Dance beneath melting sunlight adorned in vibrant feathers, rum and coke in hand and become lifelong friends with strangers - that is the Crop Over experience in Barbados. In Barbados, we have festivals year-round but Crop Over in the summer is grandmaster. Our Holetown festival is in full bloom during February and for those on the South Coast Oistins Fish Festival is a culinary event to tantalize your taste buds and in November Barbados’ Food and Rum Festival continues our celebration of food…Barbados may be small, but we have a lot to celebrate! When planning your holiday adventures, your trip can be made more enjoyable by taking into account these delightful Bajan festivals.
Barbados Crop Over Festival
What is Barbados’ Crop Over Festival? Crop Over is laughter, parades, sweet soca and unity. Easily the biggest festival on the island, its events span from mid-July to early August. It celebrates the cutting of the last canes, as in Barbados’ history, the island was once a sugar-producing island under colonialism. The festival began with crowning the King and Queen of the harvest (normally persons who were the most productive during the sugar cane season). However, after emancipation the sugar cane industry declined and so did the festival-however in 1974 it was reintroduced and merged with music, dancing, costumes and storytelling characters to make-up the vibrant and rich festival today, which attracts persons from all over the world!
Key events of the festival are Bridgetown Market, Kiddies’ Kadooment, Foreday Morning and Grand Kadooment.
- Bridgetown Market is a family favourite, where sweets, treats and all things Bajan are displayed for sale, allowing persons to traverse stall after stall to acquire arts and craft, local food and beverages, toys, clothing - whatever your heart's desire it is possible that you might find it there. Sweet soca rhythms set the backdrop to your shopping igniting the festival fever.
- Foreday Morning ( similar to J’ouvert in Trinidad & Tobago) occurs in the wee hours of the morning but is known as a night parade. It begins after the Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso Competition winner is announced and is the anticipatory event to Grand Kadooment, which culminates the festival. Revellers sing, dance, jump and wave, blissfully behind decorated trucks playing all the seasons best music. This ‘jump’ can get a bit messy as partiers covered themselves in mud, powder and dye as a part of the festivities. The event begins in Bridgetown, continues along Princess Alice highway and culminates at the Mighty Gryner (previously Spring Garden) Highway.
- Grand Kadooment is the final masquerade event of Crop Over, considered one of the biggest Caribbean Carnivals with over 15,000 persons participating. Revellers traverse the streets starting at the National Stadium and party along a route that ends again on the Mighty Grynner highway. Soca music, moving bars, brilliant costumes and non-stop partying creates a parade that will leave you anticipating the next season! Considered the greatest cultural showcase of the season, Grand Kadooment is highly anticipated by journalists, the local and international media, celebrities and locals alike.
- Children are not left out of the parade - Kiddies’ Kadooment celebrates childhood creativity and makes kids feel included as they can’t participate in Grand Kadooment. The event is designed to celebrate them and the skills of local designers; at Kiddies’ Kadooment you can be sure to enjoy the spectacle of young ones in intricate feathers, sequin, and bright-coloured clothing.
For a taste of history and Caribbean culture, enjoy Barbados’ Holetown Festival in February. It is a West Coast event in St. James and usually occurs from roughly the 16th of February to the 23rd. It is a whole-day festival, taking place from 10 AM to 8 PM each day. Holetown is the location of the first English settlement in Barbados, and this week-long festival commemorates that event. You will be introduced to key elements of Barbados’ culture through singing, street parades and stalls in the Holetown market offering delicious Bajan cuisine. It is definitely a community affair, so as a visitor you will feel warm and welcomed by the spirit of Barbados as you take part in some key events such as the Opening Gala and Steel band concert, road walk and run, Karaoke and more!
Oistins’ Fish Festival
Flying Fish and Coucou is Barbados’ national dish-but it isn’t the island's only important fish to islanders! Oistins’ Fish Festival is a key part of Barbados’ history and is a culinary delight which takes place every Easter since 1976. Meant to highlight Barbados’ Fishing industry, most dishes are seafood-based such as fish cakes but there are still traditional dishes such as pudding n’ souse. Arts and craft are on full display from the stalls, and the sweet sounds of reggae and soca build an atmosphere of festivity. Enjoy the fish-boning competition and grease-pole climbing competition during the festival-you won’t be able to take your eyes away and all of your senses will be submerged in this culinary atmosphere of tantalizing food, sweet rhythms and delightful festivity.
Barbados Food and Rum Festival
It is no secret that Barbados is the home of rum... Legend says it was discovered by Captain Rumballion during the colonial period. While searching for an empty sugar-cane barrel he came across one leaking a sticky substance, on tasting it, he asked others to try and after deciding it was good, he established shops on Roebuck Street in Bridgetown selling the substance we call rum today. Folklore also says rum was discovered by an enslaved person, who realised the fermented substance made him feel quite good! Although rum’s exact discovery is difficult to pinpoint Barbados is home to Mount Gay and the first rum in the world. As a result, we host Barbados' Food and Rum Festival! The next edition of this festival is tentatively set to occur this October. This is the perfect event for food-lovers, featuring rum tasting and acclaimed and international chefs and mixologists.
Barbados, as a majority Christain-nation, hosts a Gospelfest to celebrate their faith. This is a one of a kind religious festival in the Caribbean and welcomes all those with a love for gospel music. Typically set to occur in May, the primary aim of the festival is to strengthen the regions’ relationship with Jesus Christ and Christianity as a whole, through music. This premium art and music festival is not to be missed as it maintains an exquisite production standard, featuring both local and international artists.
This small island has a lot to celebrate and hopefully you can celebrate with us too! From Crop Over, the Holetown Festival, Oistins’ Fish Festival, Barbados’ Food and Rum Festival and Barbados Gospelfest we have festivals year-round to delight and thrill while immersing you in our warm, friendly Bajan culture. For revellers, music lovers and art enthusiasts Crop Over, Gospelfest and the Holetown Festival are not to be missed, and who doesn’t enjoy food and rum? Oistins Fish Festival and Barbados Food and Rum Festivals are culinary delights you will remember on your flight back home, eager to visit again!