Food, drums and dance in one festival

For such a small place, Carriacou sure has a lot of culture. Officially a part of Grenada, the “land of reefs” is just 33 square kilometers in size and home to just about 8.000 people. But not only does it have one of the most unique and distinctive carnivals in the Caribbean, Shakespeare Mas, it now has a remarkable international music festival, too. The Carriacou Maroon and String Band Music Festival was founded in 2010 to boost the island’s international profile by spotlighting its distinctive Maroon cultural traditions, most notably its famed string bands. (Carriacou’s traditional Parang Festival, held the weekend before Christmas, climaxes with a string band competition).

Maroon culture is about thanksgiving and prayers to the source of all life, production and prosperity. Its African origins are authentically depicted through the drumming, singing, eating of smoke food and other rituals practiced in the unique Carriacou way by its people. The term Maroon is traced to the Spanish word cimarrón meaning “fugitive” or “runaway” and applied to escaped slaves with who took to living in the mountains. Slaves often escaped  within the first generation of their arrival from Africa.

In their hideouts, the Maroons preserved African languages, much of their culture and religion. They also retained the knowledge of medicinal herbs and practice of drumming and dancing when the herbs were administered. The first part of The Carriacou Maroon & String Band Music Festival features maroon traditions through the sharing and eating of smoked foods and the spirit of unity  expressed through drums, songs and dance. Honoring Maroon customs continue the second day at the Belair Park Heritage Village with  big drum nation dances, quadrille dancing, Shakespeare Mas, drumming and dance groups from such places as Suriname and Venezuela. This is followed by a two-hour concert of string band music from Carriacou’s popular musicians and bands from other Caribbean.

Third and final day of The Carriacou Maroon & String Band Music Festival, held at Paradise Island, continues with string band music concerts and a varied menu of local dishes including fresh seafood. Sample the taste of this traditional smoked food, enjoy performances from various Caribbean islands and come out with the family for an evening of fun, games and pure entertainment. Move to the vibrations of the heavy drumming and groove to the sweet sounds of string band music from Carriacou’s popular musicians. Come enjoy string bands, smoked food, drums and dance. Three days, three venues, but one festival.

Carriacou (pronounced: Carry-a-koo), is the second largest of the 3 island state of Grenada which includes Petite Martinique. It’s located north of Grenada in the Caribbean. It’s an English speaking island with a rich cultural heritage. The original Amerindians inhabited the island before the Europeans, namely the British and French who colonized the island during slavery in the 1700’s. The name Carriacou is taken from the Amerindian name for the island “Kayryouacou” which means island of reefs. Carriacou is known for its boat-building brought to the island by the Scottish and the island continues to uphold that tradition. Carriacou natives are affectionately known as “kayaks”. During the 1960’s many native Carriacouans came over to the UK to work for a better life for themselves and their families.

From Grenada, Carriacou is a simple ferry ride or short flight away. During your stay at Laluna Resort, whether you choose to go for the whole 3-day weekend or just a day of the festival, the Laluna concierge can help you decide on the best travel plan for your itinerary.

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