By default, Barbados is the place where you want to be for relaxation and exotic experiences, together with the serene view and the local food. It’s even better if you arrive here during the Crop Over Festival, the best event Barbados has to offer to its tourists.
Managed by the National Cultural Foundation, Crop-Over showcases the island’s artistic talent across many genres.
Keep reading and find out all the details about Crop Over Festival, from its history to the full schedule, colorful parades, cruises, and outfits. This full guide will teach you everything you need to know from planning to parties and more.
Crop Over Carnival is a six-week festival in Barbados that celebrates the Barbadian culture together with what it implies, from arts to music, food, and traditions. During the carnival, people all around the world, together with locals celebrate from dusk till dawn in a very ecstatic way.
Crop Over Carnival is all about the atmosphere, a combination of senses like nowhere else. You will enjoy the flavors, music, costumes and the sunlight all at once.
The Crop over practice started back in1687 when locals were celebrating the end of the sugar cane harvest. Their tradition was to dance and sing, lead by some musical instruments like banjo, guitar, and triangle, water bottles, and bones. People were also being involved in feasting and drinking competitions, as well as climbing a greased pole.
World War II and its implications for Barbados interrupted the annual celebration, but some locals brought it back to life in 1974, the moment when they introduced other Barbadian elements and created the festival that today reunites people all around the world every year.
Crop Over festival started as a celebration for the end of the most important activity in Barbados: sugar cane harvesting. It all started on the sugar cane plantations back when slavery was legal.
The biggest symbol of this festival is abundance and successfully finishing another agricultural year.
Nowadays, the streets of Barbados turn into the place of celebration. You will meet here the most friendly people, ready to party at any given hour. During the festival, you can also relax on the beach, play games or taste the local food that will surely make your mouth water.
You will findcparties everywhere, but nothing compares to a party on a ship, sailing on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, so if you get the chance to visit Barbados during the Carnival, a cruise is a must.
Here are the main events you should attend in 2018. Find out the highlights and make sure you enjoy them as much as you can. There are various celebrations, especially in the first week ofAugust.
The biggest spectacle is Grand Kadooment, which takes place on August 6, when from 8:30 in the morning costume bands gather at the National Stadium, parade around the track then make their way to Spring Garden Highway.
Tickets are available to sit in tents around the track but to get a sense of the parade from the ground there’s nothing better than taking up a position along the route, as do many Bajans, and feeling the energy generated by the pumping rhythms from the music trucks and gyrating bodies intent on relieving stress levels.
The children have their turn as well, with Junior Kadooment at Kensington Oval on July 28. The children are often more creative in their costumes, using recycled materials and depicting themes that are clear to see, instead of just the glittering beads and feathers which make up most of the adult costumes.
Calypso and Soca, the faster version, are at the heart of the festival. The music is the engine room that drives the whole 6-week celebration. Most of the Calypso tents have come to an end but the semi-finals of the Pic-o-de-Crop competition, in which the Calypso monarch for the year is crowned, take place on July 20 at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium. The finals take place on August 3 at Kensington Oval. The Junior Calypso monarch will be crowned in the finals on July 21, at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium.
The events start on the 25th of July and end on the 8th of August.
You can find parties and events all around the island during the Carnival.
All these will lead to the final day – the Grand Kadooment Day – when the big parade happens. This parade, together with all other parades follow an itinerary.
Crop Over City Fest starts at 10 a.m., at Bridgetown and has a 1 km distance.
Assembling – at Jubilee Gardens, Lower Broad Street/Cheapside, Bridgetown
From Jubilee Gardens
Kiddies Kadooment Parade starts at 9 a.m., at the National Stadium and has a 1 km distance.
Assembling – at National Stadium, Waterford, St Michael
From National Stadium
Foreday Morning Jam Parade starts at 12 a.m. (move off between 1 a.m. – 2 a.m.), at Bridgetown and has a 3 km distance.
Assembling – along Hinck Street & Princess Alice Highway – Bridgetown
From Hinck St. & Princess Alice Highway
Grand Kadooment Day Parade starts at 8:30 a.m., at the National Stadium and has the longest distance: 9 km.
Assembling – at National Stadium, Waterford, St Michael
From National Stadium
The biggest party of the year can’t neglect the outfits.You probably didn’t miss Rihanna’s Barbados Carnival outfits from the past years. Every year, she returns to her home country to party like a real Barbadian.
Even though it is not the most spectacular piece of clothing, shoes are very important during the Carnival. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you will probably walk and dance a lot. Another important accessory is your sunglasses. If you want to protect your eyes during the day, a pair of sunglasses will keep the sun away.
After you made sure you are safe to party, choose your flamboyant costume. Women wear carnival outfits with multiple colored feathers, crystals and minimalist bras and shorts.
