keepitjiggy.com http://keepitjiggy.com Travel Jamaica | Jamaica Vacations, Reggae, Jerk Sat, 18 Apr 2015 06:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.3 Lineup | Tips for the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015http://keepitjiggy.com/2015/01/lineup-jamaica-jazz-and-blues-festival-2015/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2015/01/lineup-jamaica-jazz-and-blues-festival-2015/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 21:54:07 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=23891   Enjoying the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 201 […]

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Enjoying the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015

This year's 19th staging of the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival is happening on the three evenings of January 29 to January 31, 2015. Are you ready for some great music?

This "Premier Music Festival in the Caribbean" always gathers the world's most talented entertainers to celebrate all genres of music in Jamaica in January. It attracts tens of thousands of fans from Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean, the USA and Europe. The 2015 staging will once again honor this musical diversity, and we've prepared a short guide to help you get the most enjoyment from it!

Who Will Be On Stage in 2015?

The Festival usually features 20 to 25 live acts performing over the 3 days. Here's a list of some of the awesome performers who are confirmed so far:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

jamaica-jazz-and-blues-festival-2015-lineupReggae/Soca Night with Tribute to John Holt

  • George Nooks - Jamaican singer of lover's rock reggae and gospel. Often compared to Dennis Brown. Winner of 3 Tamika Reggae Music awards.
  • Lloyd Parks & We the People Band - Jamaican reggae vocalist & bass guitar player. Regulars at Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest. Once backed Dennis Brown on tour.
  • Judy Mowatt - Jamaican reggae artist; part of the "I Threes", backing vocalists for Bob Marley & The Wailers. Nominated for a Grammy Award. Awarded Jamaican Order of Distinction (OD).
  • Oscar B - The 'Sweet Voice' from Tobago offers a unique blend of reggae, soca and Ska. Former frontman for Byron Lee & The Dragonaires.
  • Josey Wales - Jamaican deejay from St. Mary. One of dancehall's founding fathers. Known as 'The Outlaw' and 'The Colonel'.
  • Errol Dunkley - Jamaican reggae vocalist. Breakthrough UK Singles Chart hit in 1979 with "OK Fred", a cover of a John Holt-penned song.
  • Cornell Campbell - Jamaican reggae singer and hitmaker for many years; best known for his trademark sweet falsetto voice.
  • The Tamlins - Carlton Smith, Junior Moore, and Derrick Lara are among the most widely respected backup singers in reggae, especially for touring in support of Peter Tosh and John Holt.

Friday, January 30, 2015

jamaica-jazz-and-blues-festival-2015-lineup

  • Mariah Carey - “Songbird Supreme” appears for her first ever Caribbean performance! Has sold 200+ million records & won 5 Grammy awards, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
  • Morgan Heritage - Known as one of reggae's best bands with mellow, R&B-influenced vocals and Rastafarian lyrics.
  • Richie Stephens - Jamaican R&B, reggae and reggae fusion singer-songwriter. Once part of Grammy-winning Soul II Soul which recorded at Motown.
  • Arturo Tappin - Smooth jazz and jazz/reggae saxophonist from Barbados. Performed for past U.S. President Bill Clinton and twice for Fidel Castro and President Barack Obama.
  • Silver Birds Steel Orchestra - From Kingston, Silver Birds was voted Jamaica’s top performing band for the year 2009 by the country’s largest radio and television conglomerate, RJR Group.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

  • The Pointer Sisters - American R&B girl group with repertoire including nearly every genre of music. 3 Grammy Awards, inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • Charlie Wilson - American R&B soul icon brings all of his love to Jamaica for the first time. 'Uncle Charlie' has been nominated for 9 Grammy awards and was named Billboard magazine's No. 1 Adult R&B Artist.
  • Peter Cetera - American love balladeer who gained his reputation while singing lead for Chicago. Solo hits such as 'After All', 'Stay with Me', and 'You’re My Inspiration'. Has scored 6 Top-40 singles.
  • SOJA - Globe-trotting American reggae band based in Washington. This is its first ever Jamaica performance. Their 2012 album 'Strength to Survive' topped the Billboard Reggae Album Chart.
  • Magic! - Canadian reggae fusion band behind the hit single ‘Rude’. Sound distills Caribbean flavor & glistening melodies with a fun, soulful and easy vibe.

Looks like the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015 is going to have some great vibes!

 

How to Get Tickets

Tickets to the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015 are available now for online purchase. The prices quoted below are in US Dollars. Get them early. Ticket sales at Bill Express will close January 24, and online sales will close at midnight on January 26. After that, you will have to find them at other locations islandwide.

General Admission:

Thursday - $80
Friday - $120
Saturday - $80
Friday & Saturday - $190
All 3 Nights - $270

General Admission grants you access to the general areas of the venue which has no assigned seating or standing areas. This area is occupied on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 8 are free.

VIP Admission:

Thursday - $120
Friday - $220
Saturday - $120
Friday & Saturday - $330
All 3 Nights - $450

VIP admission grants you access to the general areas plus an area close to the stage. Unreserved seating is provided. This area is occupied on a first-come basis and is limited to the number of seats available. Children under 8 are free.

VIP Parking

Available to "weekend" (Fri/Sat) and "season" (all 3 nights) ticket holders only. Cost is $20.

 

What Time Do the Shows Start?

Gates open at 4 PM and Main Stage show time is generally 6 PM. It's important to go early to get the best parking and best spot (especially if you have general admission tickets). The show usually ends by 1:00AM.

 

Getting to the Venue

jamaica jazz & blues festival 2015 greenfield stadiumThe three-day Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015 will be held at Trelawny Stadium (formerly known as Greenfield Stadium) in Duncan’s, Trelawny, which is just outside of Falmouth. It features amazing views of the coastline of Jamaica, excellent parking facilities, security, comfortable amenities and plenty of room to completely relax, dance, and enjoy the great music.

Trelawny Stadium is about a 10-minute drive from Falmouth, a 30-minute drive from either Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, about 1 & 3/4 hours from Negril, and about 2 & 3/4 hours from Kingston or Port Antonio. Driving to the event is generally easy because the roads on the North Coast are in good condition.

If you would rather not drive, there is scheduled shuttle service provided by Knutsford Express from Kingston, Ocho Rios and Negril. Buy your tickets online to get there in comfort! There will also be Park & Ride Shuttle service (details soon come).

Trelawny Stadium Jamaica

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

 

Helpful Tips for Enjoying the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015

  1. Don't forget your tickets. And you'll need some cash if you want to buy food and/or drinks. (I can't tell you how many times I've found broken ATM machines at music festivals!)
  2. Stay warm. You'll be outdoors all evening, and Trelawny can get quite cool at night. Dress accordingly and bring a shawl, sweater or something that will keep you warm.
  3. Keep your feet happy and wear comfortable shoes! Greenfield Stadium is a large venue. You'll want to be comfortable when walking from the parking lot and standing around listening to music (there's usually more than one stage). Also consider packing an extra pair of socks to keep your feet warm.
  4. If you're carrying a handbag, choose one you can carry over your shoulder to keep your hands free and one that's large enough to keep keys and things from getting lost.
  5. Pop a few of those handy pocket-size tissue packs in your handbag or backpack so you won't have any unpleasant surprises after you've stood in line to use the festival bathroom facilities just to find out there's no tissue left! A pack of baby wipes can also come in handy.
  6. Bring a collapsible umbrella or pick up a cheap rain poncho that can stay in your bag till you need it. The weather in Jamaica can change frequently, and you never know when you may get a rain shower. You'll be happy you came prepared!
  7. Don't forget a camera, or at least a smartphone with a camera, so you can capture the awesome performances of your favorite artists and share them with jealous friends. Just don't bring any big, fancy still camera equipment, and no video equipment or recording will be allowed.
  8. If you're alone, make friends. Music is only half of the fun. If you make new friends, you'll double your enjoyment.

 

Where to Stay Nearby

Whether you plan to attend the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival for just one evening or for the entire weekend, you may want a place to stay. The official festival hotels are Half Moon, Holiday Inn Sunspree, Toby Resorts and El Greco. Here are a few places that are nearby the venue. Also check our pages for other places to stay in Trelawny, Saint James (MoBay) and Saint Ann (Ocho Rios).

Jamaica Jewel Guest House; Duncans - 1 (876) 954-2352
Pineapple Villas, Duncans - 1 (603) 431-4029
Silver Sands Villas and Beach Resort; Duncans - 1 (876) 954-2001
Royal Reef Jamaica, Greenwood (Trelawny) - 1 (876) 953.1700
Retreat Guesthouse Luxury Suites, Falmouth - 1 (876) 954-9858
Royalton White Sands Montego Bay, Falmouth - 1-855-744-8371
Half Moon, Rose Hall, Montego Bay - 1 (888) 830-5974
El Greco Resort, Montego Bay - 1 (876) 940-6116
Toby's Resort, Montego Bay - 1 (876) 952-4370 & 1 (876) 952-6636
Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay, Montego Bay - 1 (888) 465 4329
Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Hotel, Montego Bay - 1-866-276-6393 (US)
Hilton Rose Hall Resort, Montego Bay - 1-800-997-5148
Gran Bahia Principe, Runaway Bay - 1-866-282-2442
Franklyn D. Resort, Runaway Bay - 1-876-973-4124

 

A Little Background

Nearly two decades ago, Air Jamaica's then-vice-president, Allen Chastenet, set out on a mission to attract more tourists to Jamaica during "soft" periods in the Fall of each year. With the help of producer Walter Elmore and others, he staged an outdoor music festival in November 1996 on the grounds of the historic Rose Hall Great House. The first show attracted an enthusiastic audience of 1,500, and the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Music Festival was born.

