St. Thomas  has the largest Carnival in the Virgin Islands  — it is bold, colorful, and festive. Held in late March and early April, St. Thomas’s Carnival attracts islanders from St. Croix, St. John , Tortola , Virgin Gorda , and even farther afield. The Carnival Village is set up in the large public parking lot next to Fort Christian  in downtown Charlotte Amalie . Admission is free, and there is top-notch live entertainment nightly, plus lots of local food and drink on sale.
The Lionel Roberts Stadium in the Hospital Ground area of Charlotte Amalie is the venue for many of the shows and contests, including a series of calypso contests climaxing with the finals, where the island’s Calypso Monarch is crowned. The King and Queen of the Band is a contest for the most elaborate, colorful feathered costume, and the annual steel-pan concert features the island’s best steel-pan bands. A Quelbe Tramp is held down Main Street, where people dance behind a traditional quelbe band, but the crowds come out for the massive early-morning Jouvert, when soca and calypso bands pump out loud, pulsating grooves.
The climax of the Carnival is the Adult’s Parade (the Children’s Parade, held one day before, features lots of majorettes and children’s steel-band orchestras), which wends from Western Cemetery to the Lionel Roberts Stadium. Ground zero is Post Office Square, the broad stretch of road in front of the main downtown post office, where judges and dignitaries watch the parade on risers. Onlookers line Main Street from early in the day, staking claim to shady spots with foldout chairs and coolers.
Check with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (340/774-8784, www.usvitourism.vi ) for a schedule of the upcoming Carnival. During the fete, check the local papers for details about start times, performers, and parking restrictions.
Another major event, the St. Thomas Yacht Club (340/775-6320) hosts the International Rolex Regatta (www.rolexcupregatta.com ) every March. The Rolex is part of the Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle, which also includes the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta . It is the premier sailing event on St. Thomas ’s calendar.
Other annual regattas include the Martin Luther King Regatta in January, the Scotiabank Regatta in June, and the Columbus Day Regatta in October; all are organized by the St. Thomas Yacht Club.
Every November hundreds of U.S. college basketball players come to St. Thomas for Paradise Jam (www.paradisejam.com ), usually held the week of Thanksgiving.