Festivals & events in Tobago

Tobago Carnival Regatta

Previously known as the Angostura Yachting World Regatta, it might not be the biggest Caribbean race week, but it's certainly the best. Held in mid-February, the event features four days of yacht racing in four classes - racing, cruising, charter and liveaboard. A Regatta Village is set up in the gardens of the Crown Point Beach Resort at Store Bay and there are various organised (and unorganised) parties, games and other events.

Carib Great Race

The annual Great Race is an exciting power boat race that starts in Carenage in Trinidad and ends at Store Bay in Tobago. Boats of different classes compete in different classes. Some average more than 90 mph on the 85 mile crossing. The event is held in early September.


An explosion of colour, music, revelry, and creativity, Trinidad & Tobago's Carnival has spawned similar celebrations around the world; but nothing on earth can rival the abandon, euphoria and stunning spectacle of the islands’ biggest festival.

More than steelpan, masqueraders and calypso, Tobago's Carnival celebrations embrace many of the island's traditions. Speech bands, whip wielding devils called jab jabs (from French diable), bottle and spoon bands and African drumming are incorporated into the island's celebrations.

The two day climax of pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations kick off between 4 and 5 am on Carnival Monday with J'Ouvert (French patois for opening of day). J'Ouvert revellers covered in mud, men dressed as women or costumed in nightgowns and waving chamber pots, party till daylight on the streets of Scarborough, Tobago's capital. From around noon on Carnival Monday to late Carnival Tuesday, Scarborough belongs to the revellers of masquerade bands - largely comprised of women in revealing feathered and sequined costumes.

In the weeks prior to Carnival, Tobago also hosts cultural events. There are calypso competitions, where the island's calypsonians compete to be crowned Calypso Monarch. Calypso tents showcasing the island's singing talents spring up and steelbands compete for a chance win the title of Tobago Panorama Champions.

Emancipation Day

Goat Races at Buccoo Celebrated on August 1 to mark the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1838. There are church services, street processions, an Emancipation Village and special entertainment.

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Goat races

Traditionally held at Buccoo over the Easter weekend, this race can be hilarious to watch, which should not take away from the seriousness with which they are taken by the participants, those betting and most locals on the Easter Monday.

Great Fete Weekend

Great Fete Weekend is an annual beach party at Pigeon Point Beach Resort and other popular locations in Tobago. The event attract local DJs and Soca and Dancehall stars from Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands. The party was born out of the celebrations surrounding the annual power boat racing event.

Harvest Festivals

The Harvest Festivals recognise the importance of food in Tobagonian tradition and are community feasts held in different parts of the island throughout the year. Villagers invite friends, family and strangers to their homes to share Thanksgiving meals. The festivities start with a church service and end with a cantata by the village choir.

Tobago Jazz Experience

The Tobago Jazz Experience (TJE) 2014 is a celebration of jazz, along with the indigenous music of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. Staying true to its promise of offering “much more than music” however, the Tobago Jazz Experience incorporates the cultural and historical practices that define the island of Tobago as an ideal destination.

Visitors can indulge in the gastronomic experience that is the authentic dirt oven bread indigenous to the village of Castara; take a walk off the beaten path into the Main Ridge Reserve; immerse themselves in cultural treats such as the goat races at the Buccoo Integrated Facility; or take in a history lesson during a tour of Fort King George Heritage Park - all the while, interacting with a warm and welcoming people notorious for their vintage brand of hospitality.

Tobago Heritage Festival

Tobagonians are very proud of their culture and history. The Tobago Heritage Festival occurs every year from the middle of July to early August. Villagers from different communities comes out in their glory to perform with folk singing, dancing and feasting. The villagers dress up in traditional costumes that depict village life from the early 1900's. During the year each community has its own festival. Each village has different events which range from 'ole time mas, 'ole time dance, old time wedding, limbo and jig to stick fighting. Further information: tobagoheritagefestival.com

Responsible Travel would like to thank Visit Tobago for their sponsorship of this guide.
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Tobago Tourism Agency] [Tobago Carnival Regatta: Tobago Tourism Agency] [Carnival: Tobago Tourism Agency] [Goat races: Tobago Tourism Agency] [Tobago Jazz Experience: Tobago Tourism Agency]