X-treme party scenes and carnivals aplenty!

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ARC 2005 participant James Anderson, of the British Contest 40 Cleone, said that Old Year’s Night in Bequia was a great way to launch the New Year. “Fantastic party; we met friends and went from place to place along the waterfront,” he explains.  Stick around: the Bequia Music Fest, from 22-25 January, with live music ranging from reggae to rock ‘n’ roll, is especially popular with sailors for its seaside venues. A short sail away, the world-famous Basil’s Bar on Mustique will be hosting the Mustique Blues Festival from 21 January to 4 February.

Spend early February exploring the Grenadines’ social scene. Check out the beach bars on Canouan and village nightlife ‘up the hill’ in tiny Mayreau. Make your own party in the uninhabited Tobago Cays by hiring one of the marine park’s licensed vendors to put on a local-style beach barbecue. Ask around in Clifton on Union Island where the current happening is. On a pub-crawl of the rum shops in Carriacou, you’ll no doubt encounter Jack Iron, a rum so intense that ice will not float in it! For contrast, check out Grenada’s nightclubs and up-scale resorts. But keep moving, because it’s an overnight passage of about 80 miles from Prickly Bay to Chaguaramas and every self-respecting Party Animal will be in Trinidad from 21-24 February for the climax of Trinidad Carnival 2009. As the Trinis say, “Fête till you sweat!”

Heading north
Animated Animals can set off to make a couple of strategic stops or take a 450-mile bluewater leap straight up to St Maarten to be there from 5-8 March for the annual Heineken Regatta, renowned for its ‘x-treme’ party scene and world-class entertainment. From there, go to neighbouring St Barths and tap into the chi-chi socialising surrounding the Bucket Regatta, from 26-29 March.

Carnival It’s worth taking a jog back south, taking in Saba (weather permitting), St Kitts and Nevis on the way, because Antigua explodes into party central during the legendary Antigua Sailing Week, from 26 April to 2 May. An added attraction in 2009 will be the Sweet Cry Festival’s diverse musical performances on 1 and 2 May, at Nelson’s Dockyard.

Bopping back northward, the British Virgin Islands beckon with the BVI Music Fest at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, for the month of May. On 9 May, anchor at Trellis Bay for the zany Fireball Full Moon Party.

Staying south
After Carnival, cricket fans will want to stay put in Trinidad for the fourth test match in England’s tour of the West Indies, from 6-10 March. Cricket in Trinidad is a party in itself.

Then sail up to Grenada and hop a bus to the scenic north coast town of Sauteurs for the St Patrick’s Festival on 17 March, a lively event with craft and agricultural exhibits, music and food. On the next island north, Carriacou’s Maroon Festival, from 24-26 April, showcases that unique island’s African heritage with live music and performances, including the unforgettable Big Drum Dance.

Then quickly island-hop up through the Windward chain back to Rodney Bay for the stellar St Lucia Jazz Festival, from 1-10 May. There are summer-storage options here, or you can explore storage, cruising – and further party possibilities – below the hurricane belt.

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The Party Animal
Basil’s Bar in Mustique