In 1998, the Festival moved to James Bond Beach in Oracabessa for a period of five years, generally being staged in October or November. But heavy rains often caused performances to be shortened or cancelled altogether. The decision was made beginning in 2000 to reschedule the popular event to the month of January, making it the kick-off event for the Jamaican entertainment season.

The venue has also changed from time to time, moving from James Bond Beach to Cinnamon Hill Golf Course in Montego Bay from 2001 to 2005. Thanks to international acclaim, attendance grew to more than 35,000 and, from 2006 to 2008, the Festival's new home became the Aqueduct at Rose Hall.

Air Jamaica relinquished the title in 2009 and the Jamaica Tourist Board became the new sponsor of the renamed Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. The event also got a new home at the Greenfield Stadium (now Trelawny Stadium) in Falmouth, Trelawny, which has won unanimous approval from patrons.

 

Festival Contact Information

To get more information about the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2015, check out these links:

Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival Official Website
On Twitter @JamaicaJazz; hashtag #JaJazz
On Facebook
On Instagram

Have a great time!!

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Jamaican Christmas a Come! | Grand Market, Cake, Sorrel, Jonkunnuhttp://keepitjiggy.com/2014/12/jamaican-christmas-grand-market-cake-sorrel/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/12/jamaican-christmas-grand-market-cake-sorrel/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=23508     Jamaican Christmas Traditions What I enjo […]

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Jamaican Christmas Traditions

What I enjoy most about Christmas - in Jamaica and at home - are the unique traditions in our cultures and histories that make us who we are, and that celebrate the things the season represents - family, faith, community, generosity and love. Jamaican Christmas traditions celebrate all of these things, but you'll have to look beyond the obvious!

If you're visiting Jamaica during the holidays, you'll probably find that today's Jamaican Christmas is nearly as commercialized as Christmas in the U.S., Canada and Europe. If you manage to escape from the all-inclusive resorts, however, don't expect to see as many Christmas lights, artificial snow, trees and other decorations as you might see at home. But be ready to eat, drink and be merry!

Jamaicans are predominately Christians, so the Christmas holidays are special. Many Jamaican Christmas traditions have British colonial influences, as well as African, Indian, Spanish, and other cultural influences that have given the nation its rich diversity. Some traditions, like Jonkonnu, have faded, but you may still see a performance here and there.

Here are a few a few things to look for and a little about the history/origins of each.

(Click on the numbered sections at the bottom to continue. You will see this introduction on every page, so please scroll down the page to keep reading!)

I wish you a Happy Jamaican Christmas!



Jamaican Grand Market Night

On Christmas Eve (December 24th), Jamaicans look forward to "Gran Market," which may be the most important day of their Christmas season. It's a day-and-night affair, and often the festivities go on until the wee hours of Christmas morning.

Grand Market can trace its origins to slavery. Historians tell us that slaves were given few days off from work, and Christmas Eve was one of them. They would dress up in their nicest clothes, meet up with friends in a central place, and sing, dance, play drums and socialize until morning. It was also an opportunity for some of them to sell their homemade crafts, such as woven baskets, straw hats and brooms.

jamaica-going-to-market

Vintage Jamaican postcard - Going to Market with Yams * Canes - Constant Spring Road

Jump to the 20th century, to the days before trucks and buses were commonplace, and imagine the colorful sight of vendors from the country carrying their fruits, vegetables and flowers to sell at Gran' Market. Bottle torches lit up the darkness of Christmas Eve morning as they moved along with "bankra" (baskets woven from palm leaves) on their heads, filled with fresh bananas, oranges, tangerines, callaloo, okra, scallions, tomatoes and more. Donkeys carried hampers full of "hard food", like potatoes, breadfruit and yams, as well as bundles of red sorrel (more about sorrel below) and, of course, roses, bougainvilla, hibiscus and other colorful flowers.

Although Grand Market has evolved from those days, and you're more likely to see vendors transporting their goods in trucks, it's still a big deal. In many towns, vendors (called "higglers") are allowed to converge on the town or village square where they set up their wares in the road, leaving walkways for shoppers.

Port Antonio Jamaica Grand Market

Beautiful panorama of Christmas Grand Market in Port Antonio, Jamaica from Flickr by Josh Hunter, Creative Commons License/edited from original to remove borders

Grand Market is great fun for children, and may be the only evening in the year that most parents let their children stay out past 9PM. They enjoy seeing all of the toys, games and clothes for sale, the local bands and sound systems, and get to make as much noise as they want! And everyone gets to enjoy the street food - jerk chicken, fry fish, pineapple, sugar cane, jelly water, the peanut vendors and the ice cream man.

When I was at Grand Market in Port Antonio a few years ago, we walked and shopped, and walked and ate, and enjoyed the fun, laughter and friendliness. Even the KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was open until long past midnight!

WHERE TO GO: Enjoy Grand Market celebrations on Christmas Eve in and around Coronation Market (downtown Kingston), Half Way Tree (Kingston), Musgrave Market (Port Antonio, Portland), Browns Town Market (Browns Town, St. Ann), Linstead Market (Linstead, St. Catherine), Old Harbour (St. Catherine), May Pen Market (May Pen, Clarendon), Savanna la Mar Market (Savanna la Mar, Westmoreland), Port Maria Market (Port Maria, St. Mary), on Harbour Lane (Falmouth, Trelawny), at Sam Sharpe Square (Montego Bay, St. James), and various other places around the island. Keep in mind that vehicle traffic is often restricted on this night.

In the joyous spirit of Christmas, do a good deed and find something to buy to support the local vendors! Times are hard, and they count on this income to feed their children and provide a Christmas for their own families.

Jamaican Christmas Cake

In anticipation of the Yuletide season, many Jamaicans will be busy soaking raisins, currants and prunes in Jamaican rum. They will use them to make their traditional Jamaican Christmas Cake, often called Jamaican Black Cake or Jamaican Fruit Cake, in early December.

No Jamaican Christmas season is complete without a Christmas cake and sorrel to drink (see next section). It's customary to have them on hand when guests drop by. Most households closely guard the recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. You should find it everywhere in Jamaica at Christmastime.

jamaican-christmas-cake-recipe

Jamaican Christmas Cake or Jamaican Black Cake

This cake is not only popular in Jamaica, but throughout the English-speaking Caribbean, and has its roots in the region’s British Colonial heritage. It's a descendant of the English Christmas Pudding, or Plum Pudding, and has been a Jamaican favorite for over 300 years.

If you're thinking that you hate fruitcake, this version is nothing like those strange (and usually dry) fruitcakes we Americans joke about, with their neon-colored red and green cherries and other odd ingredients. This one is rich, dark, dense and moist!

Introduced to the West Indies by British planters in the late 1600s, and soaked in liquor to preserve them on sea voyages, the Christmas "pudding" was gradually tweaked by Jamaicans into the dark, spicy, red wine- and rum-soaked version we enjoy today.

The brown sugar, molasses and rum remind us that it was the British colonialists' quest for sugar, and the slave labor that harvested it, that kept them in the islands.

The differences between the British and Jamaican Christmas Cakes are the rum (the British usually used brandy), and the dark coloring of the cake, which comes from Jamaican "browning" (essentially caramelized (nearly burnt) sugar).

The cake is baked just before Christmas and eaten at Christmas dinner and afterward, in thin slices, for as long as it lasts. Just pour on a little more rum whenever the top gets dry, and Christmas Cake can last for months!

People from Trinidad, Guyana, Antigua, St. Lucia, and other Caribbean countries serve this cake at Christmas and on special occasions, and each country puts their unique spin on it.

If you're feeling nostalgic or just want to taste this delicious cake, try our recipe for Jamaican Christmas Cake. It's easier (and far more delicious) than you think! (And you don't HAVE TO start months ahead.) We also tell you how to make a version that's alcohol-free, if that idea interests you. (I'll stick with my Jamaican rum!)


Sorrel Drink

Jamaican-Christmas-Sorrel-Drink

Refreshing Jamaican Christmas Sorrel Drink


Sorrel ("SAH-rell") is the drink of choice for Jamaicans during the Christmas season.

Sorrel is what Jamaicans call the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant. This is not the ornamental Hibiscus, but a different species, related to the okra. If you're in Jamaica between October and January, you will see the freshly harvested sorrel calyxes (or pods) everywhere, ready for Jamaicans to make their beloved Sorrel Drink for the holiday season.

I would describe the flavor of Jamaican sorrel drink as a bit more tart and spicy than cranberry with a hint of raspberry mixed in. Because it's tart, Sorrel Drink needs a lot of sugar to sweeten it, along with some ginger and pimento (allspice) to balance it out and create a delicious drink.

If you've ever had "Red Zinger" tea or Tazo's "Passion" tea, you've already tasted sorrel. It's sorrel that gives the tea its red color and slightly spicy flavor.

Try our Jamaican Sorrel Drink recipe to get you started. Everyone adds their personal touch to their sorrel drink; I love to add cloves and cinnamon but you can add whatever flavors taste good to you. And you don't have to make the drink alcoholic; it's wonderful just as it is when served over ice on a warm day.

Watch the video below for tips:

HOW THE TRADITION STARTED: The sorrel plant originated in ancient times in Western and Northern Africa. Its spread throughout the world can be traced to the Spanish and the slave trade. When they set off to conquer the New World beginning in 1492, they brought sorrel (called "roselle" by the British) to Jamaica.

