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Trinidad & Tobago: 'Island of Festivals'

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“If you ever go down Trinidad
They make you feel so very glad
Calypso sing and make up rhyme
Guarantee you one real good fine time.”

From the World War II-era song, “Rum and Coca Cola”

Attention festival lovers: The folks on the southeast Caribbean island nation of Trinidad & Tobago – perhaps best known for its spectacular Carnival and its peppy calypso, steel drum, limbo and soca music -- want you to know they’ve got a whole lot of fun fests coming up this summer. Some examples: Jazz Week (June 23-28), the Tobago Heritage Festival (July 16-Aug. 1), Emancipation Day (Aug. 1) and the Santa Rosa Carib Festival (Aug. 25-31).

Local officials point point out: “Trinidad & Tobago may be one nation, but the history of each island has taken different twists and turns. Originally claimed by English adventurers, Tobago changed hands a number of times and eventually joined Trinidad as a British Crown Colony in 1889. The Tobago Heritage Festival celebrates traditions that are largely African with events and dances in villages throughout the island.”

Among highlights of the festival is the traditional “Ole Time Wedding,” held in the Tobagoan village of Moriah. This mock marriage ceremony – wryly depicting the influences of European culture on the local population -- features a procession of the satin-garbed bride and top-hatted groom while guests dance in the streets. The fetes begin in early July and climax in a big party on Emancipation Day (Aug. 1), a national holiday marking the day in 1838 when slavery was finally abolished throughout the British Empire in the Caribbean.

The Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village in Trinidad’s Port of Spain is the center of the Emancipation celebration including a joyful street parade and dancing to the sound of African drums and chants.

The Santa Rosa Carib Festival takes place on Trinidad during the week leading up to Independence Day (Aug. 31) and features activities spotlighting the culture and traditions of the pre-Columbian First Peoples of the New World. Among top events is the crowning of the Carib Queen, an elder matron of the community.

More info: Visit the websites of Trinidad and Tobago and Tobago.

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