It might seem like just a summer long party, but the Barbados Crop Over summer festival has serious roots dating back to the 1700’s. The festival was originally a celebration of the end of the sugar cane harvest — at a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. Gradually, as the sugar production declined on the island so, too, did the Crop Over festival, but was then revived in the 1970’s as a summer long festival. Visitors from around the world head off to Bridgeport for a Barbados holiday to celebrate and enjoy the second largest party in the Caribbean. The main festivities occur in July, but are bookended by other activities, making it a festive island to be on all summer long.
Here are a few activities that may tempt you:
- Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes – The official kick off of the festival symbolizes the last sugar cane to be harvested. The King and Queen of the Festival are crowned and traditionally were the most productive cane cutters of the ending season. This year the event will be held on July 2.
- The Grand Kadooment – This raucous parade is the main event of Crop Over and, for some, the parade may seem reminiscent of Trinidad’s Carnival. The Grand Kadooment, however, has a distinctly Bajan flavor, with colorful local costumes, soca music, crazy dancing, and plenty of local food at stalls along the parade route through Bridgetown. Macaroni pie, anyone? This grand event is the conclusion to the summer festivities and this year will be held on August 1. A junior Kadooment (in photo above) will be held on July 23.
- Cohobblopot – The best of the best in calypso stage a battle of the bands performance/competition. If you think is just music, think again; there has long been a strong link between music and politics in Barbados so listen closely to the lyric and the message of each song. This high energy competition will be held on July 31. Get your tickets early as this is a very popular event.
- Bridgetown Market – Wander through the food, art, and craft stalls as you bob along to calypso music and live tuk bands with traditions dating back to time Barbados was colonized by the British. The market is scheduled for various dates throughout Crop Over.
Additional summer long events and activities include folk concerts, art exhibits, and displays representing Bajan history and culture. Calypso tents will be located around the city for both enjoyment and the staging of various calypso competitions leading up to the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals on July 29. There is are junior calypso tents and competitions that start in June.
If you’ve been thinking about spending your holidays in the Caribbean, Crop Over might be that little extra incentive to make the decisions to visit Barbados.
Photo credit: Meg Stewart via flickr