By Chris Factor

If you were born in the Caribbean or you’re of Caribbean heritage, then your love for Caribbean music is in your blood. No matter what you do, you can’t shake it and why would you want to? Our music and our events are amazing. So amazing that people from other parts of the world travel thousands of miles to experience just a small piece of our culture.

Here are some of our best picks for Caribbean music festivals and events that are not to be missed.

Rebel Salute, Jan. 12-13, 2018, Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, Priory St. Ann, Jamaica

“Jah, Rastafari” “Love & Harmony”, “Roots & Culture” are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of this very well-organized event. One of Jamaica’s brightest stars, Patrick “Tony Rebel” Barrett, started this event back in 1994 as a celebration of his birthday. Since then, this event has become one of the most talked about and well attended events in Jamaica. This year’s lineup includes Third World, Cocoa Tea, Richie Spice, Bushman, Agent Sasco, JC Lodge, Queen Ifrica, Barrington Levy, Freddie McGregor, Luciano, Sanchez, I-Wayne and the list goes on. Gather your family and go experience the music, the food and the energy of this event. Note: no alcohol or meat is available or allowed. Nothing but clean air and healthy eats.

For more information and to book your tickets go to https://firstinlineja.com/rebel-salute-2018/

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, Feb. 12 -Feb. 13, 2018

Well if you haven’t booked your tickets for this yet you’re probably out of luck. Hotels are generally booked well in advance and airline tickets are more expensive the closer you get, but if you have family in Trinidad and some frequent flyer miles, then go for it. The celebration begins with J’Ouvert at 4 am on Monday Feb. 12 and continues into Carnival with the Parade of Bands, Pan on the Road and other festivities.

For more details, check out http://www.tntisland.com/events2018.html.

Pure Grenada Music Festival, April 13 – 15, 2018 Port St. Louis Lawn, St. George’s, Grenada

This may be the youngest festival in the Caribbean, but Pure Grenada Music Festival is making an impact. The philosophy of the founders, as stated on their website is as follows: A special part of the appeal surrounding the Pure Grenada Music Festival is its quest to establish a ‘pure approach’ to the music and performances it offers. This means an all-embracing philosophy for the art form, with no filtering out of certain music genres. If it has integrity – if it is ‘pure’ music – we will include it.

As the signature fundraising event of Music and Beyond, the festival is a demonstration of the belief that “every talented musician in Grenada should have the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential in order to participate in, and contribute to, the music industry.”

This year’s lineup includes Morgan Heritage, Jah9 and Protoje, with other artists soon to be announced.

For more information log on to http://www.grenadamusicfestival.com/

St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, May 6 – 13, 2018, various venues Gros Islet

This is a celebration of Saint Lucian, Caribbean and international jazz music, with events in all parts of the country – a mix of free and paying concerts, educational activities targeted at Saint Lucian and visiting musicians, culminating on Mothers’ Day, May 13, 2018, in a major concert at the Pigeon Island National Landmark.

Originally launched in 1992, the festival was created to attract tourists to St. Lucia during their slow season. Over time the festival featured other genres – R&B, pop and reggae acts and has featured legendary jazz artists like Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis and George Benson.

For more information or to book tickets go to http://www.stlucia.org/jazzfestival/

St. Kitts Music Festival, June 27 – July 1, 2018, Warner Park Stadium, Basseterre

For the past 21 years, the St. Kitts Music Festival has been offering patrons a diverse mix of music, including dancehall, reggae, soca, hip-hop and more. Fortunately, they were not heavily affected by last year’s hurricanes. This year’s festival lineup is not yet available, but if it’s anything like the past years, it is sure to be nothing shy of amazing.

Stay up to date on what’s happening by checking out http://www.stkittsmusicfestival.net/

Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest, July 15 – 21, 2018 various venues, Montego Bay, Jamaica

If you’re Jamaican and don’t know about Reggae Sumfest, then you need to give up your citizenship. Reggae Sumfest was started in 1993 by Robert Russell and Johnny Gourzong, along with a dedicated group of Montego Bay business and cultural interests after Reggae Sunsplash left Montego Bay on its journey into unfortunate demise. Reggae Sumfest then thrived and adapted through decades, incorporating performances during the coming years of some of the biggest stars in music, including Rihanna, Kanye West, Usher, Christopher Brown, Alicia Keys, Nicky Minaj, 50 Cent, Lionel Ritchie, and numerous other international stars. Faithfully, it also presented the greatest and most authentic lineups of the Jamaican and International stars of Reggae and Dancehall artists such as Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley, Dennis Brown, Toots & The Maytals, Beres Hammond, Burning Spear, The Mighty Diamonds, Sugar Minott, Gregory Issacs, Frankie Paul, Jimmy Cliff, Freddie McGregor, Tarrus Riley, Barrington Levy, Chronixx, Buju Banton, Luciano, Shaggy, Shabba Ranks, Vybz Kartel, Bounty Killer, Ninja Man, Elephant man, Beenie Man, Capleton, Lady Saw, Spice, Popcaan, Tommy Lee Sparta, and virtually every artist of merit in the world of Jamaican Reggae and Dancehall music. Besides being the largest music festival in Jamaica, Reggae Sumfest is truly the most authentic Reggae and Dancehall Festival in the world.

In 2016, DownSound Entertainment, headed by Jamaican based music and media entrepreneur, Joseph Bogdanovich, purchased Reggae Sumfest from Summerfest Productions. According to news reports and attendees, the festival continues to exceed expectations and satisfy audiences.

For news on this year’s lineup visit http://reggaesumfest.com/

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