Over the next few centuries, the Spanish carried Jamaican-grown roselle to Colonial Mexico and throughout Latin America & the Caribbean for trading purposes. The Spaniards called it "flor de Jamaica." As time went on, more sorrel made its way to the colonies with African slaves, along with okra, yams, peanuts, collard greens and a variety of other wonderful plants and spices.

WHERE TO BUY SORREL: In Jamaica, you can buy fresh sorrel from street vendors and in markets throughout the island. The seeds have already been removed, so you will only need to wash it and remove any stray weeds or twigs before you start a batch. You can also find the dried variety but, by all means, fresh is better if you can get it.

If you're not in the Caribbean, you will probably have to settle for dry buds. Look for them at your local Caribbean, African or Mexican markets or in health food stores. You can also order them online from Amazon.com.

Dried Sorrel - 2 pack

So make a batch or two of Jamaican Sorrel Drink to enjoy over the holidays. It's delicious, good for you, and a must for the Jamaican Christmas dinner table!

If you're interested in learning more about sorrel, read our previous post here.

 

Jonkonnu

Jamaican_Jonkonnu

By award-winning Jamaican artist Gaston Tabois – John Canoe in Guanaboa Vale (1962)
Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica

Today, you probably won't see much of this Jamaican Christmas-time tradition which has a history dating back hundreds of years. But Jonkonnu is still an important part of Jamaica’s rich culture, history and tradition, and you may be lucky enough to enjoy a performance by this merry band of masqueraders if you visit Jamaica during the holidays, especially in villages and rural areas.

Jonkonnu, sometimes spelled Jonkunnu, Jonkanoo, Junkanoo, Jankunu, and called John Canoe by the British, seems to be a unique blend of African mime and European folk theater. It originated as an artistic and social outlet for slaves, allowing them to dance, sing, party and satirize their masters and society. Jonkonnu is traditionally performed during the Christmas holidays.

Accompanied by a band composed of fife, drums, shakas and a coconut grater used as a scraper, performers dress in bright, elaborate and colorful costumes. They tell a story as they sing and dance, acting out specific characters.

Because the costumes are often frightening, spectators (especially little children) scream and run off as the performers playfully attackd the crowd with their whips, pitchforks or horns. But it's all done with fun and laughter.

CAST OF CHARACTERS: Mask-wearing men play a variety of parts in a motley cast of comical, and sometimes scary, characters that served as symbols for social commentary, including:

Pitchy Patchy Jamaican Jonkonnu

Jamaican Jonkonnu character - Pitchy-Patchy

Pitchy-Patchy - Covered in tattered strips of colorful cloth, Pitchy-Patchy typically turns cartwheels and circles along his path. He is a clever troublemaker who is said to represent the resourcefulness of the slaves, who used their scarce supplies to create something splendid. The origin of the costume is thought to be African and was probably originally made from layers of straw and palm fronds.

Amerindian (or Wild Indian) - This character wears an elaborate feathered headdress. The performer traditionally wears fringed pants, shirt, and a long, black rope braid attached to the headdress. In modern-day Jamaica, Amerindian's costume is dressed up with mirrors, wrapping paper and cutouts from magazines.

Cow Head - Cow Head has a mask, a tail, and two real horns on his head, usually attached to half of a calabash gourd. He aggressively charges at the spectators to keep them at bay. Cow Head (and a character called Horse Head) are thought to represent power, and they are central characters of any Jonkonnu parade. He moves in bucking motions and is usually bent low to the ground. Cow Head may also be influenced by the popular Rolling Calf legend, the Jamaican version of the boogeyman.

Koo Koo (or Actor Boy) - This character first appeared in Jonkonnu parades in the early 1800s. He wears a European-style tiered skirt and frock coat, but also has an elaborate feathered headdress. The name "koo koo" is said to come from the name of a West African dish, but the character also danced about quoting Shakespeare (thus the name "Actor Boy").

Belly Woman - This character is an enormously pregnant woman with an exaggerated chest and backside. She gyrates in time with the rhythm of the music, showing off her curves. Belly Woman is most likely a representation of fertility, although she is sometimes considered to be portraying a negative image of mulatto women.

House Head - House Head was usually a central Jonkonnu character. He wore a large headdress in the shape of a great house.

Police Man -This Police Man tries to keep spectators in order but, as he tries to enforce the law, he gets caught up in the rhythm of the drums and joins in the merriment. His presence may date back to 1841, when the mayor of Kingston outlawed Jonkonnu parades in the city due to frequent clashes between revelers and the police. (Rural areas were excluded from the ban.)

The Royal Court - No Jonkonnu parade would be complete without the Royal Family, particularly the King and Queen. This was a way for slaves to openly mock the aristocracy and plantocracy without fear of retaliation.

Other common Jonkonnu characters include The Devil (a menacing character dressed in black who taunts onlookers with his pitchfork), Jack In the Green, Houseboat, The Sailor, Bride, Cob Web Cleaner, and Bush Doctor.

Throughout history, costumes varied by area. "Roots" Jonkonnu bands had more rustic costumes, while bands from the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and Hanover were more "fancy."


 

HOW THE TRADITION STARTED: Jonkonnu is often called the Jamaica Slave Dance. Most researchers agree that its origins are African, and that the festival was very important in the lives of enslaved people in several parts of the Americas. But others believe it may be an entirely unique Creole tradition born in the New World from African and European influences.

Historical evidence suggests that Jonkonnu originated in Jamaica during the 1700s. From there, it spread to other English‐speaking colonies where slavery was entrenched, including British Honduras (now known as Belize) and other parts of Central America, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and the Bahamas. It has gone through many changes over the years, and has developed local differences from place to place.

Jamaica's Jonkonnu may have been influenced by several West African festivals: the Mmo yam festival of the Igbo peoples, the Homowo yam festival of the Ga people, or the Yoruba Egungun masquerades.

koo-koo-actor-boy-jamaica-jonkonnu-1838

John Canoe (Jonkonnu, JonKanoo) Costume, Koo Koo (or Actor Boy), Jamaica, 1838; Image Reference Belisario08, as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

In England since Medieval times, masters allowed their servants some freedom during the holidays to blow off steam. It's likely the English planters in Jamaica followd suit, allowing their slaves to sing, dance and eat as they wished, free from work for a short time. Christmas in Jamaica before emancipation was one of the few periods in the year when slaves could enjoy themselves, primarily on Christmas Day, New Years Day and Boxing Day.

Jonkonnu became even more popular when plantation owners started to encourage the festivities by providing money and fabric for costumes to show off the wealth of their estates. As you can see from this old illustration from Kingston, Jamaica in 1838, the costumes were quite different then.

Today, much of the Jonkonnu custom has been lost to time. But Jonkonnu troupes still exist throughout the island, and you may catch a performance during Christmastime, at Easter, and at other special events such as Independence Day, especially in the country.

 

Attend Church in Jamaica

Spanish Town Jamaica Cathedral

The Cathedral of St Jago de la Vega (also known as the Spanish Town Cathedral and St. James Cathedral), is the oldest Cathedral in the Colonial Empire. After the conquest of Jamaica by the British in 1655, the British destroyed the Catholic Church that stood here and replaced it with the Anglican Church. In 1712, the church was destroyed by a hurricane, but rebuilt in 1714, making it 300 years old in 2014. It also has a tower, originally built in 1760 but replaced in 1817. It contains a collection of 18th century John Bacon sculptures.

For many of us around the world, Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day are associated with going to church. After all, we say "Jesus is the reason for the season," right?

By all means, attend a church service in Jamaica if you're in the island during the holidays. God knows, there are plenty of them! (Some say 1,600+!)

At one time, Jamaica may have held the Guinness Book of World Records' title for having more churches per square mile than any other country. I don't know if this is still true, but what I DO know is that there are churches EVERYWHERE in Jamaica.

Even small communities have multiple churches to serve their populations. Windsor Castle in the far western end of Portland Parish has 5 churches within just 1 square mile. Black River in St. Elizabeth Parish has at least 13 churches serving a population of about 5,000!

Sundays are a big deal for most Jamaicans. Many have childhood memories (or nightmares) of their mamas dragging them out of bed at the crack of dawn to bathe, dress up, and start walking to get to church on time, only to sit for hours in the heat through Sunday School, choir practice, scripture readings and more! Men are expected to wear shirts and ties, and ladies dress to the nines, with elaborate hats and their dressiest clothing.

Feel free to attend a church service at Christmas and enjoy a rousing gospel choir, but be sure to dress properly! Most churches will welcome you. It's sometimes easier to talk to the Jamaicans you meet and ask them to direct you. But please don't be the cause of someone losing their job. Most of the all-inclusive resorts prohibit employees from escorting guests off the property - to church or anywhere else.

Here's an interesting article at JamaicaMyWay about Kristi Keller's church experience in Jamaica, and below is her excellent video:

RELIGION IN JAMAICA: Religion is fundamental to the lives of most Jamaicans. You hear references to God (Jah) and the Bible in their everyday speech and in their music. Most are Christians; the largest denominations are the Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Brethren and Roman Catholics. But Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baha'i, and many others are well-represented. If not, you'll likely find Jamaicans erecting a tent for a pop-up service when necessary!

port-antonio-jamaica-parish-church

Christ Church (Port Antonio Parish Church) built in 1836.

