Good Vibes – 3 Fantastic Jamaican Festivals

For many visitors, Jamaica can be summed up by sun, sea and sand ̶ with a splash of rum punch thrown in for good measure

But this proud island nation also punches way above its weight in terms of history and culture, has a global footprint thanks to its diverse indigenous music and boasts several notable creatives in the fields of literature, visual arts and filmmaking.

Jamaica celebrates its culture with a packed and eclectic events calendar that welcomes visitors from around the world all year round.

To get a feel for the good vibes on offer, here are three fantastic Jamaican festivals you should check out in 2021!

1. Accompong Maroon Festival

Jamaican Maroons are descendants of runaway slaves who fought a successful guerrilla war against British imperial forces in the late 18th Century, winning a semi-autonomous status that exists to this day. For a real off the beaten track adventure, hire a car from Enjoy Travel and head into the St Elizabeth hills for this inspirational festival held at Maroon stronghold Accompong each January. You’ll enjoy traditional drumming, storytelling, dancing, a thumping soundsystem and some delicious jerk pork! Accompong is a unique time capsule where an undefeated rebel army has, against all odds, managed to preserve many traditions possibly lost to its African homeland, so it’s a real privilege to experience these celebrations.

2. Rebel Salute

Held annually in mid-January in verdant Grizzly’s Cove in St Ann (the parish where Bob Marley was born and spent his childhood) Rebel Salute was set up in 1994 by veteran dancehall artist Tony Rebel and has gone from strength to strength since, attracting top performers like Bounty Killer, Mr Vegas and Chronixx. This is a Rasta-inspired and run event, so there’s no meat or alcohol permitted, although there are lots of delicious plant-based foods and herbal concoctions to sample. If you love rootsy reggae music and want to unwind all the way in awe-inspiring natural surroundings, this gathering will be right up your street.

3. Calabash International Literary Festival

As one of the world’s most lyrical nations, you probably won’t be surprised that Jamaica has produced some outstanding literary talents over the years, including renowned poet Lorna Goodison, Harlem Renaissance figurehead Claude McKay, and novelist Andrew Salkey. The Calabash International Literary Festival is held around May every two years at Jakes Hotel  ̶  an idyllic, intimate beachside spot at Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth where you can listen to presentations from figures like Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith during the day and share a cold Red Stripe beer with them around the camp fire in the evening ̶ bliss.

Experience any of these three fantastic Jamaican festivals and you’re sure to fall in love with this stunning island and its talented people.

When travelling in Jamaica, keep your eyes and your heart open and you’ll have the time of your life.