Have Your Conch and Eat It, Too: The Top Food Festivals in the Caribbean

  • 01 of 09

    Celebrate the Taste of the Islands with These Tasty Culinary Celebrations!

    © Trinidad Development Co.

    Across the Caribbean, seafood reigns supreme in local fare. However, with varied cultural backgrounds and regional preferences, different islands lay claim to different flavors and speciality cuisines, making these local food festivals events that any hungry visitor is going to want to take a bite of! 

     

     

     

     

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  • 02 of 09

    Portland Jerk Festival, Jamaica

    © Jamaica Tourist Board

    Everybody loves jerks -- jerk spices, that is. 

    At the Portland Jerk Festival in Jamaica, the traditional Caribbean spice blend known as “jerk” is the star of the show, with cuisine including Jerk Chicken, Jerk Conch, Jerk Sausage, Jerk Pork, and Jerk Lobster, just to name a few. 

    But what is jerk, exactly? A spice mix native to Jamaica, jerk seasoning is made up of two key ingredients: allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers, a variety of chili pepper found mainly in the Caribbean. 

    At the Portland Jerk Festival, this Jamaican favorite is the center of attention, with a variety of jerk-spiced meats being served up alongside other island favorites like rice, breadfruit and yams. 

    Featuring food, music, and fun, and taking place annually in July, the Portland Jerk Festival is a great event for everyone – just as long as you leave the jerk to the eating.

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  • 03 of 09

    The St. Croix Food and Wine Experience

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    © J.Price Photo

    St. Croix sometimes gets overlooked in favor of its sister islands, St. John and St. Thomas, but the more distant of the U.S. Virgin Islands has become a remarkable hotbed of culinary talent. Those local kitchen skills are on full display at the annual St. Croix Food and Wine Experience, a week-long series of culinary events including private dinners, cooking demonstrations, and a weekend food festival, with proceeds partly going to local charities.

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  • 04 of 09

    Conch Festival, Turks and Caicos

    © KimCarpenterNJ via Flickr

    Home to the world’s only commercial Conch farm, Turks and Caicos is proud of its long history of cultivating, harvesting, and cooking up these super-shelled seafriends. The annual Conch Festival in Providenciales is a tribute of sorts to their mollusk-hearty culture, and features food, music, and a healthy dose of competition, with categories including Best Conch Chowder, Best Conch Chowder, and Best Speciality Conch Dish. 

    Hosted in late November each year, this festival is a huge attraction for visitors, not just because of its tasty cuisine, but for its party atmosphere and sweet local vibes.

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  • 05 of 09

    Caribbean Wine and Food Festival, Turks and Caicos

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    © Caribbean Food and Wine Festival

    Also a popular crowd-drawer for Caribbean fare and local fun in Turks and Caicos is the Caribbean Wine and Food Festival, a relative newcomer on the Caribbean festival scene, but one that is quickly picking up speed. Occurring annually in November on Provo, this island festival welcomes chefs, food connoisseurs, and wine experts alike to cook, eat, and celebrate the foods and wines of the Caribbean. Featuring a variety of events from private dinners to local street fare, the Caribbean Wine and Food Festival is a 2-day “culinary extravaganza” that food lovers won’t want to miss!

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  • 06 of 09

    Trelawny Yam Festival, Jamaica

    © M Brubeck via Flikr

    Not a fish fan? Fear not! The Trelawny Yam Festival in Jamaica might just be the Caribbean food fest for you. 

    Drawing in more than 10,000 attendees a year, this five-day event centers on yams (or sweet potatoes, for those of us in the States), and is far from your garden-variety festival. While it does focus much of its attentions on yam-centered dishes and contests for the best yam cuisine, the Trelawny Yam Festival also honors a yam king and queen, displays giant yams for visitors to admire, and offers fun, yam-themed games for young festival-goers. 

    Taking place around April each year, there’s really only one thing to say about this uber, tuber event: it’s a yam good time!

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  • 07 of 09

    St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival, St. Lucia

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    © Bob Curley

    What’s a food festival without a little drinking? At the St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival, you don’t have to find out! 

    Occurring at the end of October each year, this St. Lucia event features cooking demos, lectures by accomplished chefs, dinners, local fare, and tastings of more than 40 different rums from across the Caribbean. 

    This four-day event takes place at the Rodney Bay Village in northwest St. Lucia and works to promote St. Lucian cuisine, Caribbean gastronomy, and of course, the supremacy of Caribbean rum.

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  • 08 of 09

    Saborea!, Puerto Rico

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    Photo © Vanessa Query

    Hosted at Escambron Beach each year, this massive food festival in Puerto Rico features expert international and local chefs alike in a 3-day event with one distinct purpose: to celebrate top-notch food and drink from around the world. Featuring culinary personalities, top chefs, and of course, local fare, this festival, which includes competitions, lectures, tastings, and full, sit-down meals is not one to be missed by anyone who appreciates the luxury of wine and dine. 

    Occurring annually in April, Saborea! is a celebration of culinary expertise and exceptional cuisine, all taking place on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico amidst bright island culture and a welcoming local vibe.

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  • 09 of 09

    San Pedro Lobsterfest, Belize

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    © NOAA via Flickr

    As host of an 8-day festival devoted to celebrating delicious lobster cuisine, Belize may have unofficially earned itself the title of “Crustacean nation.” 

    The San Pedro Lobsterfest, which takes place in June each year, marks the beginning of “lobster season” in Belize – an event that is clearly a cause for celebration! Featuring lobster-catching competitions, a vast variety of local cuisine with lobster at its center, and festival favorites including local music, crafts, and the crowning of the Lobster King and Queen, the San Pedro Lobsterfest is an event worth putting your claws – er, hands– together for.