Here are a few interesting facts about religion in Jamaica from diGJamaica.com:

  • The Church of England (Anglican) was established in Jamaica seven years after the capture of the island by Admiral Penn and General Venables in 1655. It is the oldest continuous religious presence on the island and has its historic centre at the Cathedral of St Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town.
  • The first church to be built on the island was commissioned by Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego, in St Ann’s Bay in 1510.
  • The Baptist presence in Jamaica began in 1783 when George Liele, a "free black slave" from Atlanta, Georgia, came to preach in Kingston. Sixty-six years and much missionary work later, the Jamaica Baptist Union was founded at Falmouth, Trelawny in 1849.
  • The first Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded in Jamaica on Labour Day, May 26, 1971. The church is, however, a part of one of the oldest extant denominations of Christianity in the world.
  • The Seventh-Day Adventist faith is the biggest denomination in Jamaica, with more than 250,000 members worshiping in more than 650 congregations island-wide.

RELIGION AND SLAVERY: The religion of the slaves was based on African beliefs and practices, such as ceremonial spirit possession, spiritual healing, sorcery, and drumming and dance as forms of worship. Kumina and belief in obeah (sorcery) are living survivors of the African heritage.

The Anglicans (the church of the planter class) played a significant role during the slave period to maintain order on the island and squelch discontent, but they were largely ignored by the slaves. Missionization by Moravians, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians began in 1754. The Baptists were particularly noted for being abolitionists and fueled many of the slave uprisings that eventually led to emancipation in 1834. After emancipation, many former slaves remained Baptists.

For more about slaves and religion in Jamaica, read this fascinating article at Jamaicans.com.

If you don't make it to church in Jamaica at Christmas, or you're just not very religious, please schedule a tour or visit some of the island's beautiful churches on your own. There's so much history and beautiful architecture to enjoy.

Falmouth Parish Church of St Peter the Apostle

Falmouth Parish Church of St Peter the Apostle, built 1795

Aside from Christ Church in Port Antonio (pictured above), here are just a couple of my favorites:

  • St. Mary's Church Lucea, Hanover (Hanover Parish Church), on Fort Charlotte Drive, Lucea - One of Jamaica's oldest churches, St. Mary's was built in the early 1700s. Although no exact date exists, the first baptism record dates back to 1725, the first burial was in 1727, and the first marriage in 1749. It is said that there is a tunnel that leads from the church to nearby Fort Charlotte, which was a safe haven in time of war.
  • St. Andrew Parish Church, Hagley Park Road, Half Way Tree, Kingston - Named after the apostle, Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, the Anglican church was established in 1664, four years after the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish. It settled in its current location in 1700. It's been renovated several times. The cemetery is one of the oldest in continuous use in Jamaica and contains the graves of many prominent Jamaicans.
  • Falmouth Parish Church of St. Peter the Apostle, Duke and King St, Falmouth, Trelawny - Built in 1795, this is the oldest public building in Falmouth and one of the largest Anglican churches in the island. Graves spanning over two hundred years can be found in the churchyard.

Go to church in Jamaica and feel all right!

 

Reggae Christmas Music

reggae-christmas-songs

Make it an IRIE Jamaican Christmas with some classic reggae tunes!

Is one more syrupy rendition of White Christmas about to send you over the edge?

Some people just hate Christmas music; others don't think reggae and Christmas songs belong together. Well, not everyone lives in a winter wonderland. I think Christmas reggae is perfect for those of us who spend the holidays in a warmer climate. And, if it's freezing where you are on this holiday, these tunes will warm you right up!

"There is a long history of Christmas music in Jamaica that stretches back to the earliest days of ska and the sound systems. Since Christmas releases were an important part of the American R&B, blues and country genres that were the foundation of the Kingston sound systems, it was only logical that they would become part of the Jamaican record industry as well. Every year, new releases join the old favorites to become part of the ongoing tradition, but that tradition has stretched considerably over the years. Now we can add boughs of collie, CB400s and natty dreadlocks to the Santa Clauses, Christmas trees and mangers of your typical American/European celebration.

Reggae Christmas music tends to take one of four approaches to the classic material. Some artists adopt a traditional approach and create more or less faithful renditions of familiar songs and others create something new. Some artists use Christmas songs as raw material for social/cultural commentary." [From "A Reggae Christmas" by Lee O'Neill]

For me, there's nothing more fun during Christmastime in Jamaica than hearing reggae versions of traditional Christmas songs sung by my favorite artists, from ska to lover's rock to dancehall. Reggae has the unique ability to be religious without being preachy, corny, or sanctimonious. It can also be wickedly funny!

The 25 tunes I selected may not be the traditional Christmas fare of chestnuts roasting on an open fire that you're used to, but they're upbeat, fun and brilliantly Jamaican.

Be sure to enjoy the rip-roaring ska of Bob Marley & The Wailers singing "Sound the Trumpet" (#17 below). This vintage gem is 50 years old this year! And, although they're not Christmas songs per se, the final two picks, from two of my favorite reggae voices - Buju Banton and Gramps Morgan - are beautiful and fit with the season. We can always use a prayer or two.

We wish you PEACE and LOVE this holiday season!!

 

#1 - Lee "Scratch" Perry & Sandra Robinson -
"Merry Christmas, Happy New Year"


 
Get the MP3: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

 

#2 - Dennis Brown - "Ding Dong Merrily on High"


 
 

#3 - The Jolly Boys - "Long Time Ago In Bethlehem"


 

Get the MP3: Long Time Ago In Bethlehem

 

#4 - The Joe Gibbs Allstars -
"Let Christmas Catch You In A Good Mood"


 
Get the MP3: Let X-Mas Catch You In A Good Mood
 

#5 - Luciano - "Christmas Is Here"


 
 

#6 - Shaggy - "Jamaican Drummer Boy"

Get the MP3: Jamaican Drummer Boy

 

#7 - Maxi Priest - "Merry Christmas Baby"


 
Get the MP3: Merry Christmas Baby

 

#8 - Sanchez - "Christmas In The Air"


 
Get the MP3: Christmas In The Air (dancehall Mix)

 

#9 - Wayne Wonder w/Baby Cham - "Warm Jamaican Christmas"


 
Get the MP3: Warm Jamaican Christmas
 

#10 - Barrington Levy - "I Saw Mommy Kiss A Dreadlocks"


 
Get the MP3: I Saw Mommy Kiss A Dreadlocks

 

#11 - Ini Kamoze - "All I Want for Christmas"


 
Get the MP3: All I Want For Christmas
 

#12 - Lady Saw - "Rich Man For Christmas"


 
Get the MP3: Rich Man For Christmas

 

#13 - Kulcha Knox - "Ho Ho Ho (Never Put A Foot Inna Mi Yard)"


 
Get the MP3: Ho Ho Ho
 

#14 - Yellowman - "Breadfruit Roasting On An Open Fire"


 
Get the MP3: Breadfruit Roasting on a Open Fire (The Christmas Song)

 

#15 - Michigan & Smiley - "Drummer Boy"


 
Get the MP3: Drummer Boy

 

#16 - Alton Ellis & The Lipsticks - "Merry Merry Christmas"


 
Get the MP3: Merry Merry Christmas

 

#17 - The Wailers (Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer) - "Christmas Is Here [aka Sound the Trumpet] (1964)"


 
 

#18 - John Holt - "Blue Christmas"


 
Get the MP3: Blue Christmas

 

#19 - Mighty Diamonds "Frosty The Snowman"


 
Get the MP3: Frosty The Snowman
 

#20 - Beres Hammond - "The Christmas Song"


 
Get the MP3: The Christmas Song
 

#21 - Faith D'Aguilar - Santa Ketch Up (Inna Mango Tree)


 
Get the MP3: Santa Ketch Up (inna Mango Tree)
 

#22 - Kiddus I - "Love Child"


 
Get the MP3: Love Child
 

#23 - Floyd Lloyd Seivright - "Mary's Boy Child"


 
 

#24 - Buju Banton feat. Gramps Morgan - "23rd Psalm"


 
Get the MP3: 23rd Psalm
 

#25 - Gramps Morgan feat. Buju Banton - "Power of Prayer"


 
Get the MP3: Power of Prayer (feat. Buju Banton)
 
If you have other favorite Jamaican Christmas songs, let us know in the comments!

 
 

Boxing Day

boxing-day-jamaica

Boxing Day in Jamaica - December 26, 2014


 

What the heck is Boxing Day? Those of us who live in the U.S. don't have the luxury of relaxing after our Christmas festivities with another holiday, and we're envious. But what is Boxing Day anyway, and how do they observe it in Jamaica?

WHEN IS IT OBSERVED? Boxing Day usually falls on December 26th. If the day falls on a weekend, the following Monday is observed as a public holiday.

WHERE IS IT OBSERVED? Boxing Day has been a national holiday in the U.K., Canada, and Jamaica since 1871. It's also a holiday in other Commonwealth countries, such as Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Belize, South Africa and Uganda, although South Africa renamed it the "Day of Goodwill" in 1994 in an effort to sever ties to its colonial past. In Ireland, Boxing Day is called St. Stephen's Day. A few other European countries, including Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, extend Christmas for an extra day, calling December 26th “Second Christmas Day.”

HOW DID IT BEGIN? No one is exactly sure how Boxing Day got started, but the consensus seems to be that it's another colonial relic with roots in England.

The holiday's roots can be traced to Britain, where Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen's Day. Reduced to the simplest essence, its origins are found in a long-ago practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of the lower classes. Gifts among equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day, but beneficences to those less fortunate (be they tradespeople, employees, servants, serfs, or the generic "poor") were bestowed the day after. [From Snopes.com]

There are lots of other theories, all of which you can read at Snopes.com (see above link), but the bottom line is that Boxing Day seems to have been primarily about preserving class lines. In Jamaica's plantation days, Boxing Day was apparently set aside by planters as a day off for their servants and maids who had to work on Christmas Day.

boxing-day-salesToday in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the day has become a day for shopping for good sales, much like Black Friday is on the day after Thanksgiving in America.

