CARNIVAL: Early March, plus…
Between the bands, beauties, costumes, rum, and accents, Guadeloupe’s Carnival is a blast. The party officially begins the weekend before Ash Wednesday, but the buildup starts weeks in advance with outdoor rehearsals in Pointe-à-Pitre. Besides processions, Carnival features music, dance, beauty, and costume contests, and in late-March it pops up again for mid-Lent Thursday.
MORNE-A-L’EAU CRAB FESTIVAL: March
A moveable feast, because not only do food stands serve up crabs prepared according to Guadeloupean recipes, but the lucky crustaceans who aren’t scheduled for the hot pot run races. There’s music and dancing, too; after all, this is Guadeloupe.
FISH FESTIVAL IN ST-FRANCOIS: April
This fest features fishing contests, surfboard races, and (of course) sublime fish dishes and live gotta-dance music.
TERRE DE BLUES FESTIVAL: May
This 4-day music and food event on the island of Marie-Galante spotlights Caribbean blues masters and other performers who are so good that you can’t help but wonder why on earth they aren’t all stars in the States.
ROUND GUADELOUPE RACE: August
This multi-leg race features traditional, hand-made sailing/fishing boats that have two oddly shaped sails and are just 17 ft. long, with wooden hulls and masts. Even if your clients sail a 72-ft. yacht, they’ll be transfixed by the skills of these Guadeloupean seamen.
FESTIVAL OF WOMEN COOKS (FETE DES CUISINIERES): August
Arguably the sweetest festival of all, the Fête des Cuisinières celebrates a nearly century-old association of elderly women who are Creole cuisine’s keepers of the flame. After a church service, there’s a procession to a banquet prepared by the Cuisinières, and visitors can buy tickets to the feast.
GWADLOUP FESTIVAL: November
Grande-Terre’s grand Caribbean music binge, with zouk, the biguine, soca, salsa, calypso, reggae, jazz, and food that’s as spicy as the musicians.
CHANTE NWEL: The four weekends of Advent and Christmas Eve
In almost every town, from villages to Pointe-à-Pitre, carolers with a gift for harmony gather to sing Guadeloupean Christmas songs that combine reverence with rhythm.