While some may wish to simply check in to relax at one of the luxury all-inclusive resorts along the incredible white sand beaches of Negril or Montego Bay, others flock to Jamaica especially to join in some the Caribbean's most happening musical and cultural festivals. Jamaicans love to celebrate. They are also proud of their cultural heritage and the wonderful ethnic diversity that exists on the island. Put these together and you find a number of events that are a celebration of moments in time which shaped Jamaican history: take, for example, the Accompong Maroon Festival, celebrated by the Maroons. Each year on January 6th, the birthday of Captain Cudjoe who defeated the English army, and the descendents of the slaves brought to Jamaica to work on the sugar plantations are celebrated by a feast involving the roasting of black, male pigs of which every mouthful is supposed to bring you luck. Along with traditional dancing and singing and the blowing of the Abeng horn, the year begins with a burst of excitement. Soon afterwards, during the week before Easter, Jamaica hosts its Carnival as the celebrations spread throughout the entire island in one great party. Again, the streets are alive with music and dancing and awe-inspiring costumes. Away from street parties, the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is usually held early in the year. This amazing festival features a diverse range of musical traditions but pulls all their influences toward the blues and jazz lover. From African to Cuban and reggae, this festival gives a great international flavour to the age-old tradition of jazz and blues.
All year round, the new Sabina Park stadium in Kingston is the venue for great cricket. May brings the Calabash Literary Festival, highly regarded and unique in the English-speaking Caribbean, with three days' of readings, story-telling and the occasional beach party.
The summer season is packed with entertainment of all kinds. Jamaica's International Reggae Day, usually held in July, provides would-be stars with a fantastic opportunity to do some jammin' during an event that is based on the idea of a musical talent show which climaxes with a final concert, televised throughout the world. In August, the Reggae Sumfest has a programme of superb artists performing over a period of a week, and along with its rival event, the Reggae Sunsplash, has crowds from all over the island descending on Montego Bay and the Richmond Estate in order to enjoy some music, food, sun and sea.
As the autumn season draws in, the Jamaican Coffee Festival, held in Kingston, has Java lovers on a caffeine high as farmers and merchants provide visitors with free samples of a wide array of coffees, hot beverages and local foods in a celebration of the rich agricultural tradition of Jamaica. More culinary delights as well as traditional dancing and cultural activities are on offer as the Heritage Fest pays homage to all of the diverse ethnicities found on the island, from Indian and Lebanese to Chinese and Latin American. Jamaica is also home to two of the largest fishing tournaments that take place in September and October each year. The Falmouth Blue Marlin Tournament is popular, while the Port Antonio Tournament is one of the most prestigious in the Caribbean.
Christmas in Jamaica is celebrated with parades commemorating the island's West African and slave heritage: Jonkanoo is an occasion you are not likely to forget as the locals turn on the party atmosphere and the spectacle goes on through the small hours of the night.