Why next year will be the year of Kingston, Jamaica

The city of Kingston, Jamaica recently joined Oslo, New Orleans, Egypt, and Menorca as a top destination for culture lovers, according to Condé Nast Traveller, in a recent article entitled, ‘Best holiday destinations for 2022’.

Few islands in the world have left such a strong cultural legacy, and Kingston is the pulsating soul of the Caribbean nation’s heritage and heart. Jamaica is a bewitching, complex nation—the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean—and source of much of the creativity and passion that marks Caribbean politics, art, music, literature and culture. And now, the city’s timeless appeal is finally having its day in the sun.

“It’s validating to see Kingston being recognized in this way,” said Chris Issa, Jamaican entrepreneur, Kingston native and owner of the city’s popular Spanish Court Hotel. “It’s where entire music genres and musical greats have been born; no other city in the world has done this: ska, rock steady, roots, reggae, dub, dance hall and the sound system; Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Prince Buster and so many more.”

While the island is best known for its unique alchemy of perfect beaches and lush tropical topography, its spiritual centers of music, food, art and philosophy make it a cultural destination – and Kingston, in particular, a hive of innovation.

Issa continued, “From our world-famous Blue Mountain coffee, diverse restaurants, bars and street food vendors, iconic beaches, waterfalls and mineral baths, to hiking and biking trails, carnival, food and music festivals, concerts and sporting events, Kingston has it all. Our capital’s cosmopolitan mix of people is constantly intermingling with family and friends from all over the globe and spreading our unique Jamaican flavor to food, fashion, and music worldwide.”

Kingston also offers sightseeing to historic religious landmarks including churches, cathedrals and synagogues, some dating back to the 17th century, and to modern-day music Meccas like the white-hot Dub Club, deep crate-digging at Rockers International Records or the city’s must stop at Tuff Gong Recording Studio and the Marley Museum. The city is also home to various medical marijuana dispensaries and on-trend vegan and Rastafarian eateries.

Herbie Miller, Cultural Historian and Director of the Jamaica Music Museum added, “Kingston is arguably the cultural capital of the Caribbean. Its global reputation as a creative space, particularly for music, has earned it not only the UNESCO designation of a creative city of music, but also an inscription on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in recognition as the birthplace of reggae as an indigenous musical form.”

An excerpt from Condé Nast Traveller reads:

“Jamaica’s beating heart has remained somewhat overlooked by holidaymakers, not least because of its long-held rough-around-the-edges rep. But the dynamic capital is shrugging off its unsafe image, claiming a new identity as a spirited cultural hub overflowing with multicultural restaurants, world-class galleries and carnivals to rival the spectacles of Rio.

And 2022 poses a prime opportunity for Jamaica, as the year marks the country’s 60th anniversary of Independence. Festivities will be held throughout the island all year and, come August, the Jamaica Carnival (Bacchanal) will flood the streets with feather headdresses, floats and stirring steelpan drums.

Out of town, hidden cultural enclaves cling like limpets to the land. School of Vision – an active commune and guest house celebrating Rastafarian culture – is reached via a short, sharp trek into the Blue Mountains; visit on the Saturday sabbath and you’ll be welcomed by a glorious cacophony of Nyahbinghi music, dancing and drumming.

Kingston’s surf beaches are also luring in ahead-of-the-curve crowds. Sidestep the no-longer-golden Hellshire Beach to the west and busy Bull Bay to the east and instead join those in the know on the fine-milled sands lining the north coast. Runaway Bay, near the resort town of Ocho Rios, is a fine spot for medium-level surfers and, if you can navigate the pesky corals and urchins, Makka beach, which hosts the island’s only pro surfing contest, offers world-class tubes. If that prospect is too pedestrian, head to the lesser-known ‘DNA’ nearby. The reef break here produces steep, hollow waves. It’s dramatic to observe, but as a TOAD beach (meaning Take Off And Die), it should only be tackled by expert boarders.”

Where to stay:

The hip, 125-room Spanish Court Hotel serves as a hub to explore Kingston’s cultural renaissance, with a thriving food scene, rich history and of-the-moment music and nightlife. The hotel has long served as a go-to for the city’s movers and shakers flocking to the buzzy Café, chill vibes around the Cabana Pool and the happening nightlife scene at The Sky Terrace complete with a 50-foot infinity lap pool. Accommodations offer the ideal sanctuary with additional amenities including the popular ROJO restaurant serving international and Jamaican cuisine; The Red Lounge; 24-hour room service and Concierge; complimentary WiFi; full-service Zen Spa; and a gym with a private deck. Rates start at $169 USD.

Source: Visit Jamaica

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