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Trinidad & Tobago - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Trinidad & Tobago

A nesting Leatherback turtle <i>(Dermochelys coriacea)</i> on the sand at night, Turtle Bay Visas: Citizens of the USA, Canada, and most European Commonwealth countries do not require visas. Visas are required by citizens of some countries, including Australia, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka. In most countries, visas are obtained through the British Embassy.
Health risks: Dengue Fever (Trinidad & Tobago suffer occasional Dengue fever outbreaks)
Time: GMT/UTC -4 (Atlantic Time)
Electricity: 110 &220V ,60Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go to Trinidad & Tobago

Carnival, two days before Ash Wednesday in either February or March, is the best reason to go to Trinidad. However, if you can live without the big party, you'll enjoy steeply discounted hotel prices and cheaper airfares by visiting in the low season from mid-April to mid-December. During this period, the beaches are less crowded, tourist areas are more relaxed and last-minute bookings are not a problem.

Trinidad & Tobago Events

The calendar of special events in both Tobago and Trinidad is dominated by Trinidad's Carnival, the reputed king of all Caribbean Carnivals. Trinidad also hosts a big jazz festival and a plethora of multicultural events; in comparison, Tobago's festivals are low-key and bucolic.

From New Year's Day onwards, Trinidadians begin their obsessive preparations for Carnival, organising themselves into costume-making working bees, testing out the steel drums and rehearsing Calypso. By Carnival Monday (two days before Ash Wednesday, in February or March) the whole island is revved. It all kicks off with a pre-dawn procession into the heart of the city as tens of thousands of revellers from around the world are invited to become part of the swell, and by nightfall everyone is dancing, drinking and carousing in the streets. On Carnival Tuesday, there are competitions for Band of the Year. Most of the larger events take place at the Queen's Park Savannah in the center of Port of Spain.

The Pan Jazz Festival, held in November, brings together pan drummers and jazz musicians for three days of concerts in Trinidad. There are also numerous East Indian festivals that are based on the lunar calendar; the biggest is Divali, which usually falls in November.

Tobago's Heritage Festival consists of two weeks of traditional-style festivities that begin in late July. For something quintessentially local, there's the big goat race in Tobago's Buccoo village on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter.

Public holidays celebrated in Trinidad & Tobago are: New Year's Day (1 January); Eid Ul Fitr (varies according to the Islamic calendar); Good Friday and Easter Monday (March/April); Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day (30 March); Indian Arrival Day (30 May); Corpus Christi (ninth Thursday after Easter); Labour Day (19 June); Emancipation Day (1 August); Independence Day (31 August); Christmas (25 December) and Boxing Day (26 December).

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