Best time for Good Weather: mid-December to mid-april
Best time for Honeymoon: April to June
Best time for Saving Money: September to November
Best time for Families: Late August
Best Time to Avoid Crowds: May – mid-December
Best time for Partying: December – mid-April
Best time for a Cruise: Mid-April to May and November to Mid-December
Best Time to Visit Jamaica:
Most travelers visit Jamaica in the winter (December to March), which is the country’s high season. Peak tourist season also means services are all up and running, beaches are packed, and prices are high. The best time to visit Jamaica to avoid this tourist rush and high prices but still reap the benefits of all services running and the weather being great is from November to mid-December before the peak season begins. The weather is beautiful as the rainy season tapers off, the average daily temperature is warm at 26°C but not scorching, hurricane season is over and hotel and flight deals are easy to find.
Best Time to Book Hotels & Resorts in Jamaica:
You can get some great deals if you book way in advance or look out for last-minute special offers but the rule of thumb if visiting in the winter is to make reservations 2 to 3 months in advance. At certain hotels & resorts, think about booking a year ahead for Christmas holidays or Spring Break between February and March. Mid-April to mid-December can be like a summer sale with the deals available. In most cases, hotel rates are slashed 20% to 60%. In contrast, between January and March room rates can spike to more than $700 per night at some hotels so do not rely on last minute specials if visiting during those months.
Best Time to Visit Jamaica for Good Weather:
Between mid December to the beginning of April is winter in Jamaica and the best time to visit for great weather. This is when you can expect consistently warm, sunny days and very little rain. Sea temperatures average 26-29°C and the average daytime temperature hovers around 25°C. The weather is cooler during the winter season and much more enjoyable than the scorching of the summer. Trade winds on the north coast keep things cool and comfortable – especially for hiking in the Blue Mountains and sleeping at night. The water visibility is slightly better during these winter months, due to less rain, resulting in ideal conditions for underwater activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.
Best Time to Visit Jamaica to Party:
The majority of cultural festivals occur during the first half of the year. Festivals like Bob Barley Week during the first week of February, Spring Break in March and Carnival mid April make the first few months of the year the ideal time to visit if partying and shenanigans are what you’re after.
Best time for Waterfalls:
Jamaica is home to some famous waterfalls which rank as some of the top must-see attractions on the Caribbean island. The most spectacular of these waterfall attractions include the 180-foot waterfall of Dunns River Falls and the 20-foot waterfall and aquamarine pool known as the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios. Though the falls are open year-round if you want to avoid the crowds, visit during the low season, June through November. There are days when cruise ships do not enter the port and on those days the best time to visit is between 8 am and 4 pm. You can check the Cruise Bulletin to confirm which days cruise ships will not be coming into Port to plan your waterfall excursion. In November 2019 for example, cruise ships did not come into port on Fridays and Saturdays.
Best time for Golfing:
Several construction projects in the last 20 years have built up Jamaica’s golf game. There’s even a course that made a cameo appearance in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die.” Precipitation does pick up, from 50mm of rainfall in April to 102mm in May but if the risk of rain does not scare you, then mid-April to end of May is the best time to golf as it will be easier to find a reasonable tee time. Otherwise the best time to visit Jamaica for a golfing holiday with the best, most reliable weather is during the peak winter season, mid-December to mid-April.
Best Time to Honeymoon in Jamaica:
Jamaica is one of the most in-demand destinations for newlyweds. It is the largest and most diverse Caribbean island, offering something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a beach holiday, an adventure filled honeymoon, prefer quiet or liveliness, want luxury or you are on a tight budget after paying for the wedding, Jamaica has options for everyone. Winter is generally the driest time to visit and the most popular time to go, however some honeymooners prefer to visit at other times of the year, when there are fewer crowds and lower rates. The best time for a honeymoon in Jamaica depends on whether you are tied to a specific time of year or want to keep costs down. Deciding on the best time for your honeymoon depends on what you want to do during your stay. The dry season is a great time for getting out and exploring as the rain is less likely to ruin your plans. The low season is a good time to go if you like hot temperatures and you don’t mind the risk of rain. Keeping all of this in mind, April to May and November to early December are the best times for a honeymoon if you are not set on a specific date but appreciate fewer crowds and lower prices.