In Jamaica, most people think of Boxing Day as a "second Christmas;" a day they can spend with their families at the beach or a barbecue to continue their Christmas celebrations. Many also use the day to remember people who provided services to them during the year with a special tip or gift, such as the postal delivery person or their household employees.

And many Jamaicans look forward to special events held on Boxing Day, including football games and "Sting," the most anticipated reggae/dancehall festival held each year on Boxing Day in Portmore, St. Catherine.

Enjoy your Boxing Day!


 
 

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Court declares Portland’s Winnifred Beach public!http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/12/court-declares-portlands-winnifred-beach-public/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/12/court-declares-portlands-winnifred-beach-public/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 04:10:54 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=23353   Winnifred Beach in Portland Stays Public! GREAT […]

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Winnifred Beach in Portland Stays Public!

GREAT NEWS! For those of you who've been following the lengthy legal battle over beautiful Winnifred Beach in Portland, Jamaica, to keep it out of the hands of developers and maintain it as a public beach, it looks like justice has finally prevailed!! Please read the Jamaica Observer article below for details about the Court's decision this week.

Winnifred Beach is an authentic Jamaican public beach located on the northeast coast, just east of Port Antonio, on Fairy Hill Bay in the Fairy Hill District. (Some people call it Fairy Hill Beach.) The beach was originally part of the Winnifred Rest Home Properties, where there was a guest house for travelers from the 1950s to the late 1980s. The property was donated to the people of Fairy Hill for their use. However, taxes failed to be paid at some point, and the property was taken over by a Jamaican Government agency, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

winnifred-beach-portland-jamaica

Winnifred Beach (a.k.a. Fairy Hill Beach), Portland, Jamaica


Local residents and tourists alike have enjoyed this pretty beach for decades, for cooking, eating, swimming and chilling out. Winnifred is one of my favorite spots to swim in Portland because the water is calm, clean, sandy-bottomed, extremely clear (as you can see from my photos), and there are plenty of places to enjoy shade if you want (or need!) it. There is also a public changing room and toilet. Frankly, this is by far the best place to swim in Portland.

For the last 7 or 8 years, the UDC has been trying to privatize Winnifred Beach so that the land can be developed with homes, cottages and "recreational facilities." Of course, that translates to fences and a ticket office. Locals who set up cookshops on the beach, fish, sell jewelry,etc., would be ejected in favor of developers. Of course, the government stopped also maintaining the beach facilities, probably to convince the public that a takeover was necessary.

winnifred-beach-portland-jamaica

Winnifred Beach, Portland, Jamaica

Sadly, most of the best beaches in Jamaica have already been sold off to big hotel chains and are off-limits to local residents. I understand that money talks, but it's a sin that Jamaicans can't enjoy the very beaches that make their home an island paradise.

To get to Winnifred, there is a narrow, unmarked "road" down to the beach about halfway between the Blue Lagoon and Boston Bay, just opposite the Jamaica Crest Resort. You can't see the beach from the main road, and you won't easily find the road down to the beach either. Ask a local to point you to the road. It's bumpy and uneven, so you may prefer to take a taxi or leave your car at the top and walk down, but you can drive it without a 4WD vehicle if you take your time.

Except for weekends, you may find the beach nearly deserted. Residents and volunteers in the area take care of Winnifred without being paid but, although there's no charge to access the beach, you may be asked to contribute toward its upkeep. Your Portland hotel or guest house may pack you a picnic lunch if you plan to spend the day, but you'll usually find tasty food being cooked on the beach.

winnifred-beach-portland-jamaica

Winnifred Beach, Portland, Jamaica on a busy weekend day

A coral reef offshore provides for good snorkeling and protects the bay from waves. You'll enjoy crystal clear water and some marine life. Absorb the vibrant community here, particularly on Sundays, get something delicious to eat, and kick back to enjoy the natural beauty. On weekends, there may be people offering horseback rides down the beach or boat trips to Monkey Island.

I hope the successful outcome of this lawsuit encourages other community organizations to fight to keep their beaches open to the public. In my opinion, tourists don't need any more private beach space, or Jamaica's soon going to look like one gigantic walled compound. Keep Winnifred free!
 

Court orders public access to Winnifred Beach

Friday, November 28, 2014

THE Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has been ordered by the court to grant public access to Winnifred Beach in Portland, ending a five-year legal battle between the residents and the entity.

The ruling, which was handed down in the Port Antonio Resident Magistrate's Court in the parish last month by Resident Magistrate Marjorie Moyston, said UDC has 90 days to create a new title an easement for the right of the public to access the beach for bathing and recreation purposes.

Four members of the Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society took the matter to court five years ago, seeking a declaration of the public's absolute and indefeasible right to access the beach.

Continue reading at Court orders public access to Winnifred Beach - News - JamaicaObserver.com.

 

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Portland Jerk Festival now Boston Jerk & Music Festival 2014http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/06/portland-jerk-festival-boston-jerk-music-fest-2014/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/06/portland-jerk-festival-boston-jerk-music-fest-2014/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 05:38:52 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=22468     New Name & Place for the Portland Je […]

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New Name & Place for the Portland Jerk Festival 2014

If you've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting... to find out about the Portland Jerk Festival which would normally take place on the first Sunday in July, we finally have an answer!

The festival's new name is Boston Jerk & Music Festival and the Tropical Lagoon Resort is the new title sponsor. Not only that, but the festival has moved from its location at Folly Oval near Port Antonio, where it has been since 2007, back to its original home in Boston Bay, Portland!

This year's festival will be on Sunday, July 6, 2014, at the Boston Play Field. Gates will open at 10:00 AM. Admission prices are: Adults J$800, Children J$200. After 4pm - J$1,000.

I wish I could be there this year, because two of my favorite artistes - Bushman and George Nooks - are on the line-up!
 
boston-jerk-music-fest-2014

 
The first Boston Jerk Festival was held in 2000 and became an instant hit with patrons across Jamaica. However, in 2007, organizers, saying the festival had "outgrown" Boston, moved the event to the Folly Great House in Port Antonio. The event also changed names to become known as The Portland Jerk Festival.

I was at Folly Oval last July for the Portland Jerk Festival. We enjoyed some delicious jerk pork and chicken, and friends thought the jerk lobster was great, but the weather was SO DAMN HOT. Don't forget your sunscreen, and hydrate yourself while you eat!

Check out the Facebook Event Page.

If you need a place to stay for the weekend, there are plenty of hotels in Portland Jamaica, as well as guesthouses, B&Bs, villas, etc in all price ranges. Great Huts in Boston is offering some great rates for locals and visitors. Check out their Facebook page for details.

Located on the northeast coast of Jamaica and home to the Blue Mountains, the beautiful Blue Lagoon, the most beautiful beach in Jamaica (Frenchman's Cove), and rafting on the Rio Grande River, this part of island is a must see. And you can catch the Boston Jerk Festival while you're at it!
 
 

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SPF Weekend 2014 in Ocho Rios Jamaicahttp://keepitjiggy.com/2014/05/spf-weekend-2014-ocho-rios-jamaica/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/05/spf-weekend-2014-ocho-rios-jamaica/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 20:40:52 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=22073 Details are slow to come out, but the dates for SPF Wee […]

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Details are slow to come out, but the dates for SPF Weekend in Ocho Rios have been confirmed as August 1 through August 4, 2014 (Emancipation Day weekend).

Hosted by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, this series of parties offers top-shelf liquor, superb food, and entertains their sophisticated crowds with a mix of reggae, hip hop, pop, soca, dancehall and electronic music. From a Catamaran Cruise, to Carey Island, to The Pool Party, to oceanfront partying at Mammee Bay Beach Club, to the headline Soiree, SPF usually serves up 5 rocking events over four fun-filled days.

We haven't seen any ticket prices or venue information yet, but usually US$150 to US$200 will buy you 3 or 4 days of back-to-back all-inclusive parties, some of which can hold their own against the best Carnival parties. Of course, your accommodations will be extra.

SPF Weekend 2014 Venue: Jewel Dunn's River Beach Resort

jewel-dunns-river-ocho-riosThere are some room rate specials going on now at Jewel Dunn's River - double occupancy rooms starting at US$320/night (3-night minimum). Limited rooms available. Contact Sharleen Senior at (876) 449-3674 or email sharleen.senior@jewelresorts.com to make your booking.

Call the SPF Concierge at (876) 321-6398 for further information.

If you need a place to stay outside an all-inclusive resort, visit our page on places to stay in Ocho Rios for the best small hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, guesthouses and reasonably-priced villas.

And remember that Smirnoff Dream will be going on in Negril around the same time (August 1-6). Read our post for more details on how to enjoy Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014.

You can follow the announcements at the SPF Weekend 2014 Facebook page, and we will post new details as we get them.

#spfweekend #spf2014

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Enjoy Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 in Negril Jamaica August 1-6http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/05/smirnoff-dream-weekend-2014-negril/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/05/smirnoff-dream-weekend-2014-negril/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 04:41:22 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=21969 Now in its 6th year, the popular Smirnoff Dream Weekend […]

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Now in its 6th year, the popular Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 party series is scheduled for Emancipation/Independence weekend, August 1 to 6, in Negril, Westmoreland, Jamaica.

Partygoers will be treated to an impressive line-up of DJs, artistes and celebrities, with many deejays flying into Jamaica from around the world. This year promises to highlight emerging music trends, such as the electronic dance music (EDM) craze that has grown more popular in Jamaica.

