Barbados: the cultural calendar
Despite its small size, Barbados's events calendar delivers big, with its two hottest festivals coming up during July and August. These cultural highlights showcase the true spirit of the island, proving there's way more to enjoy in Barbados than just sun, sea and sand.
Crop Over (until 7 August)
In early July, Crop Over festival kicks off -- it started more than 200 years ago to celebrate the end of the sugar cane harvest, but is now a massive 5-week extravaganza that's not to be missed. Locals come out in droves, but celebrities also head to the island for a taste of the Bajan vibes -- Rihanna is a mainstay, and Lewis Hamilton and Jourdan Dunn have also made an appearance in recent years.
The main theme of the festival is calypso, and you'll see tents dotted around that host competitions featuring world-class calypsonians. Other cultural events throughout the 5-week run include arts and crafts markets, food stalls and street parties with live music.
On the first Monday in August the celebrations come to a head with a huge blow-out -- the Grand Kadooment. This carnival parade, which warrants a national public holiday, makes its way across the south side of Bridgetown. It's led by enormous bands dressed in carnival costumes to Spring Garden, where the party lasts all night and into the early hours, often culminating with a dip in the sea on Paradise Beach.
CARIFESTA (17-27 August)
The Caribbean Festival of the Arts is a biennial festival that has grown into a world-renowned cultural event that now hosts over 4,000 artists and artisans under the banners of art, music, poetry, food, folklore, theatre and dance. It tours the Caribbean islands, but Barbados is playing host in 2017 -- the first time since 1981!
From 17 August, for 10 days, the Caribbean's cultural scene will focus squarely on Barbados -- the theme this year is “Asserting Our Culture, Celebrating Our Selves”. This theme will resonate through a programme of performing and visual arts, as well as fashion, food and literature.
This year's festival will feature its first-ever mega-mall, exclusively selling products created by local and regional entrepreneurs and artists.