Feeling Irie at Québec’s premier Caribbean festival

Richard Burnett

Soak up some sunshine, feast on island cuisine and dance to the riddims of the Caribbean when the Taste of the Caribbean festival returns for its 19th annual edition at the Quai de l'Horloge (Clock Tower quay) in the Old Port of Montréal from July 12 to 15.

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Since its beginnings in 1999, the mission of A Taste of the Caribbean (TOTC) has been to showcase the food, beverages, music and arts of the 25 island nations in the Caribbean including Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent and Grenada. In 2015, the two-day community event moved to the Old Port and expanded into a vibrant and colourful international celebration that has become very popular with both tourists and locals alike.

Taste of the Caribbean

The festival got its name from the many local Caribbean caterers and restaurants who set up shop at TOTC. Taste the culinary delights – curry goat, jerk chicken, riz griot, banane plantain and a multitude of seafood dishes – at the various food vendors on-site.

The Rum Zone

The popular Rum Zone returns this year with rum tastings and the best rum cocktails by TOTC’s ambassador, internationally-renowned Montréal mixologist Gabrielle Panaccio. In addition to sampling various categories of rums from the Caribbean, there will be a variety of Caribbean tapas. Sunshine, soca and rum! What more could one ask for?

Explore Caribbean dances

Since this is TOTC’s Dance Edition (the live bands will return next year), organizers are focusing on Dance Crews who will host workshops, and they have also booked top DJs to make you dance the night away.

The DJ lineup includes some of Montréal’s best: Pat Boogie, Don Barbarino, Fabio Brizzi, Energy Squad and Little Thunder.

The biggest attraction is four-time World Salsa Champions Adrianno Ieropoli and Samantha Scali, who will dance onstage on July 15. Dominican bachata and merengue expert Pipo Alcala will also attend TOTC with more dancers.

As mentioned above, Dance Crews will host several free dance workshops each day, and you can bust a move on the Pepito Dance Floor – a 20’ x 20’ dance floor directly in front of the stage!

The TOTC site is open from 1 pm to 11 pm daily, July 12 to 15. For more information, visit totc.ca.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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