Once again, you have the option to buy a "VIP Season Band" which gives you access to exclusive lounges in each Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 event, exclusive shuttles to take you to the parties from your hotel, exclusive entrances at each event so you can enter hassle-free, top shelf bar and food, and waitress service.

Shuttle buses are provided for everyone from designated parking lots, hotels and major hubs across the town of Negril, because there is NO PARKING on the strip during the weekend.

Getting to Negril

Sangster International Airport is an internati...

Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is one of the largest, busiest and most modern airports in the Caribbean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a variety of ways to get to Negril for Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014. If you are flying into Jamaica, the most convenient airport to Negril is Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay. MBJ is the most popular airport for tourists visiting the north coast of Jamaica. It's about 50 miles southwest to Negril with a drive-time of about 2 hours depending on where in Negril you're headed and the weather and road conditions. You will also have to clear customs and immigration before you leave the airport, and this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours based on how busy they are.

Once you leave the airport, you can take a prearranged hotel transfer/ shuttle, a taxi, shuttle or rental a car. Check out the excellent suggestions at TripAdvisor.com for ways to get from Montego Bay airport to Negril.

You could also land at Norman Manley International Airport (KIN) in Kingston, but be prepared for a good 5 to 6 hour ride or drive to Negril along the south coast of Jamaica. If the weather is bad or you are a "virgin" Jamaica driver, add on a few more hours!

If you have extra money to burn, you can also fly from Montego Bay, Kingston, Ocho Rios or Port Antonio to the Negril Aerodrome. International AirLink and Timair offer scheduled and charter flights. There are also 3 companies that offer helicopter service on the Island. Check the TripAdvisor.com link above for more details.

montego-bay-to-negril-map
 

Jamaica Dream Weekend 2014 Party Schedule

 
Day One - Friday, August 1
Beach Rave – The Electronic Dance Music Party - 2:00PM to 9:00PM
Twisted Spiritz – The Ultimate Mixology Event - 10:00PM to 4:00AM

Day Two - Saturday, August 2
Daydreams White Sands – The All White Party - 2:00PM to 9:00PM
YUSH – The 90s Music Party - 10:00PM to 4:00AM, Wavz Beach, Negril (J$4,000 drink inclusive)

Day 3 - Sunday, August 3
Xtreme Wet & Wild – The Water Party - 2:00PM to 8:00PM; Kool Runnings Water Park, Negril (J$6,500 food and drink inclusive)
Beer Vibez – The Dancehall Event - 10:00PM to 4:00AM, Wonderland, Negril (J$3,500 drink inclusive)
Day 4 - Monday, August 4
Smirnoff X.Clusive – The Celebrity Playground - 2:00PM to 9:00PM, Wavz Beach, Negril (J$5,000 food and drink inclusive)
Miami Dream J’ouvert – The Paint & Soca Party All-Inclusive - 10:00PM to 4:00AM, Wonderland, Negril (J$3,500 drink inclusive)

Day 5 - Tuesday, August 5
Dream Live – Ultimate Dream Concert - 7:00PM to 4:00AM, Cayenne Beach, Negril (J$2,500; food and drinks on sale)

Day 6 - Wednesday, August 6
IGLOO Beach Flex & Lyme – The Original Cooler Party - 4:00PM to 2:00AM, Cayenne Beach, Negril (J$2,000; drinks on sale)
 

How to Get Tickets to Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014

smirnoff-dream-weekend-2014-negril-ticketsThe Dream Team has maintained the same ticket pricing as in 2013, and it's easy to order your tickets to Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 via the Internet. (Note: a service charge will be added.) NOTE: ONLINE TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT.

If you are in Jamaica, you can pay for your online ticket order at any Bill Express location island-wide. Simply follow the instructions at the bottom of the Touchstone Ticketing page.

  • US$250.00 - Regular Season Band with access to all 10 events, drinks at all events except Dream Live Concert & IGLOO, food included at some events, and free shuttle service* to & from all events
  • US$400.00 - VIP Season Band** (while tickets last)
    • **VIP Season Package includes:
    • Gourmet food & drinks at all events except Dream Live Concert & IGLOO
    • Exclusive entrance to all events
    • Exclusive shuttle to & from all events*
    • Exclusive lounge in all events

**Free shuttle transportation for Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 is provided for patrons staying on Norman Manley Boulevard (the Hip Strip). Limited shuttle service available on the West End of Negril.

Upgrades from "regular" to "VIP" can be done at the Redemption Centre or at the door to each event, but are subject to availability and the size of the VIP area at each event. Also, tickets are available for each event, individually, at the Redemption Centre in Negril.

Students with ID’s can purchase season tickets to all 10 parties at a discounted cost of J$18,500. The special price is available only while tickets last and may run until June when they will only be available at the regular price.

TICKET OUTLETS IN JAMAICA :

  • Kool Runnings Water Park - Negril
  • Total Gas Station - Ironshore, Montego Bay
  • Heaven's Texaco - Mandeville
  • Genus Pharmacy - Portmore
  • Ribbiz Acropolis - Kingston
  • Dream Entertainment - Unit 30, Winchester Business Complex, Kingston

Must be 18 or older. ID is required for all ticket purchases.
 

Is there a dress code for Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014?

Each event is different - concert, water party, cooler party, 90s event, mixology, dancehall, rave, all white, etc. Three of the 10 parties have specific dress code themes - Daydreams (all white), Wet n Wild (swim wear), and Smirnoff XClusive (red and white). Otherwise, plan to wear beach or casual attire.

It's easier to come prepared rather than scrambling around Negril looking for something appropriate to wear at the last minute. You can always accessorize or add a little splash of sparkle to dress up your outfit.

And definitely avoid wearing high heels. Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014 parties take place along Negril's 7-mile beach. You will be most comfortable in sandals or whatever you would wear on the beach. Keep your feet happy so that you can enjoy the parties!
 

Where to Stay in Negril

Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many Negril hotels sell out 4 or 5 months in advance of Dream Weekend. If you have not yet booked your reservation, plan to do it soon!

If you are not interested in an all-inclusive resort, be sure to visit our page which lists places to stay in Negril. You will find a great variety of small hotels, guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts, and even a few villas.

Another option is to search for rooms with TRIVAGO, one of our advertisers. Click the simple search bar below to find out the best prices from all around the Web that may still be available for your trip.

Compare the best deals on the Web - all in one place - at Trivago:

 

 

Staying Safe

As with any place in the world we travel, it's important to leave valuables at home or, at the very least, store them in the hotel's safe. In Negril, use only authorized taxis and buses or the Dream Weekend Shuttles. Motorcycle taxis (AKA “Bike taxis”) are not recommended. Also, do not leave personal belongings in your car or they may attract criminals. Security personnel and police officers are on duty 24/7, but it helps if you move in groups/couples where possible, paying close attention to your surroundings.
 

Staying Connected

To get more information about Smirnoff Dream Weekend 2014, check out these links:

Smirnoff Dream Weekend Official Website
On Twitter @JAdreamweekend; hashtag #DreamOrDie
On Facebook
On Instagram
On YouTube

Have a blast!!

If you're interested in the SPF Weekend parties in Ocho Rios going on over Emancipation Day weekend (August 1-4), get more info here.

 

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Help Kristi Spend #60days in Tobago | Tobago Island Connoisseur Contesthttp://keepitjiggy.com/2014/05/tobago-island-connoisseur-contest/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/05/tobago-island-connoisseur-contest/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 23:47:55 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=21902     Greetings readers! I'm way behind on new […]

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Greetings readers! I'm way behind on new posts lately but I have some good stuff coming soon. Until then, maybe you could cast a vote to help my Canadian friend (and fellow Jamaica fanatic), Kristi Keller, in her quest to become the Tobago Island Connoisseur this summer! Voting is super easy, and she needs your help!
 

What's this Tobago Island Connoisseur thing all about?

Tobago’s Division of Tourism & Transportation is hosting a competition for one lucky Canadian to become the next "Tobago Island Connoisseur." This person will showcase the best of Tobago’s hotels, restaurants, natural beauty, culture and friendly people through social media.

The Tobago Island Connoisseur will spend 60 days, from July 2, 2014 to August 30, 2014, getting to know everything humanly possible about the island of Tobago and will use social media to tell us about it. Yes, the promotion is geared toward encouraging more Canadians to visit Tobago, but getting more worldwide travelers to experience the beauty of the greater Caribbean can’t be a bad thing, right?

The competition started in January with more than 200 applicants. It's now down to the final 10 contestants, and Kristi Keller is one of them. The Tobago Island Connoisseur will be chosen soon, and voting ends on May 16, so it's important to get your votes in now.
 

Where the heck is Tobago?

Do you see it there on the map just below Barbados and Grenada and north of Trinidad? (Click the map to enlarge it.) Officially known as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the twin-island country lies just off the northern edge of South America.

Tobago-Island-Connoisseur-Kristi-Keller-map

Tobago is small - about 25 miles long and 6 miles wide. It's lined with picture-postcard beaches, palm tree-lined golf courses, beautiful coral reefs and also has dense rainforest and steep hills. It's particularly known for its extremely warm people and its two-speed lifestyle - slow and slower! The Tobago Island Connoisseur will get to explore and enjoy all that Tobago has to offer... lucky dog.

The island is unspoiled and non-commercialized, earning it several prestigious eco awards, including the World Travel Awards "Best Eco Destination in the World" and the Caribbean Travel Awards Committee "#1 Eco-Destination in the Caribbean". In fact, the Tobago Forest Reserve is the oldest legally protected forest reserve geared specifically towards a conservation purpose (established in 1776).
 