The makeup is something you have never seen before. Every woman turns into an authentic work of art, with vibrant makeup and a little excess of glitter and highlighter.
Men’s outfits are not that elaborate, but they are as colorful as the women’s outfits. Shorts and a t-shirt will do just fine, especially to protect your skin from the sun.
You can find a lot of shore excursions on the dedicated websites. In Barbados, you can take advantage of various types of cruises and excursions dedicated to couples, group of friends and families.
There are a lot of things to do on this island, cave tours, scuba diving and safari trips, together with rum and food tasting.
Rent your own car and discover Barbados at your own pace!
As you are on vacation, you should be in charge of your own schedule. Many tourists prefer to rent a car and drive along the island. This way, you can visit the island at your own pace. Drive Barbados offers you a great variety of car rentals especially for your family needs: from mini mokes to jeeps and minivans, every car is ready to serve you during your stay.
Kadooment Day is happening during Crop Over Carnival and is one of the people’s favorite thing in Barbados. It has great importance for locals and they joyfully celebrate it with traditional folk songs and dances in the streets.
People celebrate Kadooment Day on the first Monday of August, so in 2018 it will happen on the 6th of August.
Kadooment Day started back in the days when African people were masquerading all over the village dressed up in their traditional costumes created from bones, feathers, and leaves. Back then, they would offer their first crop to the Gods, so they will help them with their harvest and bring good luck. These offerings were thought to also cast away the bad spirits from the villages.
Kadooment Day is also celebrated in other African countries, and people all around the world have the same devotion for this day. Even the honorable presidents of the countries are involved in Kadooment Day. This event attracts people from all around the world, and Aura is the one to bring everybody together.
In Barbados, there are strict rules during this event. In order to participate, you must register into one of the costume bands and stick to your band during the event. Make sure you register ahead of the event, as intruders are not allowed to participate. Authorities can charge and even imprison people that commit infringe during Kadooment Day.
People are very excited about Kadooment Day every year and they party for two days day and night without stopping. In case you won’t register in any band, you can still watch the colorful masquerade along its itinerary.
Aura is an experience you don’t want to miss at the Crop Over Carnival. It happens during Kadooment Day and is the most expected event at this festival.
During Aura Experience, trucks turn into stages, bars and many more and people team up in bands to celebrate on the roads of Barbados. It is really what you can call a carnival these days.
You must prepare ahead of the experience, team up with a band and order your costume, and before the masquerade start, you must pick your costume up and get ready. Each band gets to be juried before getting on the road, on the Stadium, the place where they also serve the breakfast.
There are some streets closed during some of the parades, but most of the time you can drive with no restriction on the island. It is really recommended to use your rented car or other transportation methods, as the parties tend to be organized in isolated locations.
Here are the roads that will close during some of the parades and events:
For the Foreday Morning Jam, take notice that the following roads will be closed to traffic:
The Spring Garden Highway will be closed to all vehicular traffic from Holborn junction to Brighton junction on Saturday 4th August 2018 from 12 p.m. until 5 a.m. and again on Sunday 5th August 2018 from 12 p.m until midnight.
The roadway along Codrington Road will be closed to all vehicular traffic to facilitate the music trucks parking along that road.
The route from the National Stadium to Spring Garden Highway will all be closed to vehicular traffic including:
You will easily find a car park close to where the events and parties take place, and the big parties have designated car park areas for your safety.
For the main event of the Carnival, the best advice is to either leave your hire car at the hotel and go with your friends or take the minibuses that go to and from the venue. Some other options are taxis and the tour operators that can also provide transportation.
You can also drive your car to the end of the parade, go back to where the parade starts. This way, you can drive the rented car back to your hotel when the Grand Kadooment Day ends.
If you just watch the parade alongside the road, you can drive your car and park it on a street nearby so that when you are ready to leave the said area, you can drive away with comfort ease and go to another area to continue witnessing the parade until you reach the final destination.
Crop Over Carnival is safe, but taking into consideration there will be a lot of people and tourists crossing by, you should pay attention to some safety tips, especially if you engage in the parades:
If you are at Crop Over for the first time and this is your first visit to the island, here are some driving tips that will help you with all the information you need to know.
Since you are in Barbados, take advantage of the moment and visit everything the island has to offer.
If you plan a trip to Barbados, during Crop Over Festival you will truly find the Barbadian atmosphere you’re expecting to find. Here you can experience everything our culture has to offer, from music and food to parties, cruises and beautiful landscapes.
We, at Drive Barbados, are more than happy to welcome you to the greatest party of the year! Arrange for us to and pick you up from the airport!
Photo Credit: Kevin Bailey of Barbados – contact # (246)-244-243