Caribbean festivals can be experienced around the world. From the tropics to the US, Canada, and the UK, each festival is filled with cultural celebrations. Some festivals and events are larger than others, but all have a similar purpose; to remember, honor and celebrate Caribbean culture, heritage, and traditions. The best part of these exciting and fun events is that traveling to them is cheap. International flights will get you there and you probably won’t have to travel far to experience one for yourself. All you have to do is find the Caribbean festival closest to you!

Here are five annual carnivals and parades that you can attend.

Notting Hill Carnival — London

Notting Hill Carnival, London

Image via Flickr – (CC by 2.0)Charlie Marshall

Since 1966, the Caribbean community in London has taken the streets by storm for a cultural celebration that’s highly entertaining. Notting Hill Carnival has become Europe’s largest street festival, having hosting over 1 million visitors in 2018. Attendees will enjoy parades, live reggae music, exotic street food (like callaloo, a popular Caribbean vegetable dish, and deliciously seasoned jerk chicken), incredible costumes, and endless dancing through the streets! There’s fun for the entire family as the carnival hosts a Children’s Day along with a parade. Plus, Notting Hill itself is filled with restaurants, bars, and shops so you’ll never get bored.

Notting Hill Carnival usually takes place in August

Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana)

Since 1967, North America’s largest street festival is held each summer in Toronto. The event is commonly called Caribana but it’s also referred to as Toronto Caribbean Carnival. The city expects to see over 1 million visitors from around the world in attendance. Similar to Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, this festival includes dancing, music, and brightly decorated costumes. The intent of the festival is to celebrate Caribbean culture and traditions with people of different ethnic backgrounds. Caribana is a long-running festival from early July to mid-August. The Grand Parade, King & Queen Showcase, and Beyond the Mas are just a few of the events that take place during the long four weeks of the Caribbean celebration. Check with Toronto Caribbean Carnival for all the details about Caribana!

Toronto Caribbean Carnival takes place in July and August

Want to attend a Caribbean festival this year? Grab cheap international flights to get there! 

West Indian Day Parade — Brooklyn, NY

Carnival parade man dressed in Carnival costume

Part of New York City’s greatness comes from the diverse and rich cultures of both residents and tourists from all around the globe. Throughout the year, you can find a parade or event celebrating a number of different cultural backgrounds. The annual Labor Day Parade began in the 1930s in Harlem and has continued to bring together both local New Yorkers and visitors to celebrate Caribbean culture. The parade, now known as the West Indian Day Parade, takes place in Brooklyn and it’s a day of fun for everyone. If you plan to attend this year or in the future, expect to join the celebration by throwing powdered paint, tasting traditional Caribbean foods, dancing to live reggae music, and of course, watching the parade participants march through the streets dressed in traditional costumes with elaborate floats and props.

The West Indian Day Parade takes place on Labor Day annually

Barbados Crop Over Festival

It’s a tradition in Barbados that began in 1687, recognizing the end of the sugar cane season. Although the celebration isn’t called a “carnival”, it’s very similar in almost every way. Crop Over is a 3-month-long festival with endless parties, tasty Caribbean foods, Barbadian music, art markets, parades, dancing, tons of culture, and more! The biggest and most exciting day of the festival on Barbados is Grand Kadooment Day, the last day of Cropover. The closing day is filled with lively entertainment from masquerade bands, revelers dressed in amazing costumes decked with feathers and jewels, and non-stop dancing! Music icon, Rihanna who was born and raised in Barbados,has been among the participants along with other celebs.

Crop Over usually takes place from early summer to August.  

RELATED: How Well Do You Know Your Caribbean-American Heritage & History? Take This Quiz and Find Out!

Bayou Bacchanal — New Orleans

Woman dressed in costume for Caribbean festivals

NOLA is already known for its lively nightlife and music scene, especially when Mardi Gras rolls around. But in regard to Caribbean festivals, Bayou Bacchanal is the original Caribbean carnival of New Orleans. The festival is hosted by Friends of Culture, annually bringing together the city’s Caribbean community members along with other volunteers eager to celebrate Caribbean heritage. Just as the other carnival festivals mentioned, there are Caribbean dishes served such as curry goat and jerk chicken, performances by well-known Caribbean artists, and dances in traditional costumes. Bayou Bacchanal is different from other carnivals because the festival kicks off in the evening and attendees are encouraged to dress in all-white attire with flags of their Caribbean countries. The following day is for the parade and festival where you’ll find lively crowds dancing and celebrating Caribbean heritage.

Bayou Bacchanal usually takes place in November  

Have you ever attended a Caribbean festival? Tell us all about it in the comments below! 

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About The Author

Shannon Durso

If she’s not searching for the world's coolest destinations she has yet to explore, you can find her writing content at Fareportal or maybe even drooling over a foodies latest post. Shannon’s a Brooklyn native who enjoys good company, new adventures, and a great laugh!