Like Grenada, Carriacou is thought to have been inhabited much prior to the arrival of Europeans in the late 17th century. Arawaks and Caribs, descendants largely from the South American mainland, inhabited the island from at least 1000 AD. Before the territory became an official part of the British Empire, alongside Grenada in 1763, it had already experienced French and English occupation, along with the establishment of sugar, cotton and indigo plantations. Over the centuries, a number of estates were built, crops were produced and a culture created, fused from the variety of influence from Europeans, African slaves and mulattoes. As a part of Grenada, it obtained its independence from the United Kingdom on Thursday 7 February 1974.
There are a number of ways to experience the cultural life the island has to offer; as a witness to a traditional wedding or boat-launching event, watching the Big Drum Nation Dance or Shakespeare Mas, or taking part in All Saint Candle Lighting ‘Pass Play’ and Fishermen Birthday Celebrations. The annual Carriacou Regatta is held in the month of August and the boat building tradition (passed down via a Scottish influence) is very strongly thought of on the island, hence the lively boat-launching ceremonies. Tombstone Feast, known to the people as ‘Saraca’, happens three years after death where people come together in commemoration. The Big Drum Dance or Nation Dance of Carriacou, which rings through with African music, rhythm and dance, is widely celebrated alongside other performances known as the Kalenda, Juba, Belair, Granbelair, Hallecud and Bongo, which are danced at weddings, boat launchings, tombstone feasts and Maroons. The Quadrille Dance, which originates from France is the second most popular dance in Carriacou. During a Maroon, villagers come together and cook traditional foods and partake in the big ‘Big Drum Dance’. The annual Maroon and String Band Music Festival is a three-day event of activities that showcase a display of local food, crafts, music and dance.