What better reason do you need to spend some time in the tropically luxuriant beauty of St Kitts and Nevis than to relax and enjoy the delightful surroundings of these still quiet and relatively untouched islands? It could be the calendar of events, which for St Kitts and Nevis features a blend of cultural, sporting, heritage and other special occasions that take place throughout the year, at the national as well as the community level. If you are looking, for example, for some true Caribbean style entertainment, you will see that same peace shattered at the end of the year as the St Kitts Carnival celebrates local culture with a feast of live calypso music, street parties, a carnival queen pageant and numerous children’s events. The party spirit builds up in an 18-day crescendo as Christmas approaches, when the major highlight is ‘J’ouvert Morning’, where revellers dance in the street to the pulsating beat of the steel bands, brass bands and hi-fi sets from dawn on December 26th until the last band stops playing. Falling within the Carnival period are the colourful celebrations of Old Year’s Ball on New Year’s Eve, and the Night of the Stars on New Year’s Day itself, with street jamming, parades, bands and folklore events taking place throughout the streets of St Kitts. Look out for the amazing masquerade dance groups, especially the children’s troupes. The Moko Jumbies on their stilts keep alive an ancient West African religious tradition as they tower over the dancing throngs that fill the streets.
Along with the great party that is happening throughout the islands, New Year’s Day is also celebrated at the Indian Castle Race Track which is the site of monthly race meetings but which on this day comes alive with music and sporting fun. Its coastal setting makes it one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque race courses, and thoroughbreds from all over the Caribbean compete as the spectators watch on the sidelines and tuck into delicious barbecued grub. The race track plays host again to an avid crowd of enthusiasts who delight in donning their most ostentatious clothes for the occasion when the time comes for the Easter Sunday Horse Racing. The sport is a huge passion on the island, which makes for an electric atmosphere always accompanied by wonderful food and entertainment.
The Nevis community gets together at Easter time for the annual Good Friday Kite-flying Contest, having created their beautiful kites at the kite-making workshop during the previous weeks. The site for the event is the Flats of Cole Hill, where everyone involved gathers to test their creations and even win the prize for, say, the best kite, the highest flyer or the one with the longest tail. Many locals make it a family occasion and show up with a crowd of relatives and a large picnic hamper or two.
Another sporting event to take place on the island, and its main athletic event, is the St Kitts International Triathlon held in May. The event revolves around a swim in South Frigate Bay, a ride along the scenic Southeast Peninsula and a run along the Frigate Bay area. Both local and international competitors are involved, and the top athletes can make the result count towards world rankings, the event being ITU sanctioned. Nevis, too, holds an annual Olympic Triathlon. Ususally held in March, it attracts competitors from Caribbean nations and beyond, to take part in several sporting events such as a thrilling 1500m swim, 40km cycling race, and 10km run.
Away from the sporting arena, but still held in the Warner Park Stadium, the St Kitts Music Festival is among the most popular of its kind in the Caribbean. Here in the past it has been possible to see great line-ups including among many others Ashanti, DMX and Shaggy alongside exciting and emerging local artists. The sounds know no bounds, as the variety of musical genres represented is enormous, from calypso to reggae, jazz to pop, soul to funk. Every year the festival brings thousands of tourists and nationals living abroad to the Fort Thomas Hotel for four nights of superb musical entertainment and dancing.