Jamaica’s Most Mouth-Watering Food Festivals
by Stephanie Koathes May 29, 2019
Jamaica has a thriving culinary scene that’s a potent mix of gastronomic innovation and cultural traditions. With food so good, we have to celebrate. Here’s a roundup of some of Jamaica’s best food festivals.
Jamaica Food and Drink Festival
Over six days in October, there are seven amazing food and drink events as part of the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival. This foodie event was modelled after celebrated international food festivals such as the Aspen Wine and Food Festival and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Most of the events are all-inclusive and take place at famous venues in Kingston.
CB Pan Chicken Championships
Those steel drums, releasing fragrant smoke from the chicken being cooked within, are a common sight around the island. Pan chicken is as unique to Jamaica as jerk. The CB Pan Chicken Championships celebrates our pan chicken traditions. Winners of regional competitions go head-to-head in the latter part of the year at the grand finale for the coveted title of Pan Champion. It is one of the country’s most beloved and highly-anticipated food events with performances, competitions, and giveaways.
Blue Mountain Coffee Festival
The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival is a celebration of all things coffee at the Jamaica Defence Force training camp at Newcastle in the Blue Mountains. There are coffee-related demonstrations and workshops, food, music, and cultural activities at the Festival Marketplace.
Portland Jerk Festival
When people think of Jamaica certain things come to mind: reggae, world-class athletes, natural beauty…and jerk. Jerk chicken is probably one of Jamaica’s most famous foods and Portland lays claim to being the birthplace of jerk. Naturally, the country’s largest jerk festival takes place in Portland. The Portland Jerk Festival has occupied a spot on the July calendar of events for the last 14 years. This annual celebration fuses all things jerk with family-friendly entertainment.
Jamaica Rum Festival
This is a festival for those over 18. The Jamaica Rum Festival is two full days of rum-filled fun with live music, food, rum tastings, and demonstrations. This boozy festival also features a craft village full of local vendors showing off their unique pieces for sale. The inaugural Jamaica Rum Festival took place in 2019.
Port Royal Seafood Festival
For more than 14 years the Port Royal Seafood Festival has been serving up mouth-watering seafood dishes in Jamaica’s former pirate capital. The Grace Tropical Rhythms Port Royal Seafood Festival is traditionally held on Heroes’ Monday. Daytime is filled with succulent seafood creations and child-friendly activities. As the sun goes down, the party gets started with live performances from some notable names.
Montego Bay Jerk Festival
In August, Jamaica’s second city plays host to the largest jerk festival on the country’s western end. This family-friendly festival brings together amazing food, fun activities and live entertainment. There’s something everyone can enjoy while getting a belly full. The event, held on Emancipation Day in 2017, kicked off Jamaica’s 55th anniversary of independence festivities.
Bonus Option: Restaurant Week
Though this might not be a food festival in the strictest sense, Jamaica’s Restaurant Week is a staple on the local foodie calendar. In November, select restaurants offer up specially-priced menus in several categories. In 2017, towns outside of Kingston and St Andrew, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay were added to the restaurant week list for the first time: Mandeville, Treasure Beach, Alligator Pond and Bluefields. It’s a great opportunity to try out some of the country’s best eateries.