A pocket guide to Barbados' Crop Over Festival

Royal Westmoreland

The weeks during Crop Over are an excellent time to see Barbados at its vibrant best. The festival is the island’s annual summer celebration which commemorates the end of the local sugar cane harvest. It’s a tradition that goes way back to the 18th century.

Crop Over Festival enjoyed a revival following the end of World War II. The extravaganza now runs for around five weeks between late June and early August, concluding with the Grand Kadooment parade which usually takes place on the first Monday in August.

What can you expect?

Expect a carnival atmosphere. There are lively public celebrations, energetic street parties and plenty of flamboyant masquerade-style costumes. You’ll be able to mix (and dance) with the locals, and get involved with plenty of exciting events across the island.

Depending on the time of your visit, there are plenty of different things to enjoy. Here are a few you won’t want to miss:

Spend the afternoon at the National Stadium

Head to the National Stadium and make a day of it. You’ll be able to experience the best artists and entertainment in Barbados and hear of the island’s most popular music, all while sampling delicacies from across the Caribbean.

Major events like the Cohobblopot (‘a stew of a variety of ingredients’), the ‘Pic-o-de-Crop’ Finals, and the Kiddies and Grand Kadooment take place in the 15,000-capacity arena which regularly draws huge crowds.

Events take place at the National Stadium during the entire festival period. See what’s on in the official calendar (link at the end of the blog)

Look around Bridgetown Market

Held every Saturday and Sunday at Bridgetown Market, it’s the largest street fair on the island. During the festival, the Spring Gardens area is transformed – with hundreds of local people exhibiting a mesmerizing blend of local food, drink, art and music.

It’s not all traditional though, as a car show has been added recently to the ever growing list of attractions.

Best of all, it’s free. Unless you fancy taking home some souvenirs for family and friends.

Get down and party during Foreday Morning

Foreday Morning marks the beginning of the final week of the festival, but to get involved you’ll have to get up early.

It’s a street party with a difference. It begins at around 1am, immediately after the ‘Pic-o-de-Crop’ ceremony when the King of Calypso is crowned.

If the sound of steel drums and calypso rhythms hasn’t woken up your party spirit, the thousands of revellers certainly will.

The parade heads from Bridgetown to Spring Gardens, and lasts until sunrise. It’s a taste of what’s to come during the manic final week and is one of the most exciting events during Crop Over.

But if you didn’t get up in time for Foreday Morning, make sure you’re present for Kadooment.

Bring the party to an end during Grand Kadooment

The start of August sees thousands of people descend on Bridgetown, whether that’s from across the world or from neighbouring Antillean islands. All are eager to let their hair down as the festival reaches its climax, and nearly all are heading for the grand finale AKA the Grand Kadooment.

The event is welcomed by a celebration, and much like the rest of the festival, it involves flamboyant costumes and exuberant dancing as locals and tourists join together.

Grand Kadooment is a day that everyone will enjoy as it’s a national holiday, and of course the day which traditionally marks the end of the most hectic period on the island.

You can experience Grand Kadooment from anywhere in Bridgetown. Get into town early and wander about – take in the sights, sounds and smells as the celebrations hit fever pitch.

Get involved in Crop Over Festival

There’s more to Barbados than stunning five-star beaches. Check out the island’s events calendar too see what’s on.

Keep an eye on our blog and see what this Caribbean paradise has to offer, or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates from the stunning parish of St. James.