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The Caribbean Festival of Arts



Arguably the premier event for visual and performing arts in the Caribbean region is CARIFESTA, the Caribbean Festival of Arts.  This regional spectacle attracts artists mainly from the 15 member states of the Caribbean regional economic group CARICOM, as well as other countries that share the Caribbean Sea.

The first Caribbean festival of arts took place in Puerto Rico in 1952, which became a catalyst for staging similar regional events in later years. It was in 1972 that the festival of visual and performing arts hosted by the Guyanese government came to be called CARIFESTA.  

That year CARICOM member states adopted CARIFESTA as one of its institutions.  CARIFESTA first aims to establish and celebrate the arts as the most important dynamic force for reflection on the region’s dreams and visions, in the process of self-affirmation of the Caribbean personality. https://caricom.org/history-of-carifesta/

In 1976 Jamaica hosted the festival as a CARICOM member state.  For Jamaicans, a Caribbean festival of arts was a rare opportunity to experience the rich diversity of Caribbean culture and artistic expressions.  At that time travel within the region was expensive, consequently relatively few Jamaicans were familiar with Caribbean artists, except a few who had airtime on local radio stations.

 During the last week of July ’76 CARIFESTA exposed Jamaicans and visitors to music, dance, theatre, literature and film from Antigua, Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Mexico, Monserrat, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago and The Virgin Islands.  

It was an exciting time as CARIFESTA gave all who participated a tangible sense of connection and identity with the region.  Few regional events bring together Caribbean people to celebrate their diversity within a common history and contemporary realities. This sense of connection through CARIFESTA has persisted through the years, confirmed by participants at the 2019 CARIFESTA Grand Market in Trinidad and Tobago https://2019.carifesta.net/

Fourteen festivals have been held since the start of Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in 1972. Staged across the Caribbean, hosted by Guyana (1972 & 2008), Cuba (1971), Jamaica (1976), Barbados (1981 & 2017), Trinidad and Tobago (1992, 1995 & 2019), St. Kitts and Nevis (2000), Haiti (2015) and Surinam (2003, 2013).  This year CARIFESTA was scheduled to take place in Antigua and Barbuda for the first time.  Sadly, due to the global COVID pandemic CARIFESTA is rescheduled to August 11-22, 2022.  Should this event take place, it is not to be missed.


For more information on CARICOM and CARIFESTA visit these links:



Also visit our gallery for contemporary Jamaican/Caribbean fine art:


April 2021