Carnival is a high point in the island’s cultural activities, when colourful bands and costumed revellers make up processions through the streets. After some debate it was decided to move Carnival in 1999 from February to July, partly so as not to conflict with Trinidad’s Carnival.
On the Saturday are the calypso finals, on Sunday the King and Queen of the band followed by J’ouvert at 0400 until 0800 or 0900. On Monday and Tuesday the official parades of the bands take place. Most official activities take place at Marchand Ground but warming-up parties and concerts are held all over the place. Tuesday night there is another street party. There is lots of music, dancing and drinking and everything goes on for hours, great stamina is required to keep going.
22 February is Independence Day. On the Sunday preceeding 1 May, the Festival of Comedy is held at Pigeon Point (Cultural Centre if it is raining), organized by the National Trust. The annual St Lucia Jazz Festival in May is now an internationally recognized event, drawing large crowds every year. Most concerts are open-air and take place in the evening, although fringe events are held anywhere, anytime, with local bands playing in Castries at lunchtime. As well as jazz, played by international stars, you can hear Latin, salsa, soca and zouk, steel drums or Bob Marley. For more details. Tickets from US$35 or a season pass US$230. On 29 June St Peter’s Day is celebrated as the Fisherman’s Feast, in which all the fishing boats are decorated. Street parades are held for the Feast of the Rose of Lima (Fét La Wòz), on 30 August, and for the Feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque (La Marguerite), on 17 October, which are big rival flower festivals. The first Monday in October is Thanksgiving, held either to give thanks for no hurricane or for survival of a hurricane.
Another very interesting festival is Jounen Kweyol (Creole Day), on the last Sunday in October. Five rural communities are selected for the celebration. There is local food, craft, music and different cultural shows. Expect traffic jams everywhere that day because people like to visit all the venues across the island. On the first Sunday in October, the different groups give a sample of their show in Pigeon Point Park. A lot is in patois, but even without basic language skills you will have a good time and a chance to sample local food.
22 November is St Cecilia’s Day, also known as Musician’s Day (St Cecilia is the patron saint of music). The most important day, however, is 13 December, St Lucy’s Day, or the National Day, on which cultural and sporting activities are held throughout the island. This used to be called Discovery Day, but as Columbus’ log shows he was not in the area at that time, it was renamed (see History). St Lucy, the patron saint of light, is honoured by a procession of lanterns through Soufrière (in 1997) accompanied by traditional music and mouth watering local foods. For details contact Castries City Council, T4522611 ext 7071. Some processions start around 0400 and are all over by midday.