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New Orleans may be home to Mardi Gras and Rio may boast one of the biggest carnivals in the world with two million people spilling into the streets, but Cayman has also carved out a heritage of its own in festival form.
Many carnivals around the world are related to religion and celebrate the lead-up to Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, but Grand Cayman throws its fête a bit later in the season. Cayman Carnival Batabano — the island’s national carnival — takes place the first week of May and pays tribute to Cayman’s turtling heritage. The name Batabano actually refers to tracks left in the sand from sea turtles making their way to the beach to nest. Not only does carnival still honour this part of Cayman’s heritage, it also brings together the Island’s mélange of more than 100 nationalities, making this melting pot of cultures feel truly Caymanian in spirit.
“Now in its 34th year, Batabano has certainly come of age and is on the carnival world stage,” says carnival chair Donna Myrie-Stephen, who has worked on the committee for the past 16 years. “Spectators can be prepared to be blown away with the beautiful, intricate costuming that will be seen on carnival day parading on our famous Seven Mile Beach parade route.”
The main attraction — the adult parade — kicks off at Public Beach near West Bay Road at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, and weaves through the centre of town, ending on Harbour Drive in George Town with music and the annual food festival. Set up a tailgating party or join the procession (be sure to pack costumes and plenty of glitter in your two pieces of complimentary checked luggage on board Cayman Airways) with its calypso bands, soca music, limbo dancers and Island-inspired costumes.
Cayman Airways is the official airline of Batabano. For more information on the Batabano Cayman Carnival, visit caymancarnival.com.
2nd–7th. Cayman Airways U-15 Invitational Youth Football Cup brings teams together from all over the globe. Games will take place at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex or Ed Bush Sports Complex from 2 – 8 p.m. caymanyouthfootballcup.ky
5th. The Friday night Batabano fete features international renowned Soca Artists, International Soca DJs, local artists and more. Cayman Airways is the official airline of Batabano. caymancarnival.com
6th. Capture your special Mother’s Day moments with a free photo session with Picture This on Camana Bay’s Gardenia Court. camanabay.com
12th–15th. Join in on the music and costume fun for the annual Cayman Brac Braccanal parade. braccanal.com
16th. Discovery Day in the Cayman Islands commemorates the discovery of the Sister Islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, by Christopher Columbus in 1503.
6th. Summer Moonlight and movies kicks off at Gardenia Court in Camana Bay. Every Tuesday throughout the summer, families can spend quality time together watching a different movie under the stars. camanabay.com
10th. Drawing both Olympic-level and casual swimmers, the Flowers Sea Swim, sponsored by Cayman Airways, is an exciting one-mile swim that runs parallel to Seven Mile Beach. flowersseaswim.com
12th. Local and visiting swimming aficionados are encouraged to make it a swimming weekend by participating in the Flowers 5k and 10k Sea Swim. Cayman Airways is a silver sponsor. flowersseaswim.com
12th. In honour of Cayman Islands’ British heritage, the birthday of the Queen of England is celebrated, filling the streets with full military dress parade, 21-gun salute and an open house and garden reception at the Government House.
17th. Cheer on the Cayman Rugby Union as they go head to head against Mexico in the Health City Cayman Big Game 8, at Truman Bodden Sports Complex. caymanrugby.com
June 30–July 1. The CayFilm Cayman International Film Festival is an annual multi-day spectacular event that promotes the Cayman Islands as a world-class filming destination and incredible place to visit and do business.
June 30–July 3. For four days, Cayman Brac will turn into a party destination with impressive offerings and amenities for the Brac Escape Party Weekend. thebracescape.com