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Top 5 festivals in Barbados

Ask anyone who’s been to Barbados what they loved the most and they will say; ‘the people’. Barbadians are known for their warm and welcoming disposition, love for life and sense of fun. There’s no better way to get a feel for Barbados’ vibrant Caribbean Culture than to see how they celebrate during the many festivals that they host each year. With colourful costumes, marching bands and street parades – it’s impossible not to get swept up in the infectious atmosphere. Read on to discover the top five festivals in Barbados. Crop Over Festival June to August each year marks the end of the sugar cane harvest and brings about the biggest date in the Barbados calendar, Crop Over festival. Over six weeks, the streets of Barbados transform into one huge country-wide celebration with a carnival of extravagant costumes, colourful dancing parades and live calypso music. There are different events every day spanning from family-friendly fairs to art exhibitions and all-night music-filled merriment. One highlight is the Bridgetown Market which occurs on the last weekend of the Crop Over festival. You’ll find hundreds of stalls selling local food, clothes and crafts filling the Spring Garden Highway, as well as plenty of live entertainment including steel pan bands and traditional dancing. Another event that’s not to be missed is Kiddies Kadooment, where the whole family can join in with the colourful costumes, dancing and music that makes this festive period so special. Oistins Fish Festival To celebrate the importance of the fishing trade to Barbados’ culture, each Easter the historic fishing village of Oistins hosts a festival that’s all about fish, food and music. Over one week, you can find a variety of different family-friendly activities to enjoy throughout the day and evening. Perhaps you’ll get an insight into Barbadian cuisine at a live cooking demonstration where you can learn how to prepare classic Barbadian dishes or watch celebrity chefs battle at a cook off. Or, maybe you’ll attend one of the many sea-themed competitions that take place throughout the week. Race to the top of a greasy pole, compete to see who can debone a fish the quickest, see if you’re strong enough to pull a boat to shore, or try your hand at throwing a fishing net the way that Barbados’ fisherman have for hundreds of years. And, no festival in the country would be complete without live steel pan band performances, dancing, gospel music and plates upon plates of freshly barbecued fish. Sandy Lane Gold Cup One of the biggest events to hit Barbados each year is the Sandy Lane Gold Cup where jockeys from all around Barbados and the rest of the world assemble to compete at the Garrison Savannah racetrack in the capital city, Bridgetown. Taking place in March, this event not offers the chance to see some of the nation’s best compete for the title, but also provides a schedule packed full of activities and events. Starting with a colourful, music-filled opening parade, alongside the main event you’ll also be able to attend a selection of mini-sports tournaments, theatre shows and live music performances that are fun for all of the family. Waterman Festival Thanks to its location on the south side of the island where winds and currents are often strong, Silver Sands Beach is a popular destination for watersports such as surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. At the end of January each year, when the winds are the strongest, this fun beachside town hosts a series of watersports competitions that attract competitors from all around the globe, as well as a festival of beach culture to be enjoyed for the people that assemble to spectate. As you watch some of the best in the world tackle the waves you can enjoy the sunshine on the beach and take part in beach-themed competitions like conch shell blowing, eat your heart out at the many food stalls on the shore, and enjoy the sounds of live music. Agrofest To celebrate the importance of Barbados’ agriculture, every February farmers, craftsman and producers from all around the country assemble in Bridgetown for a weekend of entertainment, exhibitions, music and (of course) food. Though this festival is more popular with locals, it’s becoming increasingly popular with international tourists and provides a fantastic insight into how much Barbados values their agriculture and producers. In addition to a beautiful flower exhibition, craft stalls and cooking demonstrations, there are also plenty of family-friendly activities including egg races, sack races and even a petting zoo. Sarah Roberts is Director of Inspiring Travel Company. The Inspiring Travel Company, established in 1974, offers exceptional tailor-made luxury holidays and experiences to some of the most elegant and desirable destination across the globe. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts is a Director of Inspiring Travel Company, part of the ITC Travel Group. The Inspiring Travel Company focus on building bespoke luxury holidays and experiences to some of the most incredible resorts, hotels and destinations across the globe. Sarah started working in the luxury Sports travel team before moving to ITC Travel Group’s Chester based travel agency Deva Travel. After three years, she progressed to Head of Sales at Inspiring Travel Company and then Director. She has travelled all over the world but includes Italy, Iceland, India, Bali, Vietnam, USA and Cambodia in her Top 10 destinations.

