Thousands of people flock to Barbados each year specifically to attend a particular event or festival. Events and festivals are a great way to get to experience local culture, and learn about what things are important to the people of Barbados – that is, what things are worth celebrating.
For example, Bajans cherish music, as is evident by the number of music festivals that take place each year. Whether you had originally planned to or not, if there is a festival going on during your island stay, make sure to check it out. Have a little fun, listen to some local music, and sample traditional Bajan fare.
The Holetown Festival is the annual celebration of the founding of Barbados in 1627. It was in February of that year that the first European settlers arrived in Holetown, and the event is now celebrated each February with live music, crafts booths, and food.
Demonstrations of Celtic singing and dancing are the center of the celebration of Celtic heritage in Barbados each May.
After more than 300 years as a British colony, Barbados gained independence in November of 1966. That day is celebrated each year with a parade through Bridgetown, sporting events, religious ceremonies, and street fairs throughout the island.
The top-selling musicians in Barbados are honored each January at the Barbados Music Awards. Categories include Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.
Each January the island celebrates jazz music with a week of jazz concerts that are all a part of the Barbados Jazz Festival. Each concert costs between BD$25 and BD$200. Though the concert has been put on hold for the 2011 season, organizers expect to continue putting on the festival in future years.
Celebrate with the locals...
For two weeks each April the gardens of Holders House hosts an arts festival, with music as it's main focus. Attendees are served wine while they enjoy live music concerts, opera, and theatrical performances. Doors open each evening at 5:30 p.m. for 7 p.m. performances, and tickets run between BD$50 and BD$150.
Gospelfest is the celebration of family-friendly gospel music, held in May. Concerts are held at various locations throughout the island; some are free, while others charge a fee.
Players of all skill-levels can compete for cash prizes at the Barbados Darts Festival, which takes place in November during the Barbados Food & Wine & Rum Festival.
Also in November is the Independence Pro Surfing Soup Bowl as well as the Junior Pro Surf Bowl. Perhaps the most popular surfing events on the island, skilled surfers of all ages flock to the island to particpate in the competition that draws many tourists and locals to the shores to watch in awe.
The Barbados Horticultural Society kicks off each year with a showcase of the seasons most beautiful and exotic plants. The event is held at the Ball Plantation each January and costs BD$20 for adults; BD$7 for children.
The goal of the Caribbean Tales Film Festival is to promote Caribbean-made movies. Film makers, media professionals, and lovers of film join together for a week in March for film screenings, seminars, and star-studded galas.
The Oistons Fish Festival honors the fisherman of the small village of Oistins in April with boat races, fishing competitions, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and lots of seafood.
Barbados celebrates the end of the sugar cane harvest each year in July or August with the Crop Over Festival. This event dates back to the 18th century when Barbados was the leading sugar producer in the world. It begins with the ceremonial delivery of the last crop, and continues on with a parade, crafts booths, food, and the crowning of the festival king and queen – who just so happen to be the most productive can cutters for that season. The Crop Over Festival takes place in Bridgetown.
The entire month of November is dedicated to the arts in Barbados. Creative folks of all ages share with the country their talents. Categories include singing, dancing, drama, music, fine art, arts and crafts, photography, and writing.
One weekend each November, several hotels and restaurants host the Barbados Food & Wine & Rum Festival. During the event, chefs from the island, and around the world, put together some of their best dishes for guests to sample.
Many more events and festivals may pop up at any given time during your island stay. Check with your hotel's concierge or the local newspapers to determine what exactly is going on during your vacation. Celebrate with the locals, and make an everlasting memory while you're at it.
Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.