So, who is Kristi Keller?

Those of you who know and love Jamaica may already be familiar with Kristi Keller who is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is an award-winning Jamaica blogger and writer, owner of JamaicaMyWay.com, and a travel agent. She has spent a lot of time in Jamaica (and lived there for some time), and you'll enjoy the many unique Jamaican adventures she's written about over the years!
 

Why would Kristi make the ideal Tobago Island Connoisseur?

I know Kristi personally and can tell you that she:

  • is loaded with a warm, easygoing personality and great sense of adventure
  • bubbles over with infectious enthusiasm
  • has a great sense of humor and loves to have fun
  • loves to absorb the culture, customs and traditions of the places she visits
  • loves to tell stories
  • has the utmost respect for everyday people and their daily life challenges
  • thinks she MUST have been Caribbean in a previous life
  • is one of the most social media savvy bloggers I know!

I would say those are the best traits any person could have for a Tobago Island Connoisseur. Kristi can definitely make us eager to discover the island for ourselves.
 

How do I vote in the #60Days in Paradise campaign?

Voting for the Tobago Island Connoisseur could not be easier. Click the photo below and you'll land directly on the voting page. Scroll down until you see Kristi's name and video. Click vote. Now click your browser's "back" button and vote again. That's it! You don't have to register, create an account, give your name, email address or anything else. Simply cast your two votes and you're done. There's a maximum of two votes allowed from any IP address, so feel free to cast more votes from your smartphone, iPad or laptop. Remember, voting ends May 16, 2014.

Tobago-Island-Connoisseur-Kristi-Keller

I sincerely hope Kristi wins because I know that everything she posts will make us want to visit Tobago, whether or not we're Canadian. In fact, I already have a request for her to investigate and report back. I'm intrigued by the "mystery tombstone" of Betty Stiven, who died in Tobago in 1783 at 23 years old. There's lots of speculation about Betty's story, and the baffling epitaph in the village of Plymouth reads:

Beneath these walls are deposited the body of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death, which happened upon the 25th November 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.

I've already cast my maximum votes. Now it's your turn. Please go now and vote for Kristi Keller to become the Tobago Island Connoisseur!

If you're considering a trip to Jamaica, please visit us at KeepItJiggy.com for lots of information about where to stay and what to see, do and eat while you're there.

 

Related articles

  • My Island Cup Runneth Over
  • How #60Days Can Turn Into A Year

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Popular 2014 Jamaican Bobsled Team Means Business in Sochihttp://keepitjiggy.com/2014/02/jamaican-2014-olympic-bobsled-team-cool-runnings-part-2/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/02/jamaican-2014-olympic-bobsled-team-cool-runnings-part-2/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 05:36:31 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=20323 The Jamaican bobsled team has been absent from the Wint […]

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The Jamaican bobsled team has been absent from the Winter Olympic Games for 12 years. They missed qualifying by only one place in 2006 for the Turin, Italy games and in 2010 for Vancouver, British Columbia.

But, they're back!

The original team (Devon Harris, Dudley Stokes and Michael White, with alternates Freddie 'Reggae' Powell and Caswell Allen) qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They shot to fame because they were the ultimate underdogs, and we all love an underdog! Not only did they represent a tropical nation in a cold-weather sport, but they had to borrow sleds from other nations in order to compete.

While at the Games, they decided to try the four-man event as well, but had to scramble to reassemble a team because Powell and Allen were ruled out. They succeeded in substituting Stokes' brother, Christian, and the rest is history. The four-man team didn't officially finish because it crashed during one of the four runs, but it became the inspiration for the 1993 movie, Cool Runnings. For a nice recap of the 1988 events, read this article from ESPN.CO.UK.

Entertainment aside, there's no ignoring the phenomenal success of Jamaican athletes in the Summer Olympic Games, but can they be competitive in snowy, icy sports? As a matter of fact, they can, and they are serious contenders!

In 1992, the Jamaican bobsled team returned to the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, but finished poorly. They qualified again for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. There, their 4-man sled team surprised many of its critics by finishing in 14th place, ahead of the U.S., Russia, Australia, France, and two sleds from Canada.

In 2000, the Jamaican bobsled team took the gold medal at the World Push Championships in Monaco. At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City , the 2-man team of Winston Watts (pilot) and Lascelles Brown (brakeman), set the Park City bobsled track record and the Olympic record for the push-start segment of the 2-man race at 4.78 seconds. So, yes, Jamaica CAN produce world-class Winter Olympic athletes!

After competing in 2002, Winston Watts came out of retirement to get a team together for Sochi. For the last two years, he has been using up his life savings to pay for his teammates to fly from Jamaica to the U.S. for training. The original plan for a regular four-man team was scrapped when no major sponsors materialized, and the funding problems caused them to cut back to a two-man team.

The Jamaican bobsled team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has five members: pilot Winston Watts (from May Pen), brakeman Marvin Dixon (from Rockfort), backup Wayne Blackwood (from Kingston) who will compete if needed, coach Thomas Samuel, and “mission chief” Chris Stokes, from the original 1988 team. Tom Samuel is a former Canadian National Bobsleigh Pilot/Driver and fellow competitor of Winston Watts.
 

Worldwide Fans Come Through

jamaican-bobsled-team-2014The original 1988 team had been backed by the Jamaican Olympic Association and wealthy donors, but few had stepped up to help this time. Germany had donated a sled (which needed runners), but they were still $80,000 short.

The team couldn't afford to race the World Cup circuit this season or fly to Switzerland to compete in the final qualification runs. So Watts and Dixon sat home and hoped that they had accumulated enough points in lower-tier races in North America to make the cut. (They had 5th and 7th place finishes in their last two races.) And, amazingly, they qualified.

Still short of funds with only weeks to go before the Games, there was no way they would be able to make the trip to Sochi because they couldn't cover their travel expenses or buy the additional sets of sled runners they needed.

With the help of a savvy fan who was familiar with "crowdfunding," a fundraising campaign was set up for the team through Crowdtilt and, in three short days, raised over $129,000 from 2,800+ supporters in 52 different countries around the world.

The team ended the campaign early because the donations were more than they dreamed of and Samsung had also stepped forward as a sponsor. And, eventually, Jamaican Olympic officials said they and the Sochi Organizing Committee would cover all travel costs for the team. Imagine that. The team plans to use excess funds to support future bobsled teams.
 

Glitches on the Way to the Games

Travel snarls on the East Coast of the U.S. caused the Jamaican bobsled team to arrive in Sochi ahead of their luggage and equipment. Other teams contributed clothing, but without their sliding suits, helmets or the expensive runners for their two-man sled, they had to miss their Wednesday training runs.

The team was back in business after their equipment arrived late Wednesday evening, and they got their first runs in on Thursday at the Sanki Sliding Center.

So, it looks like hard work, resilience and the power of some online love has paid off. Big up, Jamaican Bobsled Team! We wish you every success. Bring some Jamaican sunshine to that bobsled track!
 

How to Follow the Jamaican Bobsled Team

The competition begins next Sunday, February 16, with Heat #1 at 11:15AM (EST), followed by the second heat about 12:50PM (EST). The competition continues on Monday, February 17, with Heat #3 at 9:30AM (EST) and the final heat at 11:05AM (EST).

Jamaica Bobsled Team Website
Follow them on Facebook
Connect on Twitter - @JamBobsled, @wwatt4; hashtags #JamaicaBobsled, #Sochi2014, #CoolRunnings, #CoolRunnings2


 
 

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R.I.P. William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke | Reggae Icon with a Sense of Purposehttp://keepitjiggy.com/2014/02/r-p-william-bunny-rugs-clarke-reggae-icon-sense-purpose/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/02/r-p-william-bunny-rugs-clarke-reggae-icon-sense-purpose/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 03:43:05 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=19862   Thanks for the Memories, Bunny Rugs! With great […]

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Thanks for the Memories, Bunny Rugs!

With great sadness, I learned of the passing over the weekend of William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke, lead vocalist of the legendary Jamaican reggae band, Third World, and one of my all-time favorites. He shared a birthday with Bob Marley (February 6) and died on February 2, 2014 at his home in Orlando, Florida, following a bout with leukemia, just a few days shy of his 66th birthday. He is survived by his wife and 8 children.

Born in Mandeville and raised in East Kingston, Clarke often credited his father, an Anglican preacher, for his vocal talent and his inspiration for choosing music as a career. His grandmother was responsible for the "Bunny" part of his nickname because he jumped around the house like a rabbit when he was little, and "Rugs" came from a Third World road crew member because of his affinity for sleeping on the floor.

Clarke's musical career started at about age 15 when he joined a band called Charlie Hackett and the Souvenirs in the mid-1960s. While living in New York City, he was a part of several other bands. In 1970, he became the lead singer of the band, Inner Circle, joining guitarist and cellist Stephen "Cat" Coore, keyboard player Michael "Ibo" Cooper, percussionist Irvin "Carrot" Jarrett, and drummer William John Lee "Root" Stewart. They would all be together again when, in 1976, Clarke and Stewart joined the Third World band just three years after Coore and Cooper had formed it with Inner Circle singer Milton "Prilly" Hamilton. Clarke performed on all but Third World's debut album.

