When we chose to holiday in Barbados this year, we did so with no expectation at all – more that we wanted to experience something a little different.
We certainly haven’t been disappointed. In fact we have all fallen in love with the place.
What we hadn’t bargained on was being there for the biggest celebration of the Bajan calendar year – Crop Over.
We give grateful thanks to the wonderful Bajan staff in our hotel (Tamarind by Elegant Hotels) who shared so much information with us about Crop Over 2015.
What was staggeringly apparent throughout our holiday was the warmth and sincerity of the Bajan people. They genuinely want others to share in and enjoy their culture and will do anything they can to help achieve this.
The Crop Over festival has been around since the 18th century at a time when Barbados was at its prime in the production of sugar cane.
At the end of the sugar season, there would be a huge celebration to mark the end of the successful harvest. A King & Queen, the ones with the most successful harvest of the season were crowned.
From the array of events on offer during our stay, we chose to attend the Pic O De Crop final and Grand Kadooment, the carnival itself.
Grand Kadooment is the name given to the carnival that takes place on the Bank Holiday Monday. This year the carnival comprised of some 22 large bands dressed in costumes that depicted their various themes. There are various ‘Monarch’ prizes at stake on the day for the various bands, song, designs and many more.
With The Kid in tow we were advised to take in the action at the National Stadium where all of the ‘bands’ parade before the judges prior to taking to the road. This gave us a birds eye view of all of the wonderful costumes.
One of the important phrases to learn in Bajan culture is ‘jumping up’. Jumping up refers to dancing as in Calypso and Soca style.
Each of the bands are made up of various sections for example ‘Marine Life’ – was made up of various types of sea creature ie (Flying Fish). The colours and the costumes are a sight to behold. The work that has gone into creating these wonderful designs and the ideas for the costumes is nothing short of amazing. I have tried to include as many pictures as I can to try and recreate what we saw – short of actually being there.
If you can imagine Soca & Calypso music playing while drinking Mount Gay Rum then you are pretty much there in spirit!
For this bank holiday, the rain came and it poured and still they danced.
And then the sun came back out …
As the parade in the stadium drew to a close, we took in a little of the street carnival to soak up some more atmosphere on our way back to the hotel.
As we walked along street we saw that many items had been discarded and many feathers shed and we collected them from the floor. We were subsequently told that this is not unusual and that usually by the end of the day the carnival revellers will have de-robed of most of their finery.
I mentioned Monarchs earlier and one of the specific prizes on carnival day is the ‘Road Monarch’. This is when songs are judged on their popularity and the response from the revellers by judges along the route of the parade.
This years winner was unsurprisingly (even to us) Peter Ram with Ah Uh We (means All of Us/We Are One – that kind of thing). It was the song of the holiday and had such a catchy tune, it just made you want to “jump up” every time you heard it.
Have a listen it will get you jumping too!! The chorus line is towards the end of the clip.
In fact, that is precisely what the entire Duty Free did in the airport when it came on – staff and travellers alike. It’s not often you have that much fun at the departure gate.
If we do nothing else this year, it won’t matter. This will have been enough.
Experiencing this wonderful island and its beautiful people is the stuff that memories are made of.
This one will certainly be going on our memory wall.
I will talk more about the Pic O De Crop Final in my next blog.
Would love to hear what’s going to be going on your memory wall this year x