Now there's a definite chill in the air and the days are getting even shorter, if you're anything like us you'll be dreaming of some winter sun. If your holiday plans involve a trip to the Caribbean this season then no doubt you'll have beaches on the brain, but there's a lot more going on - much of it on the water instead of on the shore. Grenada-bound visitors especially have much to look forward to in the next few months...
Carriacou Parang Festival
Every year since 1977, the Parang Festival has taken place on the tiny island dependency of Carriacou on the weekend before Christmas, with the aim of reviving and maintaining the dying tradition of "house to house" serenading of hosanna carol singing and string bands.
Children and the older population are the main focus on the Friday and Saturday nights with Santa in attendance handing out goodies, and old-fashioned carols performed by junior and senior singing groups. Things get serious on the Sunday night, with the much anticipated Parang String Bands Meléé competition, featuring bands from different villages throughout Carriacou, Petit Martinique and Grenada who must first perform a compulsory carol, followed by a composition of their choosing. Each band comprises eight members dressed in brightly coloured costumes who play a combination of melodious percussion instruments, creating a joyful sound and uplifting atmosphere.
Carriacou Parang Festival, 16th - 18th December 2011
Grenada Sailing Festival
The Caribbean regatta festival season kicks off with the Grenada Sailing Festival from 27th to 31st January 2012. Headquartered at the new Port Louis Marina, the four-day festival is an internationally-famous event which welcomes sailing captains and crews from across the region for some exhilarating yacht racing from the southern and eastern coasts of Grenada.
With some of the most challenging sailing waters in the Caribbean, this is a festival many well-known racers are keen to take part in, including 2011 winner Peter Morris and his Jaguar yacht. But there is much more to the sailing festival than on-water action - those without sea legs can still make the most of the warm and friendly island hospitality at the many happy hours and BBQs on the dockside and after-race parties at Port Louis Marina's own restaurant, the Victory Bar.
Grenada Sailing Festival, 27th - 31st January 2011
Grenada Independence Day
February 7th 2012 marks the 38th anniversary of Grenada's independence from the United Kingdom in 1974. The red, green and gold-bedecked islanders mark the event every year with ever more imaginative costumes, parades, colourful street parties, folk dancing and free concerts, while local bars fill the airwaves with soca and calypso music and Grenadian nationals passionately display their love for their country.
Independence Day, 7th February 2011
Work Boat Regatta
Part of the Southern Caribbean Regatta season and the Grenada Sailing Festival above, the celebrations extend to a second weekend for a popular Work Boat Regatta from Grand Anse Beach. The Digicel Workboat Regatta is staged as part of Grenada's Independence festivities and visitors will get to enjoy two days of hugely competitive sailing between local communities, accompanied by steel pan and traditional drumming performances, beach barbeques, pounding reggae and plenty of free-flowing booze.
These open boats, traditionally used for fishing, are temperamental to say the least but this only adds to the competition and sense of fun. Crossing the finishing line is not the half of it - a winner is only declared after he's run up the beach to the drink shack and knocked back a shot of neat rum.
Grenada Work Boat Regatta, 3rd - 5th February 2011
Virgin Atlantic operate flights to many different destinations in the Caribbean from London Gatwick, including Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia, Tobago, Jamaica, Cuba and Grenada.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.