Written by: Mikelah Rose
The sun’s out, which means it’s time to grab your friends and take a local road trip with some island flavor. Although you may not be able to get to the Caribbean this summer, you can still experience the food, culture, music and all around Caribbean vibes right here in the United States.
Here are some of the best Caribbean festivals happening this summer that you don’t want to miss.
Afro-Latino Fest celebrates the contributions of Latin American and Caribbean cultures in New York City and around the globe. Headlining the musical performances this year is Grammy Award-winning salsa vocalist José Alberto “El Canario. There will also be a musical tribute to Ismael Rivera and Tite Curet Alonso, panel discussions, culinary tastings, a marketplace and more.
Grab your crew and head to Atlantic City for a Beach Road Trip Weekend. The annual all-inclusive beach weekend is the perfect getaway. It features 6 Caribbean themed parties with Dancehall and Soca artists (Bunji Garlin, Shenseea, Skinny Fabulous, Voice and Ding Dong), food, drinks, and top Caribbean DJs.
A Caribbean concert at Six Flags? It’s the perfect mashup of culture and fun. Spend the day at the amusement park with your fam-lay-lay-lay, then head to the park’s outdoor festival-like arena for a full concert from some of Soca and Dancehall’s hottest stars. This year’s lineup includes Machel Montano, Skinny Fabulous, Nadia Batson, Teddyson John and more to be added. (Ticket prices include entrance to the park, safari, and concert).
CARIFESTA is a free Caribbean music and arts festival celebrating Caribbean-American heritage. It’s all about the culture, food, and music that the entire family can enjoy.
This is a festival that the mature crowd flocks to, and with good reason. Groovin’ in the Park has a long-standing reputation for bringing together classic R&B (or as my fellow Jamaicans say “Souls”), Reggae, and a splash of Dancehall. It’s a guaranteed good time for everyone who attends. This year’s perfect mashup includes Michael Bolton, Beres Hammond, Sizzla, David Rodigan and Third World.
Ditch work and play hookie just like you did in high school. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Hookie Weekend aka DC Carnival brings the carnival vibes to Washington, DC with a non-stop pump of Soca music complete with five themed parties (including a J’ouvert experience and performance by Kes the Band), and a line up of your favorite soca DJs.
The Hollywood Carnival parade is a festival comprising of a variety of cultures that make up Los Angeles’ melting pot of Caribbean, Latin and African cultures. Events include parties, live performances at the Culture Village, Parade of Bands, and end with The Parade of Cultures.
Who can resist the greatness of a good plate of jerk cuisine? Jerk Fest NYC is a different kind of food festival, alongside the usual food sampling and cooking demonstrations, there are also vendors and Caribbean artist performances so you can enjoy a full day of family-friendly festivities.
New Orleans has a deep connection to the Caribbean, so it’s fitting that they have a festival celebration connected to the city’s rich heritage. The NOLA Caribbean Festival is an annual multi-cultural Caribbean festival showcasing Caribbean cuisine, music, and culture in a way that only New Orleans can showcase.
Picture the sweet sounds of Reggae music on the beautiful backdrop of northern California’s Eel River, that’s Reggae on the River, a 3-day festival where you can hear Reggae, Dancehall, Ska and Dub from new artists you haven’t heard of, and some you know. This year’s headliner is Damian Marley.