Jump Up to Find the Real Culture of the Caribbean

Street vendor preparing jerk chicken

Matt Spurr/CC by 2.0

Feeling trapped on your resort, but not sure where to go to experience the “real” culture of the island you are visiting? Ask where the local “jump up” or street party is taking place. 

What’s a jump up? Also known on some islands as a “fete” or “lime,” a jump up is fundamentally a street party with music, dancing, and food and drink vendors. Each island takes a slightly different approach to the jump up: some are family friendly, while others definitely skew to adults only. Some take place only on special occasions, while others are weekly events. But all tend to attract a good mix of locals and visitors alike, making a jump up an excellent way to get a taste of real island food, drink, music and culture.

The typical jump up will start off as a more family friendly affair in the early evening, becoming more of an adult gathering as the night wears on. Partying til dawn is a not-uncommon experience if you can keep your energy up all night!

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The Friday Night Jump Up in Gros Islet, St. Lucia is One of the Best

Photo © Lii/Wikimedia Commons

One of the Caribbean’s best-known jump ups is on St. Lucia, where the town of Gros Islet hosts a big street party every Friday night. Spread over several blocks of this normally sleepy fishing village, the jump up is known for its loud music, street dancing, vendors selling barbecued chicken and conch dishes, and bars that stay open til the wee hours.

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Sunday School is Open on Buccoo Beach in Tobago!

© Trinidad and Tobago Tourism

On Tobago, the weekly lime is called Sunday School in Buccoo and features steel pan music, limbo performers, craft and food stalls, and free-flowing rum drinks on the beach.

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St. Croix's Jump Ups are Family Friendly Street Fairs

© Bob Curley

St. Croix jump ups take place less frequently — perhaps four times a year — and are more akin to a street fair than a dance party: this is a family friendly event that sprawls over several city blocks in Christiansted and features performances by stilt-walking moko jumbies and more snack stands than beer vendors. 

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The Party Never Stops at St. Lawrence Gap in Barbados

© Barbados Tourism Authority

St. Lawrence Gap in Barbados is one of the few places in the Caribbean where you’ll find a street-party atmosphere pretty much any night of the week. No matter whether you call it a jump up, lime, or street party, joining the locals on a festive night out is an unforgettable part of any trip to a Caribbean -- and sure beats nursing a pina colada at the hotel bar.

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