Top Image: Tobago Heritage Festival. Photo: Tobago Media Concepts
During the lead-up to Emancipation Day, Tobago is abuzz with excitement. It’s time for the Tobago Heritage Festival! For two weeks, villages square-up against village in friendly competition. Who hosts the best events? Who draws the biggest crowd? And most importantly, whose chefs have the “sweetest hand”? There’s only one way to find out. Indulge in the sweet and spicy local delicacies and witness recreations of ‘long-time’ village life. The rhythms and traditions handed down through generations make the allure of the island irresistible.
Moriah Old-Time Wedding
Return to a time when gents wore top hat and tails and damsels carried parasols in gloved hands while the lacy hems of their gowns fluttered in the breeze. Accompany the ‘bride’, decked out in her glory, as she makes her way through the streets of Moriah to meet her ‘groom’. She’s serenaded by traditional musicians on flutes, fiddles and drums. Join in the fun and learn to dance the ‘reel and jig’, then enjoy a ‘wedding feast’.
Black Rock Sea Festival
Many in Tobago have livelihoods that are linked to the sea, moreso at Black Rock Sea Festival. It’s all hands on the net as the “seine” is pulled in, loaded with silvery fish. Enjoy the aroma of fish being cooked on the beach. You won’t go away hungry.
Dancing the Cocoa
Say it with us: we love chocolate! Trinidad and Tobago grows some of the best cocoa in the world. Witness it being prepared the traditional way—by dancing on the bean. It’s all part of Charlotteville National Treasures Day. Taste the sweet white pith of the cocoa bean, but leave room for the “blue food” (“ground provisions” such as yams, dasheen, cassava and sweet potatoes) that’s sure to be on sale. See how women laundered clothes in the river, or enjoy the unbelievably refreshing taste of sugar cane juice pressed fresh in a “batty mill”.
Ole Time Carnival and Heritage Calypso Monarch
Missed Carnival? Not to worry. Dab on some body paint—or mud, if you dare—and kick off the celebrations with the Plymouth J’Ouvert. It’s followed by a street parade of ‘pretty’ and traditional Mas’. There’s also the popular battle for the Calypso Monarch title.
Other events you don’t want to miss:
Games We Used to Play: Set your inner kid free at the Mason Hall Recreation Ground. You never really forget how to jump rope, pitch marbles or play hopscotch.
Buccoo Goat and Crab Race
Pick your favourite and place your bets. The competition is keen and the action doesn’t stop until the last runner crosses the line.
Folk Tales and Superstitions
Our oral tradition is rich and some stories will give you goosebumps.
Read the events calendar carefully, because there are so many more. You can learn to bake bread in a clay oven, squeeze sugar cane in a “batty mill” and admire graceful Bele dancers in motion. It all culminates in one huge celebration on Emancipation Day, August 1st.
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