English, Spanish, French, Dutch... plus too many creoles to name.
Best Time to Visit
With over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean characterized by a tropical climate, mid-December to April is the peak season for many travellers who jet in to the region for a welcome respite from cold winters. Word of warning: if the high prices don't put you off, fighting with hordes of tourists might. In May, however, the crowds magically disappear. This is probably the best time to visit as the Caribbean continues to have great weather without the need to make plans too far ahead. Carpe diem, as they say! Hurricane season sets in from June and lasts till November; it is best to avoid planning a trip especially in September and October, with rampant hurricane activity being most pronounced in these two months.
What to Pack
Keep it light and breezy. With temperatures averaging 81˚F or so all year round, dress for the tropics but keep it classy. Don't forget sunblock and swimsuits if you are headed for the beach. In case of sudden rain, a compact umbrella doesn't hurt, either. Also pack comfortable walking shoes — your feet will thank you. Tip: Leave the camouflage or military-style clothing behind. In some parts of the Caribbean, such as the Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad, Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, camouflage attire is an illegal offence.
Carifesta (Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts) is one of the largest artistic and cultural events within the region. The gathering of Caribbean artists across disciplines such as dance, music, literature and visual art was first established in 1972 in Guyana. It has since been held on an ad hoc basis by hosts who successfully bid for it. In 2015, Carifesta XII will run from August 21-30 in four Haitian cities, including its capital Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Gonaives and Le Cap (Cap Haitien).
Closely associated with the Caribbean is the upbeat music genre of reggae. While Jamaica has a rich music heritage that extends beyond the rhythmic reggae to other genres such as Jamaican folk, rocksteady and ska, it is after all home to legendary musician Bob Marley, the poster child of reggae. While Jamaica hosts a number of reggae festivals every year, the mid-July Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay is the one to watch out for as it is the nation's largest summer concert extravaganza.
Cuba has a longstanding history of visual arts. The Havana Biennial is a hotly-anticipated art affair that takes place every two years, though it has been plagued by funding woes in recent times. Founded in 1984, the art event started out representing only artists from the Caribbean and Latin America; the effects of globalization can only speed up with the ease of tensions between Cuba and the United States.
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