Charleston Carifest brings Caribbean celebrations to the Lowcountry

Audrey Antrobus from St. Vincent dances at Charleston Carifest in 2011.

If you peel back the many layers of Charleston’s cultural history, you’ll find more than a few influences brought over from the Caribbean islands. The architecture on South of Broad, the soul food, the rhythmic music, the religious celebrations. These Lowcountry signatures are all tied to our Afro-Caribbean roots. So it goes without saying, the Holy City has plenty of reasons to honor Caribbean American Heritage Month. One of the biggest festivals of the year to mark the occasion is Charleston Carifest, a four-day celebration with parades, parties, costumes and religious ceremonies. Here are some highlights of the festival this year.

The Mardis Gras Party starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the International Longshoremen’s Hall at 1142 Morrison Drive in downtown Charleston, where there will be food trucks and a beer and wine bar. Tickets are $10 and costumes are encouraged.

The street parade is one of the most festive events of the weekend with costumes, dancing and authentic music. It starts at 3 p.m. Saturday on John Street, and will make its way north up King Street toward Sumter Street, then Hagood Street, with a finale at Brittlebank Park. Grand marshals this year are the Trinidad ambassador to the United States and the consulate general from Miami.

The weekend wraps up with a Caribbean Church Service at 11 a.m. Sunday at Grace United Methodist Church, 1601 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.

For more info: 800-774-0006,