50 Years – Anniversary of Independence

This year (2016), Barbados is celebrating its ‘Golden Jubilee’ 50th Anniversary of Independence with many festive events and activities. Don’t worry if you won’t be here for the official month of Independence (November) – there’s loads of things to enjoy throughout the entire year in the lead up to the big 2016 Anniversary milestone.

This special Jubilee year is themed ‘Pride and Industry, Celebrating 50’ and was launched on 6th January 2016 with a day of celebrations including a parade on land and sea, fireworks and a multimedia concert – ‘Barbados We Come From’.

The afternoon parade through Bridgetown made its way to Independence Square, with a commemorative Broken Trident arriving on board a Barbados Coast Guard vessel. This Broken Trident was part of a nation-wide competition inviting all Barbadians to participate in designing a ‘Barbados at Fifty’ monument. Over this year, the Broken Trident will venture across all 11 parishes of Barbados with specially selected Barbadians proudly carrying it under the theme ‘Our Pride, the Broken Trident’. It ends its journey on the 30th November and will be ceremoniously mounted at the Garrison Savannah.


Did you know?

Barbados also held a commemorative logo competition to honor this special Anniversary and will be used throughout 2016 on all official national communications.


50th Anniversary celebrations throughout 2016

Throughout 2016, there’s a variety of Independence-themed activities every month to reflect and celebrate Barbados’ past, present and future.

The major Anniversary celebrations are organised by the 50th Anniversary of Independence Secretariat however various other local community groups have also put together extra events, not to mention all the usual Crop Over action from June to August; especially themed ‘Barbados at 50: Celebrating our Culture, Showcasing our Pride!’


What can I expect?

During this year (2016), you can enjoy Independence activities like public walks/runs, historical lectures, open days, art exhibitions, theatre productions, fundraising dances, song writing contests, music concerts, cricket matches, and motor sport events, just to name a few!

Barbados’ 50th Anniversary of Independence is bound to be celebrated with style, sophistication, and of course lots of Bajan fun! Organised by individuals, schools, church groups, service clubs and businesses:

National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE)
National Cultural Foundation (NCF)
Heart and Stroke Foundation
— Barbados Museum and Historical Society
Signia Financial Group Inc.
— University of the West Indies (UWI)
Barbados Jazz Society Inc.
Barbados Cricket Association
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Gallery of Caribbean Art
Barbados Marine Trust
Ministry of Social Care


2016 Independence Events of Interest

1 February –- 31 October: – ‘I Pledge’ – Barbadians from all walks of life are encouraged to make an official pledge of positive change to themselves, their community, and their country.

28 April – National Heroes’ Day: –’A Tribute to the Prime Ministers of Barbados’ (Heroes Square, Bridgetown)

18 May: – Genealogy Group: Oral History and Genealogy (Barbados Museum and Historical Society)

11 June: – ‘Jazz in the Yard and Heritage Gala’ (National Cultural Foundation)
27 June: – 6 August – Visual Arts Festival (National Cultural Foundation)

9 July: – Speightstown Market and Pan Around De Town (National Cultural Foundation)
9 July: – Genealogy Bus Tour of St. Peter and St. Andrew (Barbados Museum and Historical Society)
23 July: – Social and Dance (Northern Group of Returning Nationals)
28 July: – 20/20 Cricket Match in honor of the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers (Barbados Cricket Association)

2 –- 5 August: – Diaspora conference (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade)

16 September: – Tribute to the Right Excellent Sir Frank Walcott (50th Anniversary of Independence Secretariat)

16 October: – Through the Eyes of a Child: A Tribute Boy Our Nation’s Youth (50th Anniversary of Independence Secretariat)


November 2016 Independence activities

1 -– 30 November: – National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA)

November (tbc): – ‘Celebrating 50’: Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival

5/6 November: – ’50 Shades of Barbadian Art’ (Gallery of Caribbean Art)

17 –November: – ‘Mirror Mirror, Show me a Hero’ (Frank Collymore Hall)

23 November: – National Concert (Kensington Oval)

27 November: – National Independence Service (Kensington Oval)

28 November: – Prime Minister’s Dinner and Ball – In Honor of 50 Outstanding Barbadians

29 -– 30 November: – Golden Anniversary Spectacular: Inspired, Exalted, Free! (Garrison Savannah)

30 November: – Lighted Float Parade


History of Barbados Independence

In 1966, Barbados historically and proudly claimed its Independence from Great Britain. From the arrival of the Amerindians, to the Portuguese, the Spanish, then British settlement in 1627, Barbados has a rich history dating back hundreds of years.

Barbados remained a stable British colony until the 1930’s; when the movement towards Independence began gathering momentum. The next 30 years saw civil unrest on the island as it fought hard to cut colonial ties through the formation of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and Democratic Labour Party (DLP) political parties, the introduction of income tax and the Minimum Wage Act, and its transition to full internal self-Governance in 1958.

It was then on 30th November 1966 that the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow proudly led Barbados to full Independence. After being a British colony for over 300 years, the Barbados Independence Act 1966 officially recognized Barbados as the fourth English-speaking country in the West Indies to achieve full Independence from Great Britain.

Today, Barbados is still considered an ‘Independent state’ within the Commonwealth Nations however the island maintains its connection to the British monarch, represented by the Governor General and its British-influenced Government, educational and religious philosophies.


Independence Day in Barbados

Independence Day in Barbados is celebrated every year on the historic day of 30th November. It is a national holiday as well as an entire month of cultural events and community activities designated to celebrating the ‘Spirit of Independence’.

The day itself is officially celebrated with a ceremony and parade at the Garrison Savannah where members of local service groups and military units march to salute the nation and commemorate the island’s history.

Note: We have tried to highlight the Independence events that will take place over Barbados’ Golden Jubilee year however our list is not exhaustive. For the complete list of events for 2016, check out the Barbados 50th Anniversary National Calendar of Events as well as our Totally Barbados events calendar to keep up to date with all the celebrations.

Happy 50th Anniversary Barbados from the team at Totally Barbados!

About Totally Barbados (Edit profile)

Brett Callaghan is the founder and managing director of Totally Barbados. I specialize in writing content for the tourism industry for my island home of Barbados. I help companies build strategies to grow online businesses with SMART marketing, advertising, and social media goals.