We all know that music is vital to Caribbean life and that two rhythms govern. There is Jamaican reggae in the west and Trinidadian calypso in the southeast. But jazz?
Well, the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary and I would do anything to be there considering last year.
It adopts an unashamedly broad scope to attract as many visitors as possible. Previous lineups included Santana, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and Rihanna.
The festival takes place between April 30 and May 12, after the winter season but before the Caribbean becomes sweltering. So there will be music, fashion, art (and sun) all over the island.
This year, the build-up will include a night of gospel singing and two nights billed as Pure Jazz (including some jazz with steel bands, American bassist John Patitucci and two-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Samara Joy).
The Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival culminates with three nights at the main Pigeon Point venue (pictured)
The event culminates with three nights at the main Pigeon Point venue in the far north: first with Caribbean Fusion, featuring bands and rhythms from the region; then World Beats, which includes artists from other places (this year it adds Latin singer Jon Secada to the popular Afro-Beat programming).
Finally, to the main act, in which in 2023 Sting and Shaggy renewed their collaboration from 2018. This year everything will be composed of the rock duo Love Air Supply.
A good place to stay is Windjammer Landing, from where we were taken by ferry to Pigeon Point on a ten-minute boat ride. If the historic point, an islet linked to the mainland by an artificial causeway, was once a fortress, it now seems decidedly unmartial. Saint Lucians of all ages and visitors mix there. And it becomes shamelessly animated.
Windjammer Landing (pictured) is a short boat ride from Pigeon Point, making it a good base for the festival.
Previous lineups included Santana, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and Rihanna (above)
Visits to Lucía for other reasons, of course. There’s its thriving chocolate-making industry, for example, and in the capital, Castries, we were guided through a bean-to-bar chocolate experience on the terrace of Victorian Howelton House, in the center of lush greenery. eight acre tropical estate. . We place the cocoa beans in a hot mortar, add the sugar and cocoa butter and pour the aromatic mixture into a mold. While it cooled we drank fresh soursop juice and enjoyed magnificent views of the charming city.
Just 14 miles wide and exceptionally mountainous, it’s hard to imagine St. Lucia has a slow-flowing river, but we rode two miles on bamboo rafts between the forested banks of the meandering Roseau.
On the coast, the sand mounds of Roseau Beach divert the stream into a mangrove forest. We entered an atmospheric cavern of trees like a green cathedral. Lunch was served on the beach under an awning, between dips in the sparkling sea.
Saint Lucia’s terrain makes driving from one end of the island to the other slow and laborious, so the best way to visit its iconic twin peaks, the Pitons, in the south, is on a day boat trip . We joined KnottyGirl Speed Boat Tours, which makes stops along the way.
The iconic twin pythons of St. Lucia (pictured) are “one of the most impressive sights in the Caribbean and are best seen from the sea”
Above, visitors take a mud bath in the sulfurous hot springs of Santa Lucia.
At Anse Chastanet, we dove to snorkel around the reef and I found myself swimming among thousands upon thousands of fish, each an inch long and glowing around me like smoke. They dashed around chaotically as I moved, then instantly realigned into their schools.
Around the promontory, pitons rose from the shore like enormous incisors. They are one of the most impressive sights in the Caribbean and are best seen from the sea. They were once the walls of a volcano. Now, the almost dormant underworld oozes sulfurous hot springs.
We bathed in gray volcanic mud (apparently good for the skin), before rinsing off and cooling off in the Toraille waterfall, a 60-foot ice bucket challenge.
There has been talk about how AI will create music, particularly jazz. But when I left the island with the sound of Roxanne and Sting’s Boombastic coming from a deep-voiced Shaggy ringing in my ears, I decided we’re safe… at least for a while.