Barbados Festival Fever is in the air all year round with a host of music, arts, theatre and food festivals to choose from.
Imagine watching your favourite bands on the beautiful island of Barbados, where the blue and yellow national flag reflects the warm, azure ocean and soft, golden sands. Imagine discovering music that lifts your spirits and soothes your soul leaving you buoyed up for the next adventure.
This is the elation of a Barbados music festival.
Calypso and Soca Music Festivals
Barbados is the birth place of many top Calypso and Soca artists. Calypso sounds can be traced back to the seventeenth century when African slaves first arrived in Barbados on the trade winds.
Today many Barbadians live to the beat of Calypso, which became highly organised following the founding of The Barbados Crop Over Festival. The Crop Over Festival is the biggest event of the year, where all Barbadians are given a national holiday and celebrate in style with a colourful carnival.
The chosen Calypso and Soca kings and queens perform on moving floats while their festival participants follow in ‘bands’, creating a vibrant atmosphere as they dance up a festival frenzy adorned in hot colours, minute bikinis, dazzling sequins, fabulous feathers and beautiful body paint. This is one party not to be missed!
Pop and Rock Music
Pop festivals are attended by locals and tourists alike and are often a glitzy, glamorous affair. Breakfast in Barbados, for instance, has showcased the likes of Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Bare Naked Ladies, New Kids on the Block, Jann Arden and the charming Michael Bublé in beautiful settings such as the grounds of an illustrious plantation house.
In addition, the alternative indie and rock music scene is growing on the island. Many up and coming indie and rock bands are on the rise, such as Psilos who perform at various festivals throughout the year including the Virgin Holidays Music Festival.
Ska, Reggae, Dub and Breakbeat
Barbados also hosts vibrant festivals which vibrate to Ska, Reggae, Dub and break beat. The Virgin Holidays Music Festival,; for instance, was headlined by The Dub Pistols. There is also an annual Reggae festival: Reggae on the Hill, which revellers flock to in their thousands.
Jazz and Gospel
Jazz comes naturally to Barbadians whose origins are Africa and Europe, which is where the traditional music that fused together to form Jazz comes from. Jazz was born in the 20th century, and originates from the African American communities of the Southern United States. Barbados hosts an annual Jazz Festival which has showcased the likes of Chrisette Michele, Kenny G, Erykah Badu, Luther Vandross, Alicia Keys, Patti LaBelle and Anita Baker, whilst supporting The Barbados Jazz Academy (children’s workshops given by some of the most renowned jazz masters).
Gospel is alive in the spirit of Barbadians with many Barbadians living and breathing Christianity (Anglican and Catholic). There is an annual Gospelfest at which thousands of Barbadians watch a week of uplifting gospel singing with artists coming from as far as the United States.
Barbadian art has traditional Anglo and flamboyant African influences. The fusion of these two diverse cultures produces unique and high quality art. 90% of all Barbadians are of African descent and most of this group are descendants of the slave labourers on the sugar plantations (Source: Wikipedia.)
One of the biggest art festivals in Barbados is The National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) at which Barbadians of all ages showcase their talents.
Barbadian food is sweet and/or aromatic due to the use of herbs and sugar that grow naturally on the island. A traditional seasoning here is ‘Bajan seasoning’ which is a fusion of thyme, marjoram, green onions, parsley and more. There is also an abundance of freshly caught fish to choose from on the island due to the surrounding warm waters of the turquoise sea.
Barbados’ national dish is ‘Cou Cou and Flying Fish’. Cou Cou is peppers and okra in a hot sauce. Another key ingredient in Barbadian cooking is rum. If you’re here at Christmas don’t forget to try the local Christmas cake, made with that special ingredient. You can sample mouth watering traditional Caribbean food and drink at the Barbados Wine, Food and Rum Festival.
Dance is a strong part of Barbadian culture whether it is African dance, ballet, jazz, tap, free form or modern dance – all genres can be found in Barbados. Dance in Barbados is often a part of a child’s early education. Many of the primary schools on the island have dance as part of the curriculum, or as a strongly suggested after school activity for the students. Dance is an integral part of many of the festivals here including The Crop Over Festival.
Theatre, Comedy and Classical Music Festivals
Perhaps one of the most glamorous festivals on the island is Holders Festival, which is a two week programme of theatre, comedy and classical music. Top actors and performers from London’s West End and New York’s Broadway wow the elegant crowd in idyllic surroundings.
Whatever brings you to a Barbados Festival, we are sure that you will find an electric mix of music, dancing, and singing to enjoy. Barbadians are always ready to have a good time and we at Totally Barbados whole heartedly advise you to join in.