5 Reasons to Check Out the St. Lucia Jazz Festival

Jazz fans, your paradise has been found. And it’s calling you.

The St. Lucia Jazz Festival Produced in Collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center is set to take place May 4-12, showcasing more than a dozen performances by world-renowned artists in intimate venues and public settings throughout one of the Caribbean’s most magnificent islands. If the pristine beaches, lapping waves and billowing palms aren’t enough to entice a visit, consider the musical programming, which this year will include a gospel jazz brunch on Mother’s Day, jazz cruises under the stars, one-of-a-kind jazz collaborations, concerts in waterfront venues, open-air performances with Saint Lucia’s landscape as a backdrop and a special evening with students from the Saint Lucia School of Music.

While some of you may already be booking your tickets, others may still need convincing. See below for the 5 Reasons to Check Out the St. Lucia Jazz Fest, and learn why the festival has been called the Caribbean’s premier jazz destination.

By the way, ticket prices begin at USD $40 per person and guests will receive a 20 percent discount if purchased before March 31. To purchase tickets, learn more about performances, and find out about travel packages, go to www.stlucia.org/jazzfestival for details.

1. The lineup was curated by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Etienne Charles (left) will be a headliner at the 2019 St. Lucia Jazz Festival (Credit: Lawrence Sumulong)

Through a first-time, one-of-a-kind collaboration, the St. Lucia Jazz Festival is partnering with New York’s premier jazz organization, Jazz at Lincoln Center, to program a stellar lineup. Bassist Christian McBride, vocalist Ledisi, trumpeter Etienne Charles, bassist Russell Hall and saxophonist Patrick Bartley will serve as artists-in-residence during the week-long festival. Artists Gregory Porter, Dianne Reeves, Catherine Russell, Somi, The Baylor Project, Veronica Swift, members of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and a host of musicians and collaborators from the Caribbean will perform throughout the week. In addition to world-class performances, the 2019 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival will feature “Artists In Education” initiatives including master classes, professional development, and live performance collaborations with Saint Lucia School of Music students and local jazz artists.

2. The festival takes place in a literal paradise

St. Lucia’s Piton mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Saint Lucia, one of the Windward Islands of the West Indies’ Lesser Antilles, has been holding an annual jazz festival for the past 27 years. Its longevity owes a lot to its landscape. The island is known for its miles of pristine beachfront, sapphire-blue waters, luxury resorts, fine dining and breathtaking Pitons mountains, which were recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are said to be the most photographed location in the Caribbean. Visitors can drive in through the Pitons’ volcanically active mountain range to enjoy the natural sulfur springs, which locals say have tremendous benefits for both body and spirit. But the Pitons are just one of St. Lucia’s many natural delights. The island is also home to the picturesque Anse Chastanet beachfront, one of the world’s most popular sites for snorkeling and diving. Plus, there’s the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens. Brimming with wild foliage, this walkable 6-acre botanical garden is home to the Diamond Falls waterfall, a stunning natural cascade that changes colors at various points during the year due to its mixture of rainwater and volcanic minerals.

3. You can stay at some of the best hotels in the Caribbean

An aerial view of the beach house at St. Lucia’s Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort

The St. Lucia Jazz Festival and Jazz at Lincoln Center have teamed up with JetBlue to offer premium vacation packages featuring stays at some of the island’s most elegant resorts. The Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa is located on St. Lucia’s exotic south coast, and houses a full-service salon and ocean-front spa. It’s also the site of St. Lucia’s largest water park, as well as nine upscale restaurants, seven bars, five pools and a complete fitness center. The couples-only, all-inclusive Serenity at Coconut Bay is another option, where luxuries include private and spacious indoor and outdoor living areas, mahogany king beds, fine dining, craft cocktails, butler service, 24-hour room service and personalized top-shelf bar. And the Sandals Halcyon Beach resort certainly lives up to its name by offering a place of tranquility, peace and calm with an all-inclusive package that includes unlimited fine dining and bar access (including swim-up bars).

4. The festival is famous for spontaneous dance parties

Dancers at the Gros Islet Jump Up (Photo by Bill Mortley/Saint Lucia Tourist Board)

The St. Lucia Jazz Festival isn’t just about music — it’s also a celebration of St. Lucian culture. And a major part of that culture is dancing. The festival itself takes place on Pigeon Island National Landmark, with the main stage situated at the foot of a gently sloping shoreline. Attendees can make their way through the crowds to grab a spot at the frontnof the stage to listen, or they can hang back and participate in one of the festival’s famous spontaneous dance parties. Making it easier to cut a rug are appearances by Caribbean artists like Augustin “Jab” Duplessis (St. Lucia) and Mario Cononge (Martinique), who know how to construct a contagious groove.

But the dancing is hardly limited to festival grounds. Walking around the streets of St. Lucia, you may just soft-shoe your way into one of the island’s legendary “jump up” dance parties, which often last until the small hours of the morning. The Gros Islet street party has been taking place every Friday for 50 years, serving up dance music alongside grilled lobster, conch and other island delicacies.

5. The food doesn’t get any fresher

A view of the Pitons from Jade Mountain Restaurant in St. Lucia

St. Lucia has become a magnet for culinary adventurous travelers looking to sample the fare of the Caribbean. The island is a foodie’s paradise, with dining establishments that range from five-star restaurants to street-side grills, and bars that bring hospitality to the next level. Seafood is the centerpiece of St. Lucia’s culinary offerings, and every restaurant in town specializes in it. Jade Mountain and Dasheene at Ladera are among the many restaurants serving upscale Caribbean and French cuisine, but the island even has options for landlubbers. Big Chef Steak House, located in Rodney Bay Village, serves up juicy, sizzling steaks six days a week. Those with more curious palates will find much to love in the island’s national dish, Green Fig & Salt Fish (boiled unripe green bananas and salted cod), which tastes best alongside a local rum or ice-cold Piton beer.

For more information on the St. Lucia Jazz Festival Produced in Collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, visit Stlucia.org or the Jazz at Lincoln Center website

Join Our Newsletter
Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, album, events and more delivered to your inbox.

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz