Crop Over is Barbados’ very own Carnival, a festival celebrating the end of the local sugar cane crop harvest – hence its name. Commencing in July, Crop Over lasts for approximately 5 weeks, culminating in Grand Kadooment Day on the first Monday in August. It is a national holiday and without question the biggest party day of the year.
Crop Over’s origins can be traced back to the 1780’s, a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. It was resurrected in 1974 from a multi-decade hibernation that began in the 1940’s due to hardships of the time and the world war. Since then, it has grown steadily into the island’s premiere event.
If you have never experienced Grand Kadooment Day, then you’ve been missing out on one of the island’s greatest parties. A summer street carnival filled with groups of masquerade bands with thousands of costumed revelers dancing, or “jumping up” in the streets to the pulsating sounds of the most popular calypso and soca music. Kadooment is a Barbadian term meaning a “big occasion”.
Colour, culture and heritage (tuk bands, land ship, stilt-walkers), music (calypso, tuk, ring bang and steelpan), alcohol (our local Banks Beer and rum) along with energy, friendly spirited people and fantastic summer weather, are all combined to create Barbados’ ultimate festival.
Some of the highlights of the action packed festival include:
Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the Crowning of the King and Queen of the Crop:
A ceremony where the harvest is officially pronounced closed and the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season are crowed King and Queen respectively.
Weekly Calypso Tent shows: Performances by local entertainers, comedians and calypsonians, showcasing the latest songs of the season varying from commentaries relating to recent local and regional happenings to party hits encouraging acrobatic dance steps and positions.
Daily Fetes: Arguably the most unproductive period on the Barbadian calendar, parties start each day with after-work limes and graduate to full blown bashments by 11:30 pm lasting to day break the next day. Hangovers are a common side effect during the first week, while your body adjusts to the increased levels of adrenaline and alcohol.
Some of the popular places to go to are “Wuh dah da”, “The Ship Inn”, “Harbour Lights” and “The Boartyard”. You can also check with costume bands for their band fetes. Popular ones include Power X 4 and Baje International.
Junior Kadooment Parade and Junior Calypso Monarch Competition: The kids get their own special kadooment as well. There’s a calypso competition and Kiddies Kadooment which is a parade of the little ones “playing mas”.
Pic-O-De-Crop Semi Finals and Party Monarch Calypso competition: From a line up of 18, 7 must be selected at the Pic-O-De-Crop Semi Finals competition to compete against the reigning Calypso king at the Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso competition.
Hosted on the slopes of the untouched Chalk hills of St. Andrew, overlooking the breaking surf of the Atlantic, if you enjoy good music, liming and picnicking this event is for you.
The Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso competition: This competition is strongly supported by locals and is the climax of weeks of performances by the 8 finalists, who will contend for the year’s crown and top prizes.
Fore-day Morning Jump Up: A recent addition to the vibrant blend of festive activities, probably borrowed from Trinidad’s carnival, Fore-Day Morning Jump Up is an early morning “Jump Up”, following the selection of the new King of Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso competition.
It usually starts from the Bridgetown and makes its way to Spring Garden. It is a common practice for participants to paint themselves with oils and body paints. A word to the wise: Don’t wear white or anything you cherish!
Bridgetown Market: Held on Saturday and Sunday, Bridgetown Market is a large, street fair focused on the exhibition and marketing of local art and craft, talent, music, cuisine and beverages. It’s a wonderful opportunity to pick up unique, hard to find souvenirs, art work and sample the rich pool of talent born of the island.
Cohobblopot: The Kings and Queens of the year’s costume bands are given an opportunity to show off their dazzling and elaborate costumes, to the sounds of the latest local calypso hits, while competing for prizes and the titles of King and Queen of the Festival.
Grand Kadooment: The grand climax of the festival; this is a spectacular street procession of bands of costumed revelers, accompanied by huge trucks packing elaborate and deafening sound systems and tons of beverages.