Music festivals in the Caribbean are as varied as the islands that host them.
From the Love City Country Music Festival presented on St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the classical and opera selections showcased at Barbados’ Holders Season, Caribbean festivals are enhanced by their respective islands’ natural attributes, which typically include lush mountains and trade wind-cooled, pristine beaches.
With Ja Rule/Billy McFarland’s ill-fated Fyre Festival on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma making headlines for all the wrong reasons, here’s a look at seven music festivals held in the Caribbean that get it right, year after year.
According to Billboard, these are the top 7 best Caribbean music festivals to date!
Inaugurated in 1993 when its forerunner, Reggae Sunsplash, vacated Montego Bay, Reggae Sumfest celebrates 25 years of presenting the biggest names in Jamaican reggae and dancehall with an expanded seven-night program this year.
Highlights include Sumfest Blitz, a ’90s-themed dancehall bash honoring Kingston’s legendary sound system dances, and Sumfest Heavyweight Clash, with top selectors battling for musical supremacy.
The final two nights, July 21-22, held at Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex (an open air field with food, craft and drink vendors) are marathon-length concerts beginning at 9 pm and ending after 7 the following morning.
This year’s lineup includes Jamaican dancehall superstar Sean Paul, American-Jamaican R&B/hip-hop artist Sean Kingston, Canadian R&B singer Torey Lanez and Nigerian dancehall luminary Patoranking, veteran Jamaican deejays Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, dancehall’s latest sensation Alkaline, and Sizzla Kalongi, who’ll bring Sumfest 2017 to a blistering conclusion. Warning: headliners often hit the stage after 2 am so plan (your sleep) accordingly and bring a folding chair or a blanket.
“An authentic reggae experience where the music was born, lives and breathes can only be had in Jamaica,” contends Joseph Bogdanovich, CEO of (Jamaica’s) Downsound Entertainment who acquired Reggae Sumfest in 2016 from its founders, Summerfest Productions.