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Jamaica Travel Guide

Jamaica — Festivals and Events

The Jamaicans jump at any excuse to celebrate and the calendar is loaded with parties and events embracing the Caribbean culture and its people. Bob Marley Week and the Jamaica Carnival are a must-see for visitors, which both take place in winter.

Bob Marley Week

The legendary Jamaican reggae singer is commemorated for a week in early February. The event spans his would-be birthday, February 6, and includes concerts and talks about the famous Rastafarian. All Bob Marley attractions liven up at this time, including the Bob Marley Museum, Kingston (his former home) and the Bob Marley Mausoleum in Ocho Rios, his birthplace.

Jamaica Carnival

The biggest event of the year shows off Jamaican culture in all its glory, with street parades, soca, calypso music and dancing. The multi-day festival in mid-February takes place all over, but with the main street parade is in Kingston. See ladies on the beach for the Beach Jouvert and the Road March for the finale.

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival

The biggest jazz event of the year takes place in Ocho Rios over eight days in mid-June. Venues all over the resort town come alive with the sounds of the Jimmy Smith Trio, and the streets are bathed with dancing, food and barbecues galore.

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day on August 1 is a good time to see parties and locals enjoying themselves. It marks the day when Queen Victoria proclaimed British Empire slaves free in 1838. Expect lots of flag-waving, dressing up, and dancing throughout Jamaica.

Independence Day

Jamaica celebrates its independence from Britain, which came on August 6, 1962. The colors of the Jamaican flag—green, black, and gold—are always noticeable here, but none more so than on this day. All towns and resorts put on parties with lots of dancing and eating.

Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament

Jamaica is a major fishing destination and the Marlin Tournament in late September has been drawing anglers for decades. Guests can enter online and compete for the Trophy from the Jamaica Tourist Board. At the same time is the Port Antonio Local Canoe Tournament.

Africa Jamfest

Arty types will love the Africa Jamfest, which showcases art, music and fashion at Montego Bay, Kingston and other destinations in Jamaica in October.

Reggae Marathon

The sound of reggae accompany the Reggae Marathon in Negril in late November or early December. It’s a fun event that includes a half marathon (13.1 miles) or 10 k (six-mile) run along the beautiful coast in the west. There’s a party at the end with lots of opportunity to swill Red Stripe beer.

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