Guide to Brooklyn's West Indian Labor Day Parade

A Vibrant Community Celebrates Island Heritage in Dance, Music, Food, Carnivale

 Brooklyn's an ​epicenter of Caribbean-American life.

You can eat at mom-and-pop West Indian restaurants. Or, shop at stores selling foods and items from the Caribbean. You can listen to Afro-Carib music at clubs and concerts. 

Over 600,000 New Yorkers are of West Indian heritage, according to census figures, and Brooklyn boasts many neighborhoods with large Caribbean populations.

So, if you want to participate in a Caribbean-style carnival, or go to a celebration of West Indian culture, where to go? 

As you countdown until the festivities during the week before Labor Day, culminating with the famed parade on Labor Day, you can fill up your summer, enjoying these fun activities. From dining on authentic Caribbean cuisine to museum exhibits. 

Here's the scoop on the parade and other activities you can enjoy this summer. Here are five ways to celebrate West Indian American culture in Brooklyn.

2016: September 1st-5th. Parade on Labor Day, September 5, 2016


Edited by Alison Lowenstein

  • 01 of 05
    ••• Photo © ultraclay

    The Caribbean American Labor Day Parade (also sometimes called the West Indian or Caribbean Labor Day Parade)  is a major New York City event. Preceded by days of pre-events, including a viewing of the steel drums usually held at the Brooklyn Museum,  the actual parade itself is held on Labor Day Monday. It takes place on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. This year the parade celebrates it's 49th year, come join them in the festivities. 

    This colorful parade, complete with costumed marchers wearing extravagant feathered head dresses, floats, marching bands, steel band music, vendors selling roti and other local street food, live performers up and down Eastern Parkway, and more, has drawn up to  two million visitors. 

    The parade starts at day break and lasts hours. Check out the parade route, so you won't miss this unique and lively parade, that is apart of NYC's history and is a must-see on Labor Day.

  • 02 of 05
    ••• Huge pink feather costume at Junior Carnival for Caribbean Carnival in Brooklyn in late August. Photo by E. Freudenheim

    Although the parade is one day, the celebrations take place over a five day period. With activities at the Brooklyn Museum grounds to family friendly events, the line up is still in the works, so be sure to check out the site for the West Indian Day Carnival Association to see what is planned for this year. Enjoy steel drum music, art shows and other cultural events before the day long parade. 

  • 03 of 05

    Family Day on July 23rd

    West Indian Day Family Day

    WIADCA, the same folks that run the West Indian Parade, will host Family Day on July 23rd from noon to 7 pm at Ronald McNair Park. Lots of games and fun for adults and kids! The family day event takes place noon to seven pm, and families can enjoy music, and kids will enjoy face painting and craft projects. This is a great activity to enjoy this summer. 

  • 04 of 05

    See some Caribbean Art at the Valentine Museum of Art

    Valentine Museum of Art
    ••• Valentine Museum of Art, Facebook

    If you thought Coney Island only housed an amusement park and a beach, think again. This stretch of Brooklyn is also home to a new museum. The Valentine Museum of Art on Flatbush Avenue, housed in the Philip Howard Apartments has exhibits from notable Caribbean artists including Hugh Bell. The museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 12–6 pm. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Grab an authentic Caribbean Meal

    Islands Brooklyn
    ••• Lori L, Yelp

    Looking for tasty roti and jerk chicken? Then head to The Islands located near the Brooklyn Museum. The Islands is a Jamaican restaurant that serves up some of the most flavorful Caribbean food in the city. Folks make the pilgrimage to this beloved restaurant on Washington Street. If you are a vegetarian, Islands has many veggie options. Islands is just blocks from the West Indian day parade route. 

    Other local favorite Caribbean restaurants include Sugarcane in Park Slope, Gloria's Caribbean Cuisine in Crown Heights, and Peppa's Jerk Chicken on Flatbush Avenue