Visitors and locals are drawn to St. Barth for its white-sand beaches, pristine blue water, lush tropical landscape, and rolling hills adorned with red-roofed cottages. However, underlying the island’s natural splendor and chic aura is a booming art, music, and entertainment scene, blending Caribbean and French culture through a myriad of exciting events throughout the year. With renewed excitement for travel to St. Barth, Le Guanahani is happy to share eight of the island’s signature events for early 2019 to inspire a culturally enriching visit to our slice of paradise.
Ballet Dancers from the Paris Opera
January 4 – 5
To kick off the New Year, St. Barth welcomes ballet dancers from the world-renowned Paris Opera to the dock at Quai Général de Gaulle for two consecutive nights of open-air performances. Open to the public and free to attend, these choreographed routines showcase the remarkable talent of the young, budding dancers of France’s most prestigious ballet academy. Not only does this annual occasion jumpstart yet another year of unforgettable festivities on the island, it’s also considered the unofficial kickoff for the St. Barth Music Festival.
St. Barth Music Festival
January 12 – 20
A signature island event, the long-running St. Barth Music Festival offers eight enriching nights of the finest music and dance performances by some of the world’s most prominent artists in classical, opera, ballet, and jazz. Set amid St. Barth’s serene beauty and informal island atmosphere, festivalgoers return year after year to intimately experience the diverse performances in quaint churches and community halls across Gustavia and Lorient. From the opening night celebrating the music of Brasília to the final two nights showcasing the pulse of Hawaii, the 35th anniversary of the event has something for all arts enthusiasts.
Photo: St. Barth Music Festival
Carnival St. Barth and Mardi Gras
March 1 – 6
In a merging of Caribbean styles — complete with a Creole twist — St. Barth’s annual Carnival period kicks off in January with marches led by the beating drums of two lively local groups: The Youngz and La Pointe en Mouvement, who can be seen throughout the streets of Gustavia over the weekend period.
The Mardi Gras celebration officially gains momentum with a children’s parade through the streets of Gustavia on the first day of March. This year, Mardi Gras – otherwise known as Shrove or Fat Tuesday – takes place on Tuesday, March 5. Head to Gustavia for a colorful parade, complete with music, decorated floats, costumes, and body paint.
The festival ends on Ash Wednesday at Shell Beach with the sunset burning of a straw statue of Vaval, the king of Carnival. To cap off the celebration, partygoers are encouraged to head over to Shellona, just a few steps away from Shell Beach, to revel in live music, drinks, and Mediterranean cuisine.
March 21 – 24
Every March, the world’s most spectacular superyachts gather in Gustavia’s harbor for the prestigious St. Barth Bucket Regatta. This three-day invitational hosts a series of friendly competitions between sailboat owners, as well as plenty of social events to enjoy on shore.
By day, races and award ceremonies can be enjoyed from the comfort of the island’s most iconic beachfront establishments, and at night, Bucket parties are hosted at private villas and local restaurants.
Photo: Ed Gudenas courtesy of Bucket Regatta
Les Voiles de St. Barth
April 14 — 20
Widely regarded as one of the most important events for sailors around the world, Les Voiles de St. Barth returns to the island as one of the more competitive sailboat races. In honor of its 10th anniversary, the famed invitational is planning an extra-special celebration on the regatta circuit for both participants and spectators.
The event artfully combines high-performance boats and crews with challenging courses for five days of thrilling competition on the water, complete with plenty of colorful social events at night.
Photo: Christopher Jouany courtesy of Les Voiles de St. Barth
West Indies Regatta
April 26 — 28
In April, beach-built island schooners and sloops from all over the Caribbean return to the Port of Gustavia for a commemorative celebration of the past. The West Indies Regatta spans over three days and includes sailing, live music, and a vibrant island market showcasing arts and crafts, organic produce, and specialty items that arrive by boat from around the Leeward Islands.
Photo: West Indies Regatta
St. Barth Film Festival
May 1 — 5
In its 23rd consecutive season, the St. Barth Film Festival exhibits the cultural essence of the Caribbean through international and regional cinema. The beloved event includes five days and nights of inspiring artistic expression and has put St. Barth on the map as a meeting place for filmmakers around the world to gather, watch, and discuss their work.
Adding to the films shown in Lorient, the festival will screen its entries on the sands of Flamands Beach and on the dock of Gustavia, as well as in local schools in an effort to inspire the island’s students to discover filmmaking as a future profession and means of cultural expression.
St. Barth Theatre Festival
May 3 — 26
Sponsored each May by the SB Artists, a local nonprofit theater troupe, the St. Barth Theatre Festival hosts a series of performances and plays put on by local actors and those from neighboring islands and France. The festival is completely volunteer-driven, aiming to promote the exchange and diversity of acting genres by bringing the theater to the audience.
Featured Photo: West Indies Regatta