The St. Kitts Music Festival is a festival of popular music held annually in June on the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts. The Festival was originally called the Shak Shak Festival, and was first held in 1996. The first Festival featured Arrow, Nigel Lewis, Roy Cape Band, Krosfyah, Nu Vybes and the Small Axe Band, as well as the Su Wen-Ching Chinese Ensemble.
In 1996 the Government of St Kitts and Nevis, realizing the need to create an activity that would enhance the tourism product and strategically position the Federation as a major tourism destination in the tourism marketplace, particularly during the off season (May - October), collaborated with private sector entities and a host of dedicated volunteers to present a festival of internationally acclaimed music appropriately referred to as the St Kitts Music Festival.
To establish a world renowned (annual) festival of different genres of music, that would attract broad based international participation, expose artistic excellence and promote St Kitts and Nevis as a major tourist destination.
In fulfilling the mission the following important goals will also be achieved:
1. The enhancement of the Tourism Product.
2. The creation of a unique product which will be of economic benefit to the people of the Federation.
3. To expose local and regional audiences to international musical forms and culture.
4. Create an environment to provide a stimulus for the growth and development of local artistic talent.
The St Kitts Music Festival has earned the reputation of being the most diversified musical show in the Caribbean by blending rich exciting music with exhilarating performances. Since the inception of the festival we have had many renowned entertainers performed Center Stage, thus facilitating many successes that mirrored the festival’s main objectives. Included in the list of entertainers have been such artistes as Brian McKnight, Shaggy, Xtatik, DMX, Hugh Masekala, Dennis Edwards & The Temptations Review, Chaka Khan, Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, Masud Sadiki, Eve, Ashanti, The Grand Masters, NuVybes, Busta Rhymes, Culture, Freddie McGregor, Carlene Davis, Dru Hill, Yolanda Adams, KC & Jo Jo, Crucial Bankie, Dennis Browne, Bobby Caldwell, Kool & The Gang, James Ingram, Peabo Bryson, Joe, Percy Sledge, The Manhattans, Morgan Herritage, Arrow, Sparrow, Destra, Ginuwine, Buju Banton, Nas, Kenny Rogers, Machel Montano & Xtatik, Rupee, Stalin, David Rudder, Doug E. Fresh, Ludacris, T.O.K., John Holt, T.I., Boys ll Men, Wyclef Jean, Atlantic Starr, Pieces of a Dream, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Barrington Levy, Lady Saw, Sean Paul, Ne-Yo, Michael Bolton and Big Boi of Outkast to name a few.
Perhaps our greatest success story is our volunteers. The festival energizes our people to support a project that has evolved into something worth while and positive and one that favourably impacts all sectors of the economy. The invaluable contribution of our volunteers over the years has helped tremendously to place the seal of success on our National efforts and for this we are profoundly appreciative.
The results of several Economic Impact Assessment Surveys carried out for the St Kitts Music Festival supports the already established view that the festival provides much economic benefits to the economy as it contributes to the boosting of airlifts and improvement of hotel occupancy levels during the month of June.
Such obvious returns on an investment in growth and development of our musicians and artistes combined with the tourism promotional benefits to our country, and the economic spin-offs generated by the St Kitts Music Festival testify to the insight and genius of those who pioneered the path to its genesis!
The Ministry and the Executive Committee are rightly convinced that the combined energies and goodwill of organizers and corporate sponsors are the catalysts that create economic activity and results in impressive overall benefits to the country.
Increased collaborative efforts by the Festival Committee and private sector entities can create even greater returns on investment and will take the festival to a totally high level in the entertainment industry.
We are confident that the international and local popularity of the St Kitts Music Festival provides an excellent opportunity for returns on investments through the promotion of products and services locally, regionally and internationally.
From the inception of the St Kitts Music Festival it was fully recognized that as a tourism project our goal should be to entice visitors to extend their trip beyond the festival period or at the very least ensure that their experience in St Kitts is unforgettable. One vital ingredient that was and is necessary to accomplish this task is that of Fringe Activities. These are intended to compliment the activities of the Main Stage during the festival. Though the Fringe commenced very early in the history of the festival it was organized in a limited way. Today, however the Fringe includes Lunchtime Concerts that primarily feature the talent of local musicians and other cultural performers, Caribbean Beach Parties, Scenic Railway Tours, Boat Rides, Slam Dunk Contests and Official After Parties. It is our view that these activities are best organized by the Private Sector and should be encouraged to flourish as these are integral to the effort to encourage festival goers to visit earlier or remain on island later than the festival period. The increase visitor arrivals (patrons of the festival) generate additional income and serves to stimulate the economy.