Holidays in Barbados: A Festival Guide

During our tenure as tireless – yes, tireless – holiday hunters, we’ve found that as a general rule, true paradise pretty much sells itself. For that reason we won’t bother with the hard sell on why you should visit the idyllic Caribbean island of Barbados (see: pristine, creamy white sands; flawless, bath-temperature water…etc). Indeed, it’s one of those destinations that inspires such fervent covetousness in others that we’re pretty sure you can make everyone in your life hate you passionately just by going on holiday there. Probably.

But it’s not all beaches – oh no! Barbados also has plenty of incredible festivals throughout the year that will keep you entertained if splashing around in crystal clear waters somehow loses it’s appeal. Here are our top picks, and if you fancy a bit of Barbados yourself, hop on over to our holidays page here.

Crop Over Festival – End of July to beginning of August

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Crop Over festival is without doubt the largest and most important festival in Barbados; lasting for around five weeks commencing in July and ending on the first Monday of August, it celebrates the end of the sugar cane harvest in Barbados. The concept behind it is simple: to celebrate the culture, colour, heritage, innovation and exultant attitudes of the local people through lively calypso, tuk, ring band and steel pan music. Plenty of rum, a great atmosphere and unparalleled participation from locals and tourists alike make this arguably the best festival on Barbados!

Holetown Festival – Mid February

Holetown festival commemorates the anniversary of the landing of the first English settlers in Holetown in 1627. The festival is thirty-three years old and the opening ceremony takes place at the Holetown Monument. Highlighting Barbadian art, craft, culture and history, you’ll get to enjoy fashion shows, various sporting events, concerts, and exhibitions, culminating with a street fair that sees hundreds of Barbadian vendors sell wonderful food, plants and craft goods!

Barbados Gospelfest – 17th-25th May

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Initially created by the Barbados Tourist Board, Barbados Gospelfest sees many international, regional and local gospel artists participate in various musical performances. Plus, there’s even a bit of dance and mime on offer for those who prefer physical movement to audio treats! Over the past years, artists like Donnie Mc Clurkin, Kirk Franklin, Alvin Slaughter, Candi Stanton and the like have performed there.

Oistins Fish Festival

Oistins is a fishing town in the south of the island where the signing of the charter of Barbados occurred. This town hosts the Oistins Fish Festival in commemoration of the signing of that charter and also to honour fisher folk in Oistins who have made valuable contributions to the island’s fishing industry. It runs for a week, culminating on Easter weekend with plent of local delicacies on offer, plus entertainment, local craft and music. Main attractions include the fish boning and climb-the-grease-pole contests!

Holders Season – March

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Holders Season is a performing arts festival featuring a variety of incredible performances. Held in the grounds of the elegant Holder’s Plantation House in the western parish of St. James, the festival  The festival is an annual one, lasting for around four weeks in March. Definitely one for culture vultures, Holders Season boasts an impressive roster of music, theatre, comedy, with genres spanning classical, jazz, African blues and Latin guitar music.

National Independence Festival Of Creative Arts – Mid October-Mid November

The National Independence Festival Of Creative Arts was introduced in 1973 to celebrate Barbados’ independence from Britain. The festival showcases the creative genius of the island’s locals in drama, dance, music, culinary arts, visual arts, photography, and craft. Performances and exhibits are judged and prizes awarded for outstanding work. Plus, this one includes the youngsters – schools and community groups are encouraged to participate.

Barbados Reggae Festival – April

This festival lasts for three days and for reggae lovers, its about as authentic a music experience as you could hope to find! Artists from the region and abroad perform here and the highlight is an event called Reggae On The Hill, which is held outdoors at the historic Farley Hill Park and  usually boasts a fabulously lively – and friendly – atmosphere.

Celtic Festival – May

The Celtic festival celebrates the cultures of the Welsh, Irish and Scottish in Barbados. The festival comprises two weeks of cultural music and folk dance. Folk singers and cultural performers from Wales, Scotland and Ireland visit the island every year to share their culture.

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