Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique are seafaring islands with a long history of sea trading, fishing and boat building and today this is how many still continue to make their living. This close relationship with the sea and tradition of sailing remains one of the most significant in the local culture. The friendly rivalry that always exists between closely knit communities has often been expressed in competition amongst fisherman and their boat-builders to be the fastest or the best, and has led to organized regattas, races and angling events, each community wishing to prove their ability.
The year begins in Grenada with one of the main annual angling events, the Spice Island Billfish Tournament, looking to hand out prizes for top boats and heaviest fish: categories include Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin. Anglers from across the Caribbean join in the thrill of landing a catch in some of the region’s best game fish waters as well as taking the opportunity to show off their pride and joy in the boat parade and enjoy the hospitality of the Grenada Yacht Club at a celebration dinner. Soon afterwards and also in January is another boating event, the Grenada Sailing Festival, featuring four days of races and regattas and a day-long craft market and street festival. The event combines yacht racing for ocean-going keelboats off the southern coast of Grenada together with a two day local Workboat Regatta off Grand Anse Beach. This unique mix of International boats and traditional wooden workboats creates a huge amount of interest for the event, particularly overseas.
Grenada has recently begun to host an event in the Classic Yacht Regatta season, in the third week of February, where the attraction is to see acres of canvas, wooden masts, schooners, spirit of tradition yachts, vintage and classics, workboats and gaff cutters sailing over three days of races and entertainment, in azure waters within palm-lined bays with white sandy beaches. The Grenada Round the Island Easter Regatta was a well established event during the seventies and eighties, when a growing number of pleasure boats would anchor in the newly created St George’s Lagoon and take part in the exciting event. Recently revived by a new generation of young enthusiastic sailors, it is organized by the Grenada South Coast Yacht Club, and has re-established itself as a highlight on the Caribbean sailing calendar, combining elements of traditional yachting and classic sailing over five days. In the summer season, the action shifts to Carriacou, with a regatta accompanied by fun family activities such as donkey racing, a greasy pole contest and wet T-shirt contests.
Away from the yachting scene, there are plenty more festivals and events to delight and entertain. The Grenada Drum Festival transforms Krumahville in the village of Tivoli into a traditional Caribbean village where you are invited to sample typical Grenadian dishes, browse among the arts and crafts stalls and of course witness the traditional drumming and dancing performances, harking back to the culture of the African slave ancestors of some of today’s residents of the islands which is preserved and celebrated here. Groups from the professional local scene as well as international groups will come together annually to produce a thunderous cacophony of pulsating Caribbean beats sustained over a period of three days, with drumming and dancing workshops available to encourage newcomers to keep the tradition alive.
Emancipation Day in Grenada is held on the first Monday in August and commemorates the abolition of slavery. Soon afterwards, the carnival celebrations commence, marking the islands’ biggest annual party. Starting at dawn on Carnival Monday, the streets of Grenada ’s towns are filled with traditional masquerades featuring devils or ‘Jab-Jabs’ and social commentaries of the past year or ‘Ole Mas’. Revellers and masqueraders alike dance to the sounds of live bands and DJs playing popular carnival hits. Grenada and Carriacou exude carnival warmth and vitality during these days of tumultuous celebration, and a chance to witness these events is not to be missed!