Jamaica Travel Seasons:
High Season: mid-December to mid-April (esp March to – mid-April for Spring Break)
The busiest and most expensive time to go to Jamaica is during the winter and holiday season – Christmas, New Year, Spring Break, and Easter. Winter is the high season in Jamaica. The weather is sunny, warm and regulated by the cool trade winds. Sea temperatures are ideal for swimming, the hurricane season is over and the dry season has begun. The island sees an influx of tourists from around the world, fleeing cold north winds and so hotels charge their highest prices. If visiting during the high season, book at least three months in advance to ensure accommodation and tours are available.
Shoulder Season: Mid-April to May, November to Mid-December
Shoulder season is a great time to visit and Jamaica has two. From mid-April to May the weather is amazing and the crowds taper-off after peak season, giving you space to relax, unwind and soak up the sun. November to mid-December also sees great weather, the end of the rainy season, hotels are wrapping up renovations, services are in full swing and the beaches and resorts are less crowded as peak season hasn’t started yet. If you are considering taking a cruise ship vacation, shoulder season is an ideal time to book as there will be fewer crowds at the cruise ports.
Low Season: May – November
The low season falls during the summer months which includes two rainy seasons, from May to June and again from September through mid – November. The low season also includes Jamaica’s hurricane season, which officially lasts from June 1 to November 30. During these months you will experience fewer crowds on the beaches, resorts and restaurants. On top of that you will often find top-class accommodation at much lower prices – sometimes at 60% off. An important thing to note is you might be staying at a construction site. Jamaican hoteliers save their serious repairs and their major renovations until the low season. Services are often reduced, not all restaurants and bars will be fully operational at resorts and hotels as they may be operating with reduced staff.
Weather of Jamaica:
With average daily temperatures in Jamaica being among the highest in the Caribbean, every day in Jamaica can be a beach day. Winter months are warm and dry, the summers are hot and humid, while the fall and spring tend to be a combination of everything with an increased amount of rain. Montego Bay, Negril, Kingston and Ocho Rios all experience the coldest temperatures in January and the hottest temperatures in June and July. The island experiences two rainy seasons; the first beginning in May, ending in June and the second lasting from September to November – overlapping with hurricane season. The hurricane season officially runs from June 1st to November 30th, with August and September its peak months. Rainfall in Jamaica is highest between June and November, typically peaking during October and November. There are also two dry seasons, with one running from July to August and the second from December to April.
It is important to note that the weather in Jamaica can vary depending on where you are but not by too much. In the mountainous regions around the Blue Mountains it’s always a little cooler whereas hotter temperatures are found in Kingston – the island’s southern region, as it’s away from the coastal breezes. The majority of tourist resorts are found in the north and west as the trade winds temper the heat so it never gets too unbearably hot. Between September and November, the island’s northern coast experiences a slight increase in rain while Kingston, being protected by the mountains, receives less rain than the rest of the island, with an average of around 711mm of rain per year, whereas Negril receives around 1575mm of rain. As the temperature and precipitation do not vary severely across the islands, the weather described below is the average of what can be expected across the island per month.
Jamaica Weather in January:
January is the coolest month of the year in Jamaica – making it one of the most popular times to visit as the average daily temperature is a mild 25°C with a nighttime low of 21°C. January is one of the drier months of the year, with an average of 5 rainy days in the south and 7 rainy days in the north. An average of 9 hours of daily sunshine leaves plenty of time for excursions and activities. The sea is warm for swimming all year round, averaging 27°C during the winter months. So you might need to pack a light jacket or shawl for cooler evenings but make sure to also bring your swimsuit, t-shirts, dresses, shorts, sunglasses, and sunscreen. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: South – 20mm, North East – 150mm)
Jamaica Weather in February:
There is very little change in weather in February from January – in fact, temperatures remain the same with an average high temperature of 25ºC and the average minimum temperature remains around 21ºC. February does see a small dip in precipitation with one less rainy day in the North. The sunshine remains at an average of 9 hours per day and the sea temperature remains a comfortable 27°C. February is the ideal month for swimming, snorkeling and water sports as water visibility is best in the winter months. February also brings perfect conditions for enjoying other outdoor excursions like hiking and waterfalls but remember to bring good sun gear and sunscreen. Pack as you would for January, and pack extra bathing suits to take advantage of all the underwater activities. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: South – 20mm, North East – 120mm)
Jamaica Weather in March:
The weather in March is some of the best in Jamaica with slightly warmer temperatures and lower rainfall. The average daily temperature is a warm 26ºC and the average low is a balmy 22ºC. The number of hours with sunshine remains at 9 hours. The number of days with rain remains as February but with 45mm less rain in the north. With the very warm weather, minimal rain and longer days, March is one of the most popular months for visitors with students coming to party during Spring Break. Bring light clothes, a sun hat and also a sweatshirt for the evening. For the mountains, bring a jacket and hiking boots. The UV index is high so pack as you would for February and ensure you bring and use lots of sunscreen when you’re out in the sun. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: South – 20mm, North East – 75mm)
Jamaica Weather in April: The weather in April is very pleasant and can be better enjoyed by mid-month as Spring Break tourism slows down, the crowds lessen and the beaches are more relaxed with fewer parties. The average daily temperature is 26ºC and the average low increases to 23ºC. The sun shines for 10 hours bringing more time to enjoy outdoor and water activities especially as the sea remains very comfortable at 27ºC. April is right before the beginning of one of Jamaica’s wet seasons so expect a little more rain, especially around the Blue Mountains. Both north and south see an average of 7 rainy days but the north sees twice as much precipitation. Packing some light rain gear and waterproof shoes are recommended if visiting the northern coast in addition to a sun hat, sunscreen, summer clothing, a few light layers, and swimsuits. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: South – 40mm, North East – 110mm)
Jamaica Weather in May: May marks the beginning of Jamaica’s first rainy season of the year and sees a marked increase in precipitation in both the north and the south. Kingston in the south will see an average of 8 rainy days while Ocho Rios in the north sees 65mm more precipitation over 12 days. It is important to note that Jamaica rarely sees a full day of rain. Rain often falls in one part of the day – which means sunshine the other part of the day. Make sure to bring a waterproof bag and some light rain gear, to be prepared for a surprise tropical shower. Despite the increased rainfall, average daily sunshine is 10 hours leaving plenty of time to enjoy the beach or participate in Jamaica’s variety of outdoor activities. The average daily temperature in May increases marginally to 27°C and the average low is 24°C so booking a hotel with A/C is recommended to stay comfortable overnight. Also, make sure to pack sunscreen and sun gear to avoid UV damage. Light summer clothing, swimwear, and light rain gear will ensure you are prepared for Jamaica weather in May. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: South – 100mm, North East – 165mm)
Jamaica Weather in June: June marks the start of the low season in Jamaica and the beginning of summer with hot and humid weather. June is also the start of the hurricane season but chances of a serious storm so early in the year are low and surprisingly precipitation levels are lower than in May. The north sees 12 rainy days as it did in May while the Kingston in the south averages 7 days with rain. The average daily temperature in June increases to 28°C with a daily low of 24°C. Temperatures can reach as high as 33°C so finding a hotel with A/C and shady pools will be a must. Despite the heat and humidity, the north experiences northeasterly trade winds which cool things down along the coast and the rain showers help cool things down while also clearing quickly. Pack as you would for May with a mixture of light summer clothing and rain gear along with lots of good sun protection. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation: South – 75mm, North East – 110mm)
Jamaica Weather in July: July is the hottest month of the year in Jamaica with an average daily temperature of 29°C which can feel much hotter with the humidity. The evenings don’t tend to cool down very much with lows of 24°C so finding accommodation with air conditioning is a must in July as is bringing a good wide-brimmed sun hat and high SPF sunscreen with 11 hours of daily sunshine to enjoy. Swimming will be a great relief from the heat – get ready to experience sea temperature of 28°C. The number of rainy days in the north increases to 13 and decreases to 6 in the south while the average precipitation expected decreases for the month. Pack light summer clothing, swimsuits, and dry wick clothing to keep you cool and not sticky. Some light rain gear or a waterproof bag to protect valuables is also recommended for when surprise tropical showers appear. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation: South – 40mm, North East – 80mm)
Jamaica Weather in August: Temperatures don’t change very much in August with an average daily temperature of 29°C and lows of 24°C but chances of rain do increase as the height of hurricane season approaches. The south gets an average of 9 days with rain while the north coast can expect upwards of 13 days but both coasts see the same amount of precipitation. The number of daily sunshine hours decreases to 10 but UV levels are high so packing good sun protection and carrying a water bottle during the day to stay hydrated and protected from sun damage is important. The sea remains warm at 29°C – ideal for watersports and beach days. Pack as you would for July and try to book accommodation with air conditioning to remain cool and comfortable. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation: South – 100mm, North East – 100mm)
Jamaica Weather in September: September is the height of hurricane season but levels of precipitation don’t increase drastically from August. Kingston in the south sees around 11 days of rain while Ocho Rios in the north sees closer to 14 days. The average daily temperature remains hot at 28°C with lows dropping only a few degrees to 24°C. The sea remains balmy and warm as a bath at 29°C but with heavy rain expected in September beach days may not be as consistent as other months. September does see an average 10 hours with sunshine so warm sunny days are possible but packing an umbrella, light rain jacket and waterproof bag is recommended. Also bring light summer clothing, swimsuits and waterproof shoes and sun protection as UV rays remain high. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: South – 115mm, North East – 120mm)
Jamaica Weather in October: Some say that October is potentially the worst time to visit Jamaica as it is the wettest month of the year but is also the cheapest month of the year. Rain is expected for half the days of the month in both the north and the south and can appear as a downpour that lasts a few minutes or continuous rainfall that lasts a few hours – usually in the evening hours. With an average daily temperature of 27°C, evening lows of 23°C and 8 hours of daily sunshine, outdoor activities and beach days are still possible in October – just not guaranteed. If visiting in October, being prepared for anything will be key to having a nice holiday. Pack as you would in September and plan for indoor activities like the Bob Marley Museum and make sure to bring books, games and other entertainment for the extra rainy days. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: South – 175mm, North East – 190mm)
Jamaica Weather in November: November marks the beginning of the second shoulder season, the last month of hurricane season and the end of the rainy season. The rain tends to taper off in the second half of the month and both the north and south coast experience an average of 10 days with rain with the north receiving nearly 185mm more precipitation than the south. The number of hours of daily sunshine remains at 8 and the average daily temperature comes down to a comfortable 26°C making for beautiful days to enjoy the island, outdoor activities and beach days. Pack light summer clothing, swimsuits, sun and rain protection as well as some light layers for the evening as the average night-time low is 23°C which can be cool for some visitors.
(Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: South – 65mm, North East – 250mm)
Jamaica Weather in December: December falls outside of the hurricane season and brings some of the nicest temperatures and conditions of the year – despite the high precipitation in the north. The average daily temperature hovers around 26°C and the average low is a comfortable 22°C. With 10 hours of daily sunshine and only 6 days of precipitation in the south and 8 days in the north, December is a great month to take advantage of beach days, adventure days and watersports in Jamaica. Pack a variety of summer clothing, swimsuits, some light rain gear like a jacket and waterproof shoes and sun protection. Trade winds keep the north coast cool especially in the evening and at night so bringing a few warm layers is also recommended. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: South – 45mm, North East – 205mm)
Jamaica Events and Festivals:
Jamaica in January:
New Year’s Day (Jan 1) – New Year’s Day is a Public Holiday in Jamaica. Those who practice Rastafarianism celebrate New Year’s on September 11th as it correlates to the Ethiopian calendar and Rastafarians believe Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland. Public transit will be limited, and many businesses closed although some shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston, Montego Bay, and Negril will be open.
Revel Salute – January 15: An annual two-day music festival held around January 15th is one of the biggest music festivals in Jamaica with a strong reggae twist. The festival dates back to 1994 and is held at the Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, Priory, St. Ann. It is important to note the festival does prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol and meat – only fish products are allowed.
Jamaica in February:
Bob Marley Week – early February: The legendary Jamaican reggae singer is commemorated for a week in early February as it coincides with his birthday on the 6th of February. Events include music concerts, karaoke contests, exhibitions and lectures. Attractions dedicated to him hold special events – these include the Bob Marley Museum and the Bob Marley Mausoleum in Ocho Rios and there are festivities in Kingston where his former home is located. In Montego Bay hosts an annual concert to celebrate Bob Barley on his birthday.
Ash Wednesday – mid-February: The first day of Lent is known as Ash Wednesday for Christians worldwide. It is the beginning of the Lenten fast. The Lenten fast lasts for 40 days. In 2021, Ash Wednesday will be celebrated on February 17th. Ash Wednesday is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed although most shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston, Montego Bay and Negril will be open.
Jamaica in March:
Jamaica Kiteboard World Cup – March 25 to April 3: In 2020 the Long Bay Beach area of Port Antonio will hold a 10-day event for kitesurfing, with riders from around the world. Events include speed races and stunts.
Spring Break – end of February – mid-April: Families with children and students from colleges flock to the south to celebrate Spring Break. Negril and Montego Bay are the main destinations and see the biggest crowds with the wildest student parties taking place in Negril. There is no exact date for Spring Break as the dates vary by school. Most people on Spring Break come to Jamaica in March. Spring Break also includes Jamaica Beachfest in Negril, starting in late February and lasting 6 weeks into early April, featuring live music and plenty of alcohol.
Jamaica in April:
Easter Weekend – Good Friday, April 10th to Easter Monday April 13th: While going to church is a must for many Jamaicans over Easter, the majority of the population will opt to go to public beaches so expect beaches to be especially busy around the Easter season. Meat is not consumed on Good Friday but a great cultural experience to participate in would be to try the snack of Easter bun and cheese as well as other Jamaican Easter favourite of “escovitch fish.” “Escovitch” is a Jamaican variation of ceviche. As it is a public holiday, public transit will be limited, and many businesses closed although most shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston and Negril will be open. Though many Caribbean countries do restrict the sale of alcohol over Easter, this ban has been lifted in Jamaica.
Trelawny Yam Festival – April 13th: Every year on Easter Monday, the Trelawny Yam Festival features yam-balancing races, best-dressed goat and donkey, and the crowning of the Yam King and Queen. The Trelawny Yam Festival started in 1997 as a way to fundraise to support the local community. Organized by the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency, the festival celebrates yam, an important food of the people of South Trelawny, a quiet mountain village in Jamaica. In 2020, the Trelawny Yam Festival will be held on April 13.
Carnival – mid-April: Unlike other countries with Carnival season, known as Bacchanal, Jamaica holds Carnival after Lent instead of before Lent. It is the biggest event of the year that takes place all over the country. Carnival does kick off at the start of February with the main festivities ending the festival in mid-April. Similar in style to the famous Carnival in Trinidad, Carnival in Jamaica shows off Jamaican culture with street parades, a grand costume parade through the streets of Kingston, soca, Ragai, calypso music, and dancing. Events attract more than 100,000 guests, locals and tourists who come to see the big adult parade in Beach J’ouvert, the Road March and other main events that are held in Kingston, Negril, and Montego Bay. In 2020, Carnival will be taking place between April 16 and April 20th.
Jamaica in May:
Labour Day – May 23: A public holiday to celebrate the efforts of public service. Individuals, schools, clubs and other organizations are encouraged to volunteer on Labour Day for improving the environment, inspiring the spirit of community development and the principle of working together. Public transit will be limited, and many businesses closed although most shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston and Negril will be open.
Jamaica in June:
Ocho Rios Jazz Festival – mid June: The biggest jazz event of the year takes place in Ocho Rios over 8 days in mid-June. The festival has performances by international and Caribbean jazz musicians as well as family and community events. In 2020, the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival will be held June 7 – 14.
Jamaica in July:
International Reggae Day – July 1st: Musicians from around the world come to Kingston to celebrate reggae music.
Reggae Sumfest – mid July: Held in Montego Bay over three days, Jamaica’s largest concert showcases the best in reggae and dancehall music. In 2020, the Reggae Sumfest will be taking place from July 12 to 18th.
Black River Day – late July: Held in Black River, the capital of the parish of St. Elizabeth, on Jamaica’s south coast. This festival is known as Jamaica’s ‘ultimate street festival’, and is a day full of festivities, food, fashion, contests and music, starting at 9 in the morning and ending at 2 a.m. the next day.
Jamaica in August:
Emancipation Day – August 1st: A public holiday to commemorate the British signing of the Emancipation Declaration in 1838 that abolished slavery in its colonies. Many go to Spanish Town to celebrate since that is where the declaration was signed. It is a festive day with locals dressing up, dancing and waving the Jamaican flag throughout the country. There is also a Jubilee held on the grounds of Seville Great House from July 31st to August 1st and consists of dancing and traditional folk music, such as Kumina and mento. As it is a public holiday, public transport will be limited, and many businesses closed although most shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston, Montego Bay and Negril will be open.
St Mary Mi Come From – August 5th: Huge annual reggae and dancehall charity concert organized by the local music star Capleton, held at Annotto Bay every November. Capleton’s name guarantees major music talents on the bill, while all proceeds go to community organizations in St Mary parish. Note that in 2018 the concert was held in Kingston – check the event’s Facebook page for details.
Independence Day – August 6th: A public holiday, to mark Jamaica’s independence from the UK in 1962. Each church holds a flag-raising ceremony in the morning. The day is celebrated with parades, events and parties in most towns and resorts. Independence Day is also when the names of those to be honoured on National Heroes’ Day are released. A Grand Gala is hosted annually on August 6th as well at the National Stadium and showcases Jamaica’s colorful heritage in the form of song and dance with elaborate costumes. Public transit will be limited, and many businesses closed although most shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston, Montego Bay and Negril will be open.
