Annual Events, Activities, and Festivals
January in Barbados kicks off with New Year’s Day, a public holiday to celebrate the start of a new year. New Year’s Day also marks the beginning of the Horse-racing season with races held at the Garrison Savannah.
Mid-month is the annual Barbados Jazz Festival. This festival attracts many internationally renowned musicians who perform for the week at various venues islandwide; culminating in the final event, Jazz on the Hill held at Farley Hill national park. The musicians perform at this beautiful, historical, outdoor setting to an audience who happily sit and picnic under the shade of the trees while listening to the soft live jazz.
The end of January is the Barbados Music Awards, a red carpet ceremony to recognize and reward the wealth of talented musicians in Barbados who are now making their way to the international stage.
February holds the best-known event in Barbados, the Holetown Festival.
This weeklong celebration is an homage to the first English settlers who came to Barbados in 1627 and has been held for the last 20-odd years. It is a mixture of street fairs, theatrical and musical performances, arts and crafts, history, and of course, a beauty pageant. The Holetown Festival is an event not to be missed.
March is full of excitement, starting with the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup horse race, which attracts a crowd from all over the world. This major event comes complete with a fabulous parade and all the beautiful hats that have become synonymous with horse racing the world over.
Directly connected with the Sandy Lane Gold Cup is Holder’s Season, which is an assemblage of music, comedy, and theatre from around the world. This is the one time of year that Broadway comes to Barbados. We’ve even had the pleasure of hosting Luciano Pavarotti for this fantastic festival of the arts.
March also is the month when CHUM FM 104.5 comes from Toronto to broadcast live from Barbados, at their annual Breakfast in Barbados, they fly in top international acts and stage a concert at Harbour Lights Nightclub on the south coast, in recent years we have seen Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Michael Buble, Jann Arden, Hedley, Serena Ryder, and DNCE.
Also in early March is the Agrofest, a two day festival in Queens Park to celebrate agriculture, there is plenty to do, see and taste and is a winner with the children as there are lots of livestock.
April gets started with the Mount Gay / Sagicor Annual Game Fishing Tournament held over the first weekend. April 28, is Heroes Day, a public holiday in honor of all of the Barbados National Heroes.
May is a month of significant sporting events and gets underway with another public holiday. This one is Labour Day, held on May 1. Other than continuing polo, horse racing, and cricket, May also hosts the Barbados Masters and the Barbados Rally Carnival. The Barbados Rally Carnival is a weeklong extravaganza of local and international high-performance vehicles of various class descriptions, racing at different stages throughout the island during the two-day Rally Barbados All-Stage event.
Over the Whitsun weekend, you will find Accra Beach on the south coast plays host to the annual Barbados Windfest, a three-day wind and kite surfing competition.
May is also the month of the Celtic Festival, a tribute to the rather large community of initially Celtic immigrants, which is held in the middle of the month. Shortly after, the Celtic Festival is the Barbados Gospelfest, a premier regional festival of gospel music and culture.
June is the month when Habitat heads up an exhibition of various environmental, construction, home-oriented products and services available from local and regional companies. It is held at the Sherbourne Conference Centre.
Later on, in June, we have the Ms. Island Fitness Pageant and the Barbados International Track & Field Classic hosting local and international athletes competing in track and field events.
Right at the end of the month is the Bajan Unifest University Sporting Festival, which is a weeklong culmination of Hockey, Cricket, Netball, Football, Tennis, and Swimming, held at the university campus as well as various other locations.
July is the beginning of our most significant festival of all, Cropover, and thus, has some major related events that lead up to Kadooment day in August.
The Cropover celebrations start with the Opening Gala held in Queen’s Park, Bridgetown. Pic-o-de-crop semi-finals happen in the middle of the month, with the finals the following week.
Pic-o-de-crop is a competition for the best of the year’s new calypso songs, judged on technicalities by professionals in the music industry, as opposed to the Party Monarch and Roadmarch competitions which are songs chosen by the general public for the best party song, and the song that’s best on the road Kadooment Day.
The last Saturday of the month is Foreday Morning, which is a big street party, held in Independence Square from midnight to sunrise. The following day is Bridgetown Market, a favorite Bajan tradition over the Cropover season.
This is the most prominent street fair of the year, where a significant part of the Spring Garden Highway is shut down to motor vehicles and opened up to pedestrians and local artisans peddling their fayre. Local crafts and food are in no short supply at the Bridgetown market; it’s just one big “lime.”
August is synonymous with Kadooment Day, the first Monday of the month, which is the culmination of the Cropover festival, and it’s merely one massive street party.
Various bands, each with a particular theme and dressed in colorful, vibrant, skimpy costumes, accumulate early in the morning at the Stadium.
They cross the stage and perform a beautiful parade celebrating our fascinating culture. The bands are assembled from the local community and foreigners who all want to “jump up” – a term used to describe following the group through the byways and down to the Spring Garden Highway in the continuous parade of colorful costumes and flare.
The procession then ends on the highway, where most of the stalls from the previous Bridgetown Market are still providing delicious fare to feed the masses. This year Emancipation Day Holiday is celebrated on August 1, here we recognize and celebrate the emancipation of the African Slaves brought to our country to work on the sugar plantations.
Later on in the month is the Barbados Hockey Federation Banks Hockey Festival, a week of fabulous hockey played by many international teams from Europe, the UK, and North America, accentuated by Bajan warmth and culture. Also in August is the Barbados Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation Championships.
September is a quiet break after the hectic cultural events of August.
However, it is highlighted by the Sizzlin’ Sand Beach Volleyball, National Tour Open, that includes various local teams competing for the national championship. This goes on over two weekends at one of our beautiful local beaches.
September is also the beginning of the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA), another local festival celebrating the arts.
For three months, various local artists compete in the fields of drama, music, dance, photography, fine art, sculpture, pottery, craft and painting as their talent is displayed at various venues islandwide. The finalists in each category are showcased in one central place throughout November.
October starts with the annual Sagicor Run/Ride for Life, a two-day event promoting health and fitness.
Mid-month, we have the Barbados National Surfing Championships in which local surfers of varying ages and ability compete in different fields for the national championship, a prelude to the international tournaments held in November.
October also hosts the Sun, Sea, and Slams Bridge Tournament and the Blowin’ in the Windies Youth Jazz Festival featuring bands from the UK, Caribbean, USA, and Canada.
Towards the end of the month, there is the Barbados Music Festival, where rock, reggae, blues, and folk bands are flown in from the UK to perform with local Barbadian groups at various venues across the island, this then culminates with all bands playing at an all-day festival.
The month is rounded up with the Home Show held at Sir Erskine Lloyd Sandiford Centre, which is a showcase of all sorts of local products related to building, decorating, and maintaining a home.
November, the month of Independence is appropriately started with the Sagicor Life Lighting Ceremony and Bajan Folk Brew, during which all the decorative lights throughout Bridgetown are lit to signify the beginning of the celebratory holiday season.
The weekend of November 4 and five hosts the Independence Pro Surfing Championships and Banks Pro Long Board Classic at Soup Bowl, which is a two-day major international surfing competition that attracts many of the world’s most famous surfers.
November also has the Sir Fred Rumsey Cricket Festival, National Fun Walk, Barbados Cycling Classic International and Barbados Open Championship Golf. Not to mention, all the various Independence celebrations that go on islandwide such as the Spirit of Independence Tour, the NIFCA gala, and the Spirit of the Nation Show all leading up to Independence Day holiday on November 30.
Rugby Barbados – The Rugby Barbados World 7s 2018 will be held at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown on Saturday, December 8, and Sunday, December 9.
December hits the ground running with the Run Barbados Marathon, 1/2 Marathon, 10K and 4K Walk with runners from over 30 countries entering the competition.
December is also the official start of the Polo season. Polo is a popular and ever-expanding local sport with events just about every Sunday through the season, which runs December through to May.
December is also a very merry month as Christmas approaches. Christmas Day, December 25, and Boxing Day (December 26) are both Public Holidays.
Old Year’s Night, December 31, is a huge party night in Barbados. Most people pull out all the stops wearing suits and evening gowns accessorized by champagne to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of a new one!