Local Cultural and Sporting Events & Notable-Day Celebrations on Tobago
This page details Tobago's most important and popular social, cultural and sporting events. Dates for the events are shown in our previous article, the Calendar of Events. The events are listed in alphabetical order.
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RSR Tobago Carnival Regatta
Previously known as the Angostura Yachting World Regatta, it might not be the biggest Caribbean race week, but it's certainly the best. Held in mid-February, the event features four days of yacht racing in four classes - racing, cruising, charter and liveaboard. A Regatta Village is set up in the gardens of the Crown Point Beach Resort at Store Bay and there are various organised (and unorganised) parties, games and other events.
Further information: www.Sailweek.com
RSR Carib Great Race
The annual Great Race is an exciting power boat race that starts in Carenage in Trinidad and ends at Store Bay in Tobago. Boats of different classes compete in different classes. Some average more than 90 mph on the 85 mile crossing. The event is held in early September.
Further information: www.ttpba.com
RSR Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament
Taking place in March, during the prime fishing season, this event attracts game fishermen and women from Trinidad, the Caribbean region and internationally. The event is held in Charlotteville.
Further information: www.TGFT.com
Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso and steel band and the Trinidad Carnival is an experience not to be missed. Locals describe it as the Greatest Show on Earth! and they're not far wrong. Hot on the heels of the world's largest, glitziest Rio Carnival, and the weirdest, most mind-blowing New Orleans Mardi Gras, the two-day Trinidad Carnival is by far the biggest carnival in the Caribbean and has become a national obsession involving the entire population. There are numerous associated events leading up to the actual Carnival.
Tobago has its own Carnival, but this is much smaller and more community-based affair than the main event in Port-of-Spain. It takes place in Scarborough and as the town becomes extremely crowded and is closed to road traffic, it is essential to get there very early if you want a good view. The two days of carnival (Monday and Tuesday) are not officially public holidays, but effectively treated as such with all banks and many shops and businesses closed for business.
Dates for the Trinidad Carnival for the next few years are as follows:
- 16-17 February 2015
- 8-9 February 2016
- 27-28 February 2017
- 12-13 February 2018
- 4-5 March 2019
- 24-25 February 2020
We can strongly recommend a holiday in Tobago with a few days visit to Trinidad for Carnival. However, be warned that you will need to book the nights in Trinidad several years in advance - seriously!
Further Information: www.tntisland.com
This Hindu festival, in late October/early November, is known as the Festival of Lights due to the tradition of illuminating deyas (wick-equipped clay pots) in honour of Lakshmi, the goddess of light, beauty, riches and love.
Held in November, Eid marks the end of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim year). Fasting is practised from sunrise to sunset and the end of the fast commemorated by feasting and almsgiving; food is shared with friends and neighbours of all beliefs.
RSR Emancipation Day
RSR Goat & Crab races
Traditionally held at Buccoo over the Easter weekend, these races can be hilarious to watch, which should not take away from the seriousness with which they are taken by the participants, those betting and most locals. Sadly, the ill-conceived new stadium at Buccoo has destroyed the vibe and the event is now in serious decline at that venue. Fortunately, it seems to have found a new and more approriate home at the nearby Mount Pleasant recreation ground, on Easter Monday.
RSR Great Fete Weekend
Great Fete Weekend is an annual beach party at Pigeon Point Beach Resort and other popular locations in Tobago. The event attract local DJs and Soca and Dancehall stars from Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands. The party was born out of the celebrations surrounding the annual power boat racing event. See www.facebook.com/GreatFete for more information.
RSR Harvest Festivals
The Harvest Festivals recognise the importance of food in Tobagonian tradition and are community feasts held in different parts of the island throughout the year. Villagers invite friends, family and strangers to their homes to share Thanksgiving meals. The festivities start with a church service and end with a cantata by the village choir.
RSR Indian Arrival Day
Celebrated on the 30 May to commemorate the first arrival of indentured labourers from India, following the emancipation of African slaves in 1838. The celebration is an affirmation of the contribution of Indo-Trinidadians as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, with re-enactments and street parades.
RSR Pan Jazz in de Yard
Acting as a replacement for the ill-fated Plymouth Jazz Festival, this event features a line up of acclaimed local and overseas jazz and pan artists. A press release from the festival organisers can be downloaded here.
RSR Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day
Celebrated on 30 March of each year to commemorate the abolition of the British-instituted Shouters Prohibition Ordinance, which forbade participation in this African-influenced religion.
RSR Tobago Fest
This mini-carnival style event takes place in September. In keeping with Carnival tradition there’s a Parade of Bands, a Fest Queen Contest, Night Mas’, J’Ouvert, soca concerts and steelband.
RSR Tobago Heritage Festival
Tobagonians are very proud of their culture and history. The Tobago Heritage Festival occurs every year from the middle of July to early August. Villagers from different communities comes out in their glory to perform with folk singing, dancing and feasting. The villagers dress up in traditional costumes that depict village life from the early 1900's. During the year each community has its own festival. Each village has different events which range from 'ole time mas, 'ole time dance, old time wedding, limbo and jig to stick fighting.