Dream Weekend – early August: Held over five days in August, including Jamaica’s Independence Day, this music festival attracts some of Jamaica’s biggest names. In 2020, Dream Weekend will be taking place August 5 – 10.
Jamaica in September:
Accompong Maroon Festival – September 6th: A festival in Accompong Town to celebrate the Maroon’s victory over British colonists in 1731. Maroons are descendents of African slaves who escaped capture into the mountains of Jamaica. The festival is an opportunity to taste their traditional foods, hear Maroon music, and performances of sacred rituals.
Jamaica in October:
National Heroes’ Day – October 19: Every third Monday of October is National Heroes Day in Jamaica. A public and patriotic holiday to celebrate the six heroes and a heroine named by the government as national heroes. Modern day heroes are recognised and given awards on National Heroes Day. There are many special, festive events on National Heroes Day, including musical performances, dancing, cricket and soccer matches, art and craft exhibits, agricultural shows, and more. In 2020, National Heroes’ Day will be celebrated on October 19th. Public transit will be limited, and many businesses closed although most shops and attractions in main cities like Kingston and Negril will be open.
Jamaica Food and Drink Festival – late October – early November: A nine-day food festival features themed events to showcase a variety of cuisines found in Jamaica. Dates for 2020 are to be announced.
Jamaica in November:
Restaurant Week – late November: Over one week, 104 restaurants across the island release new menu items and offer signature dishes and pre-selected three-course meals for a special, discounted rate. Dates for 2020 are to be released.
Jamaica in December:
Rastafari Rootzfest – December 11-13: This 3 day festival in Negril celebrates the Rastafarian lifestyle, from music and art to I-tal cuisine, ganja cultivation and religious beliefs. Originally created as part of the fight in Jamaica to establish the political legitimacy of the ganja plant and its use by Rastafarians. In 2015 the island’s government amended the Dangerous Drugs Act and legally recognized the sacramental and religious rights of the Rastafari community to use and possess marijuana. The festival includes an expo for exhibitors, growers, and attendees as well as seminars and reggae concerts. In 2020, the festival will be held from December 11 to 13th.
Christmas Eve – December 24th: Christmas is a very important holiday in Jamaica and celebrations last for the entire month of December. Towns and cities are festively decorated with Christmas trees and brightly colored Christmas lights known locally as ‘pepper lights’ and even local taxis are decorated. Christmas Eve festivities include singing, dancing, and every town has food and toy vendors gathered – this is called the “Gran Market” and is one of the biggest days of the year for children and is a cross between a festival and a market. The best Grand Market in Jamaica is found in Linstead, St Catherine. Celebrations at the Gran Market are enjoyed well into the morning hours, with some attending Midnight Mass. Gifts are then exchanged over dinner on Christmas Day.
‘John Canoe’ / Jonkanoo – December 24th: One of the highlights of Christmas Eve in more rural areas – people dress up and wear masks while dancing through the streets to music. The tradition came to Jamaica with slaves from Africa.
Christmas Day – December 25: Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country in the world and so Christmas is one of the most important religious and cultural celebrations. Christmas Mass in Jamaica is a joyous celebration with steel drums and reggae versions of popular Christmas songs being sung – definitely worth leaving the resort to attend and experience.
Boxing Day – December 26: A public holiday and in Jamaica the day is remembered as being the day when it was British tradition to give servants a “Christmas Box” and a day off to spend with their families. In Jamaica, Boxing Day is also a time to remember the people who have volunteered, served and provided invaluable services during the year. Boxing Day also marks the beginning of the theatre season, in particular, the National Pantomime season. Boxing Day is when the annual Christmas Show, ‘The Upsies and de Downzies’ is held by the Little Theatre Movement – the longest running theatrical production company in Jamaica. For dancehall fans, the famous show ‘Sting’ also takes place on Boxing Day.
New Year’s Eve – December 31: Also known as ‘Watch Night’ since many stay up late in order to see the start of the New Year. Church attendance in Jamaica is considered by many as a good way to start the year – a party or ‘session’ is the next stop for many after leaving the church. The Urban Development Corporation puts on a huge firework display at the Harbour in Kingston with approximately 250,000 people gathering to watch. The best spot to view the sensational fireworks display in Kingston is Ocean Boulevard. The harbor also has a kid’s play area, craft village, and a stage show.