Not only the perfect place to enjoy the ocean, the beaches and the gorgeous climate, one of the most beautiful island groups on earth plays host to a number of cultural events on an annual basis which celebrate aspects of the islands’ heritage as well as providing entertainment and activities for locals and visitors alike.
The Cayman Arts Festival takes place early in the year and is growing in popularity after three years’ of providing a series of enormously enjoyable performances, demonstrations and workshops. World class musicians occupy the centre stage in the programme of events from opera to pop, from classic to modern, from strings to beat-box, alongside fringe events which are designed to encompass a variety of aspects of Caymanian culture. Guests are encouraged to get involved during hands-on demonstrations, local entertainment and taste testing of local cuisine, events springing up across Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The annual Cayfest is another event in the diary of every Cayman islander; a national festival which is a celebration of local culture for all ages featuring exhibitions of visual arts, poetry readings, drama and dance, live music and storytelling. Among recent activities has been street chalk drawing: having decorated the streets of the islands with their own designs, children watched as the firemen came to wash the works away as a grand finale, even changing into their costumes in order to enjoy the full force of the hose down.
Spring brings the absolute highlight of the Cayman Islands’ calendar, the Batabano Carnival, as the season is ushered in with a colourful parade of costumes, music and dancing, demonstrating the flights of imagination that have inspired the themes of the fancy dress. Traditionally they are based on Cayman’s wonderful marine environment, reminiscent of forms like regal mantra rays or anenomes, dancing flowers and swimming stingrays, while more recently contemporary issues such as the millenium bug, drug abuse or the world’s refugee crisis have all been ingeniously interpreted in a way that has inspired the amazing outfits. Local bands playing island music fill the streets during this celebration of life, the heritage of the islands and the beauty of nature. The roots of the festival lie in the turtling past of the island, and the name, ‘Batabano’, of the tracks which are left by turtles when they drag themselves onto the beach to nest in the sand.
For the keen angler, the Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament in late April offers generous prizes for record-breaking Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin or Blue Marlin catches, including categories of lady and junior anglers and boat captains among others. Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands' International Sevens rugby competition, at the Truman Bodden International Sports Stadium in George Town, is a highlight of the international rugby sevens circuit and attracts teams from around the world during June. If not on land or sea, then watch the spectacle that unfolds in the air during the Aviation Week, as the skies buzz with 100 or so small planes which participate in the ‘Cayman Caravan’ Air Show along Seven Mile Beach. This event coincides with the Queen’s Birthday celebrations: a full military dress parade, a 21-gun salute and an Open House and Garden Reception at the Government House.
The popular Pirates Week festival is held during the last week of October, and heralds the beginning of the winter tourist season. Like many of the Caribbean nations, the Cayman Islands have a colourful seafaring past which is celebrated with pride during this unique national event. Anyone without a costume will be challenged: come prepared for days and nights of pirate parades, costume contests, music, fireworks, sports competitions and local craft. Not to be missed is the week's kick-off - a dramatic reenacted pirate landing featuring bands of rowdy pirates who boldly arrest the Governor in George Town Harbour, followed by a float parade of colourful costumes and local steel drum bands. In the evening all roads are closed in George Town as the whole Island parties the night away, dancing under the stars to local and guest bands, and enjoying the great food on offer.