Cover of "96° in the Shade"

Cover of 96° in the Shade

Covering The Abyssinians' "Satta Massagana", Third World had gained attention in Jamaica. After replacing the band's drummer, Carl Barovier, with Stewart, and Hamilton with Bunny Rugs, they released their second album, 96° in the Shade (1977), which produced more hits. But their cover version of The O'Jays' "Now That We Found Love" from their third album, Journey to Addis, is probably what propelled Third World to international attention. With a few changes of band members (Cooper, Stewart and Jarrett eventually moved on), Third World has continued to record and perform to enthusiastic crowds around the world for over 40 years.

Few bands in any music genre can sustain the high-quality sound and musical arrangements that Third World has accomplished for so many decades. They were often criticized by reggae purists for their fusion of reggae, soul, R&B and pop music, but Third World is the band so many of us in the U.S. and U.K., who became reggae fans in the '70s and 80's, grew up on (aside from Bob Marley). With a bunch of extremely talented musicians along with the soulful voice of Bunny Rugs, Third World became Jamaica's beloved "Reggae Ambassadors", helping to put the island on the musical map.

While the Jamaican music industry struggles today to find its bearings on an international level, the genre is alive and well off the island. I attribute part of that excitement to bands like Third World. They sing about everything from love to heartbreak to social and political issues, but I can listen every day AND share their music with my kids. I can't say the same for much of the dancehall coming off "the rock" these days.

Bunny Rugs was loaded with charisma. He had a wonderful smile that always left me wanting more. It's difficult to find a suitable replacement for such a larger-than-life singer, but AJ Brown has been filling in as lead singer while Rugs' health has kept him away from the band's current 40th anniversary tour.

Clarke also openly radiated his love for Jamaica, which made fans around the world want to know more about the island and it's music. Say what you want about Third World "selling out"; they have been great for Jamaica and I hope they continue making wonderful music for 40 more years!

Thank you, Bunny, for your sweet voice and for my fond memories of your live performances. Peace on your journey. Rest well. One love!
Enjoy this 2013 interview from Calibe Thompson of Caribcast and Jamaicans.com followed by a couple of great Bunny Rugs and Third World performances:

 


 

 

 
Click here for more information about Third World.
 
 

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Fi Wi Sinting 2014 | Celebrate Jamaica’s African Roots at Feb 16th Festivalhttp://keepitjiggy.com/2014/01/fi-wi-sinting-festival-2014/ http://keepitjiggy.com/2014/01/fi-wi-sinting-festival-2014/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 03:48:57 +0000 http://keepitjiggy.com/?p=19108 Culture & Family Fun at Portland's Fi Wi Sinting 2 […]

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Culture & Family Fun at Portland's Fi Wi Sinting 2014!

Fi Wi Sinting 2014, a unique cultural festival that pays tribute to Jamaica's African heritage, will mark it's 24th staging on Sunday, February 16th, from 10:00am to 8:30pm.

The phrase "Fi Wi Sinting" means "It is ours" in Jamaican patois, and captures the spirit in which Jamaicans embrace the food, traditions and customs that followed many of their ancestors from Africa. February is Black History Month and the Festival is Jamaica's biggest African-centered cultural event.

Enjoy a day for the entire family as you mingle with visitors, tourists and Jamaicans from all walks of life at this year's festival!

Getting to Fi Wi Sinting 2014

Somerset Falls Water Park, in Portland Parish, is the setting for the festival, and you'll find this lush property transformed into a big marketplace. Somerset Falls is located just off of Route A4 between the communities of Hope Bay and St. Margaret's Bay, about 10 miles west of Port Antonio.

If you're coming from the west (Annatto Bay), look for the signs as soon as you pass through Hope Bay. If coming from the east (Port Antonio), look for the signs once you have passed St. Margaret's Bay and the Ken Jones Aerodrome.

The driving time from Port Antonio is about 15 minutes. From either Kingston or Ocho Rios, the drive will take about 1 3/4 hours.

 

fi-wi-sinting-2014-somerset-falls-map width=

 

How to Get Tickets

Admission is J$800 for adults, J$300 for children 12 and under, and J$500 for students with ID. In US dollars, the prices are $9.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 12 and under, and $6.00 for students with ID.

You can also purchase tickets online via EventBrite for a small handling fee.

The Fi Wi Sinting 2014 festival organizers can be reached at (876) 913-0108, or contact them via the website if you would like to make a group booking.

 

What to Expect

fi-wi-sinting-2014-flyer

The Fi Wi Sinting 2014 marketplace will featuring art, clothing, books, jewelry and many other crafts. There's always lots of dancing, great food and drumming throughout the day.

Storytelling revolves around the cunning spider, Anance, also known as Anansi, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy. Anansi tales are believed to have originated with the Ashanti people of Ghana, in West Africa. Anancy tales are a very familiar part of Jamaican culture.

Food treats include traditional dukonoo (also duckunoo or duckanoo) which originated in Ghana and is called tie-a-leaf and blue drawers (draws) in Jamaica. It's a dessert made from cornmeal, coconut, spices and brown sugar, tied up in a banana leaf. You'll also enjoy sweet potato pudding, fried fish and bammy, as well as an abundance of vegetarian and Ital selections.

Here's some information from the Fi Wi Sinting website about the entertainment you can expect:

"Experience the pulsating rhythms of the Kumina drums brought to our shores from the Congo, the mento band - our own indigenous folk music, participate in Nyabinghi chanting with Rastafarians, or join children as they playfully follow closely behind the Jonkonoo band with its main character, Pitchy Patchy, which travelled with us from West Africa."

Enjoy these highlights from previous Fi Wi Sinting festivals:



 

A Little History

"It is not the honor that you take with you,
but the heritage you leave behind."
~ Branch Rickey

Jamaica is a diverse mix of the descendants of African slaves and European settlers. The first Africans arrived in the West Indies as slaves in the early 1500s after being taken from West Africa by the Spanish and the Portuguese. When the English captured Jamaica in 1655, the Spaniards armed small numbers of slaves so they could defend the island against the British. Many of these slaves fled to the hills where, still today, their descendants, the Maroons, live in secluded communities.

By 1700, Jamaica had about 70 sugar plantations, and the island's population consisted of 7,000 English to 40,000 enslaved Africans. This grew to more than 680 plantations and, by 1800, the population was 21,000 English to 300,000 enslaved Africans. Planters exported sugar, molasses and rum home to England to be sold for profit. Ships returned to Africa to collect more slaves in exchange for trinkets and transported them to the West Indies as a continuous source of labor.

The slaves came primarily from Eastern, Central, and Western Africa, bringing their customs and traditions with them. A spiritual people, music and dancing were important, and drums were sometimes used to communicate from one plantation to another. (This often resulted in bans on drumming.)

The slaves transplanted some of their African food ingredients, like okra, black-eyed peas, sesame, rice and watermelon, and added New World ingredients like corn, sweet potatoes and yams. They also recreated African musical instruments from materials found in Jamaica (calabash, conch, bamboo, etc.) and improvised their song and dance.

Jamaican music today developed out of the traditional work songs sung by slaves, the ceremonial music used in religious services and the social and recreational music played on holidays and during leisure time. Some of the Jamaican traditions that have roots in Africa and will be honored at Fi Wi Sinting 2014 include:

  • Jonkanoo (John Canoe), a traditional dance of African origin, is performed in Jamaica mainly at Christmas time. The folk music is a highly rhythmical and the dance is carnival-like. Some key characters in the dance are Pitchy Patchy, Horsehead, Cowhead and Belly Woman. The music typically features cowbells, whistles and goatskin drums that are carried on the shoulders and played with sticks. Jonkanoo is said to have become popular when celebrating the abolition of slavery in the Island.
  • Kumina is both a dance and a religion and is indigenous to Jamaica. It was brought to the island by enslaved Akan-speaking people from the Congo and Ivory Coast after the abolition of slavery. During the Kumina ceremony, spirits of the dead are summoned to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful, so that they can share their wisdom and advice to those here on Earth. Kumina is most common today in the parishes of Portland & St Thomas and you may find it at wakes and burials (deadyards), as well as at other types of ceremonies. Drum playing is an integral part of the Kumina ritual, while the most common dance is known as "inching", where the dancers shuffle their feet as they move in a circular motion.
  • Mento is Jamaica’s original rural "country" music. It's the grandfather of reggae music and had significant influences on the formation of that genre. It was inspired by African and European music as well as by American jazz and featured acoustic guitars, banjos, bamboo saxes, hand drums and marimbula (large thumb pianos) also called rhumba boxes, which were large enough to sit on and play. Many of the original Mento instruments were handmade and some were the instruments of plantation owners. Mento's vocals have a distinctly African sound and the lyrics are almost always humorous satire. Don't confuse it with Calypso music (which originated in Trinidad).

 

A Few Tips for Enjoying Fi Wi Sinting 2014

  1. Bring a collapsible umbrella or a cheap rain poncho that can stay in your bag till you need it. It rains often in Portland, and you never know when you may get a rain shower. You'll be happy you came prepared!
  2. Apply sunscreen. You'll be outside all day.
  3. Don't forget a camera, or at least a smartphone with a camera, so you can capture the unique drum and dance performances.

 

Where to Stay Nearby

If you're coming to Fi Wi Sinting 2014 and want to make an enjoyable weekend of it, you may need a place to stay. Check our pages for places to stay in Portland and in Saint Mary. They will all put you within about a 30 minute drive of Somerset Falls.

 

Get More Information

For more about Fi Wi Sinting 2014, check out these links:
Fi Wi Sinting Official Website
On Twitter @FiWiSinting2014
On Facebook
On YouTube
On Pinterest
On Google+
 
Enjoy your day at the Fi Wi Sinting 2014 Festival!
 

 

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