Festival & Events
If there is one thing that stands out about Guyanese, it is that we love coming together and enjoying celebrations. Many festivals and events showcase the country’s colourful ethnic diversity. These events come alive through road parades and processions, street jams and parties. So, mark your calendars and plan your trip around one of these exciting events. You will not be disappointed.
On February 23rd, 1970, Guyana became a republic nation. Every year, to commemorate this historic moment, Guyanese celebrate Mashramani. This Indigenous word means ‘celebration after hard work’. Mashramani, commonly known as Mash, sees Guyanese and travellers coming together to take part in a festival filled with colourful activities including a day long parade along Vlissengen Road in Georgetown, musical performances, local street games and sampling a diverse range of local food from street vendors who line the avenues. Other towns such as New Amsterdam and Linden have their Mash celebrations a week later, making it easy for travellers to partake in the festivities. This is one of the best ways to experience Guyana’s cultural makeup and have some fun with friends, old and new.
Phagwah, also known as Holi, is a Hindu holiday dedicated to the festival of spring and celebrated among all Guyanese. The day is usually spent adorning friends and family with water and or dry and wet colours applied with powders. There’s plenty of music, dance and eating traditional Indian sweet treats like gulab jamoon, barfi, jalebi and mettai among others. Many organisations also host Phagwah melas with the largest one being held at the National Stadium at Providence. Singing, dancing and consuming sweet treats are all part of the fun and entertainment at these melas.
During the Easter weekend, the skies are usually decorated with bright, colourful kites throughout Guyana. One of the most popular areas for kite flying is the Kingston seawall in Georgetown and #63 Beach in Berbice. Christian religious events usher in the festivities, followed by a number of other exciting events. Kite-flying competitions are held throughout the country. Many locals create unique kites vying for the title of largest, smallest and most creative kite. Incidentally, the Rupununi Rodeo and the Bartica Easter Regatta are slated for the same weekend. So, you’ll have your pick for an amazing Easter getaway.
One of Guyana’s largest events, the Rupununi Rodeo is held in Lethem during the Easter weekend. The festival commemorates the ranching history and lifestyle of the region. This is the time when vaqueros showcase their skills in bareback bronc riding, team roping, bull-riding, barrel-racing and more. Lots of local beer, food, music, local craft offerings, and parties add to the experience. Most people can be seen decked out in their best cowboy boots and hats. On Easter Monday the following day, the indigenous village of Sand Creek hosts its own rodeo, offering travellers a similar yet more intimate experience, so if you miss one, you can always experience the other.
Bartica Easter Regatta
The Bartica Easter Regatta is yet another popular Easter weekend activity which dates back to 1947 and has since remained a staple event in Guyana. Held on the banks of the Essequibo River in the town of Bartica, this day-long event is filled with powerboat racing, beauty pageants, local food, music and dance. Read more here.
May welcomes Guyana Carnival to the capital city of Georgetown. Carnival is a global fete, and Guyana has joined the carnival route enjoyed by revelers worldwide. A week-long calendar of events with themed parties, competitions, fashion shows, and more leads up to the grand costume road parade held on the 26th of May – Guyana’s Independence Day. Local content is promoted through music, cuisine, costume designs and attractions. Whether you’re a local, a returning Guyanese or a traveller planning a destination getaway, you will relish the infectious vibe that is Guyana’s Carnival.
In Guyana, the May-June period marks Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid-ul-Fitr, also known as the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, is a religious holiday observed by Muslims worldwide that celebrates the end of Ramadan. Indulging in excellent food, religious ceremonies and connecting with friends and family are some of the key highlights of the day. In addition to Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Youman Nabi are two other very prominent holidays dedicated to Muslim observances in Guyana.
For the locals who live for the adrenaline rush associated with racing cars, the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club has staple racing events held throughout the year at the South Dakota Circuit in Timheri. The Seaboard Marine Caribbean Motor Racing Champions held in November every year is one of the biggest motor racing events of the region, bringing together racing champions and their fan base to Guyana to vie for the ultimate prize.
Lake Mainstay Regatta
Lake Mainstay Regatta has been a popular local event on the Essequibo Coast for a number of years. Usually held during the August holidays, the event promises an exciting day of water sports and fun for locals and travellers alike. Powerboat races and fun games will help ignite your competitive spirit. If you’re looking to be active, swimming and local excursions are the best bets. As the sun sets, local artistes take to the stage to entertain the crowds with both local and international tunes.
Guyana has always been the hotspot for cricket, attracting rock and film stars. The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is an annual Twenty20 cricket tournament held among Caribbean nations. Six teams, including the Guyana Amazon Warriors, play for the title each year during the months of August and September. Referred to as ‘the biggest party in sport’, this event started in 2013 and continues to be a major annual highlight for locals.
Indigenous Heritage Month
Indigenous Heritage Month is held every September to honour Guyana’s Indigenous Nations, who were the first peoples to settle in Guyana. This is a great time to see the far-flung villages of the country in the middle of vibrant festivities. The celebration always commences with an indigenous religious service on the last day in August followed by a week-long cultural extravaganza, featuring various indigenous groups showcasing their food, music, arts and crafts at the Whirlwind Village located in the National Exhibition Center in Sophia, Georgetown. Almost every indigenous village has a celebratory event, but only one village is selected by the Heritage Committee to host the annual Heritage Day celebrations on the 10th of September every year. You can learn more on the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs website.
The ‘festival of lights’, also known as Diwali, is a major event among both Hindus and the majority of the non-Hindu population of Guyana as well. Traditional oil lamps and diyas can be seen adorning houses throughout the country. This is also a time where family and friends get together and enjoy tasty sweetmeats – locally made sweet treats like mettai and gulab jamoon among others. The night before locals come out in numbers to enjoy the annual Diwali motorcade. Here, participants come together to create beautiful moving displays that capture and display the significance of the festival.
Rockstone Fish Festival
Every year, during the last weekend of October, the Rockstone Fish Festival is held in Rockstone, Linden. During the festival, you can take part in sport fishing activities, bird watching and relaxing tours around the village. Fishing enthusiasts travel from near and far to try their hand at catching the largest and heaviest types of fish in the river and food vendors will entice you with various fish dishes prepared in all kinds of ways. In the future, the village aims to add even more exciting events to their festival checklist.