Tobago’s Cultural Scene
Tobago’s cultural scene ranges from traditions with strong community roots, to international events attracting talent and patrons from across the globe.
Almost every village has a performing or cultural arts group that preserves Tobago’s rich African-based folk traditions, hosting or guesting at performances during the year. Speech bands, tambrin (from tambourine) music, and the reel and jig dances are native Tobago traditions. The midyear Tobago Heritage Festival is the signature event showcasing these arts.
Reel, Jig and Saraka are indigenous dances from Pembroke, with West African roots invoking the ancestors. The reel and jig and the accompanying tambrin music are uniquely Tobago
An explosion of local, regional and international talent is seen surrounding the Tobago Jazz Experience in April.
Village harvest and fisherman’s festivals are at the core of Tobago’s community life. Virtually every weekend villages take turns hosting a harvest. It starts with a church service after which everyone heads home to cook. In the evening, people from other villages go round to each house tasting the fabulous meals of stewed pork, stewed chicken, curried crab, dumpling, cassava and much more. Visitors are not only welcome but expected to join in these community festivals.
Speech bands are a Tobagonian Carnival tradition, featuring a cast of costumed characters speechifying in rhyme, resembling old English Mummers, drawing on the vibrant West African oral tradition. Bethel and Plymouth are home to these bands