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  1. Even if you can’t be on Barbados for the Oistins Fish Festival, Bajans don’t need a festival to have a good time! There’s always loads of smiles and good natured banter around the Oistins fish fry ups all year round. Whatever time of the year you go to Barbados calling in on Oistins is a must.

  2. You couldn’t have picked a better picture to sum up the exuberant spirit of festival in Barbados than that lead image. Makes we want to book a ticket now.

    1. You are absolutely right Nick – it perfectly demonstrates the vibe of Barbados and the people.

  3. Wow! The Crop Over Festival seems tempting. If I am not wrong, this is the same festival where a few years ago Rihanna made appearance. Right?
    In 2015, my family especially travelled all the way to Mendoza in Argentina to take part in their much-awaited celebtations of The Grape Harvest National Festival (locally referred to as Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia). Oh the grace of the Reenas (their Queens) parading, the energy of the dancers, the charming costumes, the vibrant colours and the mesmerizing fireworks- all the details are deeply engraved in my mind. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the festival and this year again they are insisting to participate in a similar event. What a co-incidence that I came across this article just in time when I was planning to look up for some of the best crop harvest festivals. And now definitely going to search more about Barbados!
    Also, a question do celebrities make appearance every year? If so, then it is definitely something worth-attending to!

    1. Oh yes, you’re right! I hadn’t realised it was the same festival but I’m pretty sure Rihanna goes almost every year because it’s her homeland. I’m not sure if there are other celebs that feature there per se, but I could be wrong.

  4. We all know about Crop Over, which nowadays is so huge, that it’s got quite an international reputation but I think very few of us have heard of Agrofest. One to watch and to see if it becomes more than just a festival for the locals.

    1. I’m sure that Agrofest will continue to grow (excuse the pun), especially given the time of year and the great offers that might exist for visiting Barbados.

  5. The Crop Over piece brings back amazing memories. Many years ago my club ran a cricket tour to Barbados and played one game during Crop Over.

    Our generous hosts thought that Rum and Coke was the best way for us to rehydrate during the match. After a few Rum and Cokes it was already hard enough to play against some frighteningly fast bowling but then the local plantation owner started burning off his fields too.

    We got absolutely thrashed in the match but it was a great authentic taste of Barbados.

    1. That sounds like such an incredible experience Nick – one that will never be replicated nor forgotten.

  6. If Crop Harvest Festival is your priority then, you must visit between May to August when you will experience a full party-type atmosphere over the course of two months(make sure to check out on the dates as they change every year). Whereas, all the other festivals take place between December to early April which is like also the best time to visit keeping in mind the weather conditions (as the island is mostly cool and dry during this time span). Rest assured, you will have the time of your life while vacationing in Barbados.

  7. Agrofest is a brilliant idea. Maybe we could take a leaf out of their book because I think more emphasis on valuing our farmers and producers should be made in the UK.

  8. I’d love to visit when the Crop Over fest is on, I think it would be amazing to get swept up in the energy and colour and vibrancy of it all. It makes me think a little of the Notting Hill Carnival, but perhaps on a bigger scale while feeling a fair bit more family friendly than London seems to. I imagine it getting incredibly busy when that’s on though so it’s probably a squeeze to get accommodation around that time.

    1. Hi Gemma, I think because it spans 6 weeks there’ll be plenty of opportunity to find some accommodation that suits what you are looking for.

  9. I can attest to every Barbadian’s hospitality and love for life and fun. Last year I was lucky enough to arrive during the Oistins Fish Festival and I must say that the barbecued fish is just so delicious and fresh, as if it just jumped out of the sea. It’s also very fun to watch the celebrity cook off to better immerse yourself into how they prepare Barbadian’s delicious dishes. Hoping to come back in the future during the other festivals.

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