races at Bambarra Beach and Middle Caicos. Come and cheer on the Traditional Model Sailboat Race (built from the branches of the gum-elemi tree, scale model with actual rigging from full-size sloops) for a fun peek at the past and the rich history of Turks and Caicos and its sailing identity. After the trophies and prizes are handed out, it’s time to get let loose with some excellent music, dancing, food, and festivities right on the beach.
St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl: Providenciales gets in touch with their Irish side and celebrates St Paddy’s Day in grand style with a legendary pub crawl that has been going strong for over 20 years. It usually starts at the Tiki Hut and ends up at Danny Buoy’s, and you can sink plenty of cold ones along the way.
Annual Kite-Flying Competition: Oh yes, if you’re into kites and or kiting, this is the Woodstock of Kites in the Caribbean. Now in it’s 25th year, the kite flying competition hands out awards for best homemade kites, judging based on how well they look and how well they fly. Then, of course, there’s a beach party with food and music and, thematically since it’s held on Easter Monday, an Easter egg hunt!
Big South Regatta: Down in South Caicos, the Big South Regatta is a popular boating race that has been a tradition since 1967. Everyone comes out to cheer on the boats slice lines through the azure waters and celebrate the good life with concerts, food, and entertainers.
Fools’ Regatta, Providenciales. This beach party celebrating all things maritime and sea based, which is obviously an important component of Turks and Caicos culture, featuring native sloops in sailing races and a sand-castle competition – on the water and the shore, with proceeds gong towards local causes.
Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival: The Music and Cultural Festival is an epic eight-day festival that attracts big-name talent from all over the world. Past musicians have included Lionel Ritchie and LL Cool J, with performances aired on BET a celebration of African roots and contemporary Caribbean vibe. Come mash sand with pageants, parades, and regattas alongside the nonstop musical entertainment.
Emancipation Day: on August 1st, the nation celebrates the freeing of the slaves from colonial rule in 1834.
Turks & Caicos Restaurant Week: When you want to experience the best of the best Caribbean cuisine, get into Restaurant Week, a newly launched event that sees many of the finest eateries in the islands offering three-course prix-fixe menus during the first week of November. With so many excellent dishes to choose from, may as well just try as much as you can during this week.
Turks & Caicos Conch Festival: If there’s one thing TCI knows its conch. This fesitval is fast becoming one of the top events, with a “conch-etition” where local restaurants vie to claim the top position in the conch world. Experience some of the most innovative and creative cuisine using conch as the feature ingredient. Similar to Bubba of Bubba Gump Shrimp, some conch concoctions include conch chowder, conch curry, conch fritters, and conch salad. And of course there’s a huge party with music and other food and some genuine conch-blowing and conch art.
Christmas: Festivities include a Tree-Lighting Ceremony including a choir and a visit from Santa Claus. There’s a tree ornament competition and many resorts will feature some sort of special Christmas celebration for guests visiting during the holiday seasons. Get your red and white toque on and drink a margarita on the beach on Christmas morning.
Old Year’s Night: The entire island rings out the old and in with the new via church services on December 31.