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 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.
- What Is the Crop Over Carnival?
- How is Crop Over Celebrated in Barbados?
- Best Crop Over Events for 2018’s Carnival
- Full Calendar and Events
- Are the Parties in a Single Location or Are They all Around the Island?
- Best Crop Over Outfits
- Best Carnival Shore Excursions and Cruises in Barbados
- The Grand Kadooment Day in Barbados
- Are the Streets Closed for the Events? Can You Still Drive During Crop Over?
- When Is It Recommended to Use a Car During the Festival
- Is Crop Over Safe
- What Should You Know if You’re Going to Drive in Barbados for the First Time
- Hire a Car and Drive Along the Island
- Closing Thoughts
What Is the Crop Over Carnival?
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.
Crop Over Barbados and Its History – How this Celebration Changed During the Time
The Crop over practice started back in 1687 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.
What Does Crop Over Festival Symbolize?
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.
How is Crop Over Celebrated in Barbados?
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 find parties 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.
Best Crop Over Events for 2018’s Carnival
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 of August.
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.
Activities for Kids
Junior Kadooment at Kensington Oval
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.
Full Calendar and Events
The events start on the 25th of July and end on the 8th of August.
Best events in July (starting with the 25th of July)
- Soca Inferno ft Hypasounds – the 25th of July
- Shameless Cruise – the 27th of July
- Gimme Soca – Omnia – the 27th of July
- Cooler Vibes – the 28th of July
- Pier Pressure – the 28th of July
- Splash Pool Party – the 28th of July
- UV Vibe Ohana – the 29th of July
- Oh Ship – the 29th of July
- Bacchanal Road BIM – the 29th of July
- Nudes Barbados – the 29th of July
- Greenflash Cruise – the 30th of July
- Mojito Monday Night Mas – the 31st of July
- Panache – the 31st of July
- Bucketfest – the 31st of July
Best events in August (ending the 8th of August)
- Soca Cruise – Bikini Sunrise – the 1st of August
- Fyah De Wuk – the 1st of August
- Sundown Cooler Party – the 1st of August
- Ruk-a-Tuk Breakfast Cruise – the 2nd of August
- Silent Morning Crop Over – the 2nd of August
- Lush Cooler Experience – the 2nd of August
- Lifted – Levels – the 2nd of August
- Afloat Soca Cruise – the 2nd of August
- Jabnival – the 2nd of August
- Mimosa Ultra Premium Breakfast Party – the 3rd of August
- Medz Crop Over 2018 – the 3rd of August
- Candy Coated Barbados – the 3rd of August
- Tribe Ice Barbados – the 3rd of August
- Roast Cruise – the 3rd of August
- Caesar’s Army Ambush – the 4th of August
- Scorch Cooler Cruise – the 4th of August
- Bliss – 4th of August
- Wuk up in White – the 4th of August
- Jalapeno Sunrise – the 5th of August
- Mist – the 5th of August
- Scorch Breakfast Jam – the 5th of August
- Brek-Fus – the 5th of August
- Limerz Cruise – the 5th of August
- Wuk Unda Booze Cruise – the 5th of August
- Soca Brainwash – the 5th of August
- G R A N D K A D O O M E N T – the 6th of August
- Suits Cooler Cruise – the 7th of August
- Soca on De Water – the 7th of August
- Revive Barbados – the 7th of August
- Aura SOS – the 7th of August
- Recovery – Kadooment Kool Down – the 7th of August
- BonVoyage – the 8th of August
Are the Parties in a Single Location or Are They all Around the Island?
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 Parade Route (Float/Cart)
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
- Traveling through Bridgetown
- Via Broad Street
- Finishing at Independence Square
Kiddies/Junior Kadooment Parade Route
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
- Parading through National Stadium
- Traveling along Codrington Road (Stadium Rd)
- Turning left at Traffic lights onto Spooners Hill
- Traveling Spooners Hill towards Lawrence T Gay Memorial School
- Ending at Lawrence T Gay Memorial School
Foreday Morning Jam Parade Route
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
- Travel Hinck Street onto Princess Alice Highway
- Continue along Princess Alice Highway onto Harbour Rd
- Traveling along Harbour Road passing Elsie Payne Roundabout onto Holborn Circle (traffic lights @ Kensington Oval)
- Turn left at Holborn Circle (traffic lights) onto Spring Garden Highway
- Travel along Spring Garden Highway
- Finish at SBI Distribution Inc. on Spring Garden Highway
Grand Kadooment Day Parade Route
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
- Enter National Stadium through the Nova Scotia Gate
- Parade through stadium for judging
- Exit stadium at the Jaycee’s Gate (north end/by Lumber Company)
- Continue pass Combermere School.
- At Waterford junction – Take the right onto Waterford/Station Hill.
- Travel Station Hill towards Eastmond Corner.
- At Eastmond Corner junction (traffic lights) – Take a right onto Bank Hall main Road.
- Travel Bank Hall Rd passing Bank Hall Cross Roads (traffic lights)
- At Bank Hall/Eagle Hall junction (traffic lights) – Continue straight over to Black Rock main road.
- Travel Black Rock Rd continuing to Frank Worrell roundabout (bottom of University Drive/Hill)
- Turn left onto Spring Garden Highway (1st exit at roundabout)
- Finish along Spring Garden Highway
Best Crop Over Outfits
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.
Best Carnival Shore Excursions and Cruises in Barbados
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.
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.
The Grand Kadooment Day in Barbados
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.
Barbados Kadooment Day history
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.
Barbados Kadooment Day traditions and activities
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.
What is Aura Crop Over
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.
Are the Streets Closed for the Events? Can You Still Drive During Crop Over?
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:
Foreday Morning Jam
For the Foreday Morning Jam, take notice that the following roads will be closed to traffic:
- Bay Street from its junction with Jemmotts Lane
- Crumpton Street
- Constitution Road
- John Beckles Drive
- Bridge Street
- Independence Square
- Wharf Road
- Harbour Road
- Spring Garden Highway
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.
Grand Kadooment Day
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:
- Station Hill Road
- Bank Hall Road
- Eagle Hall Road
- Black Rock Main Road to the Frank Worrell Roundabout
When Is It Recommended to Use a Car During the Festival
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 Grand Kadooment Day
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.
Is Crop Over Safe
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:
- Don’t expose your money
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry and jewelry that attract attention
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers; drink only beverages from the employed staff
- Use a disposable camera
- Always have some form of ID with you
- Always have the name, address & number of where you are staying with you
- Always have a cell phone with you
- Always have the name & number of a reliable friend/Person or taxi service with you
What Should You Know if You’re Going to Drive in Barbados for the First Time
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.
Hire a Car and Drive Along the Island
Since you are in Barbados, take advantage of the moment and visit everything the island has to offer.
Here is a map with the full itinerary:
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! Give us a sign and we will pick you up from the airport!
Photo Credit: Kevin Bailey of Barbados – contact # (246)-244-2438