Barbados is probably best known for its white and pink beaches, and turquoise blue waters, but our little island also holds its own when it comes to the ultimate Caribbean festival – Crop Over.
During the months of June, July and August, the Barbadian culture comes alive at the island’s summer festival. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy an exhibition of sweet Calypso, mouthwatering food and vibrant costumes. This year, the festival started on May 24 with a Crop Over Thanksgiving Service and ends on August 3 with the “Big Jump Up” Grand Kadooment.
Back in the 19th century, to signify the end of the sugarcane harvest the slaves celebrated with a festival. Today, plantation-era traditions like the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes still live on, and there’s also the addition of soca competitions such as Bashment Soca and Sweet Soca and enough fetes to keep just about anyone satisfied.
The festival climaxes with a visual assault of gems and feathers on Grand Kadooment – affectionately called “Mega Monday” by the locals – when revelers parade the streets in costumes dancing to soca music, partying the day away in complete delight.
If you’re looking to blend in with the locals for Crop Over, here’s what you need to know.
Welcome to the festival’s biggest street fair, Bridgetown Market. Usually held on the last weekend of the season, the entire length of Spring Garden Highway is converted into a hive of bustling activity with colourfully displayed stalls and kiosks. It features all kinds of locally manufactured products including arts & crafts, clothes and hand-made jewelry. You can also enjoy a taste of Barbados with a variety of local foods & drinks on sale. You can especially enjoy live entertainment from the steel pan, Tuk Band, the Barbados Landship, stilt walking and dance groups.
Foreday Morning Mashup
Signaling the start of Crop Over’s street parade, the Foreday Morning Jam begins in the wee hours of the morning, following the Pic-O-De-Crop calypso competition and doesn’t end until the sun comes up. For those revelers who want a more economic option to Mega Monday (and also get away from the blazing Caribbean sun) Foreday Morning is the perfect alternative. Party-goers dance in the streets behind music trucks blaring that sweet soca music, and get downright dirty as paint and powder are dispersed into the crowds.
It’s All In The Hips
When the music starts and the rhythms hit you, the most obvious response is to move those hips or to “wuk up”, as the locals say. It’s really not that hard: all you have to do is move your hips in a circular motion, and if someone is standing in front or behind you – even better.
Tis the Season of Parties
Crop Over isn’t really Crop Over without the fetes. You and a group of friends could party on a boat or on a beach, during the day or at night, or all of the above. The best thing about this time of the year is that there are plenty of options.
Dine Like a Local
Fish cakes are a Barbadian specialty and can be a snack when you’re feeling a bit peckish. Salted cod and hot pepper (scotch bonnet, if you dare) all mixed up in a batter and fried, you can be sure to find these delightful bites just about anywhere – from restaurants to rum shops. There’s also the traditional dish of Macaroni Pie and Fried Flying Fish or the delicious delicacy of Pudding n’ Souse. To see what goes into making these dishes, check out our sister hotel’s blog – Bougainvillea Buzz.
Mega Monday Mania
It’s the time we’ve been waiting for; the climax of the Crop Over festival; the fete to end all fetes – Kadooment Day. Joining a (masquerade) band ensures that you get the full Crop Over festival experience. Bands tell a story through the design and colours of the costumes. These costumes are debuted between May and June, and the more popular bands are usually sold out within in a few short weeks, so it’s best to get a jumpstart on registering for the band you want to jump in.
On Kadooment day, revelers make their way to Spring Garden dancing behind a big music truck playing all the best tunes for the season, and an amply supplied drinks truck serving refreshments from start til finish.
Quick tip: Stay hydrated and drink lots of water. After the big jump up, revelers can take a well-deserved dip in the ocean by the nearby Brandon’s beach.