There’s no doubt about it—Dominicans sure know how to party! The annual World Creole Festival is surely one of those events you just don’t want to miss. The Creole Festival has been going on for 15 years and on Thursday, October 27 at a meet and greet at the Fort Young Hotel, Dominica’s director of tourism and chief executive officer of Discover Dominica Colin Piper said: “This event is the signature event for Dominica on it’s festivals calendar. It helps with the numbers, in terms of visitors coming into Dominica at this time and also it helps with the promotion of the island. You know, wherever artistes are, and wherever there is entertainment, normally there is the media who I hope will take the time to experience Dominica’s culture, cuisine, get to know the people of Dominica, because they’re an integral part of what is uniquely Dominican.”
Media from all over the region participated in various tours organized by Discover Dominica leading up to the World Creole Music Festival, and as the event neared, the hype intensified. October 28 featured the Creole dress parade, which media representatives took in from the top of the Windsor Park stadium. Children paraded in Creole wear with balloons of Dominica’s national colours and as they marched through the streets with fellow countrymen looking on it was a move so patriotic that it took your breath away.
There was no such thing as a small touch of Creole and even outside of the parade everyone went all out with their traditional wear—ladies with long flowing dresses complete with headpieces of every style imaginable. Women walked through the town in straw hats completely comfortable and confident, and young girls walked around in groups wearing matching, fashionable Creole creations they’d made specifically for the occasion. Men walked around most commonly with Creole inspired madras ties, black long trousers and crisp white shirts. Some men grooved it out in formal attire of assorted colours and there was such a great sense of appreciation of culture and patriotism that people looking on couldn’t help but admire. Amid the sea of madras it was difficult to spot anyone who wasn’t in with the trend!
As the tour of Dominica progressed, Rain Forest adventures took us through a “wild, mountainous nature reserve” to be part of an adventure that truly let you be at one with nature, discovering plants and wildlife one wouldn’t typically come across on their day to day. The tour began with a trip on the aerial tram through the rain forest canopy and village of Laudat. After A compulsory safety briefing and orientation, with the capable staff making sure you were comfortable at every moment it was time for the Gorge Zip Challenge, the southern Caribbean’s highest zip line that opened on September 30, 2011. The zip took you over the 350 ft Breakfast River George, where it’s up to you whether you’re going to look down or not. Needless to say I looked down and witnessed the most spectacular view—indescribable beauty that you’ll perhaps have to take a trip and see for yourself!
The Dominican Rain Forest Adventure Park is the sister company of St Lucia’s Rain Forest Adventures and others in Costa Rica and Jamaica. Next up was Ti Kwen Glo Cho Sulphur Spa for a traditional African Fire lunch; an all you can eat buffet that featured callalou, fish broth and other Creole favourites. The Sulphur Spa itself was similar to the St Lucian Sulphur spa experience and just as relaxing.
The first night of the Creole Festival held performances by Ali Cambell—the legendary voice of UB40, Harmonik, WCK and more. Creole night number two featured Carimi, Midnight Groovers and other acts. There was plenty to sing and jam along with Third World as they rendered songs like “Now That We Found Love, “96 Degrees in the Shade,” “Reggae Ambassador and more. The energetic Dobet Gnahoré left the audience with a message about living and loving life and even though English wasn’t her first language, Dobet proved that good music always broke universal language barriers.
Although the show came to an end around 6am festival goers somehow found the energy to take in Creole Bord La Mer at the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard that featured at least five bands, including WCK! Festival night number three saw performances by the Swinging Stars, Triple Kay and Zouk All Stars. The dancing never stopped and there was no running for shelter when it rained—and rained it did. Every few minutes the skies opened up in the island boasting 300 inches of rainfall annually. There was nothing else to do but join the sea of dancing umbrellas and enjoy the experience. There was never a dull moment in Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann’s performance and Gyptian who was one of the headliners on the final night had his way with the crowd, particularly women who just couldn’t get enough of his music and overall stage presence.
Overall the Dominica Creole Music Festival was a mixing pot filled with tremendous talent from all over the world! Other major events in Dominica include Carnival in March, Hike Fest in May, Dive Fest in July and Independence, observed in November.