Bajans take to the streets in an exhilarating display of music and dance during the annual Barbados Crop Over Festival, the largest national festival on the island of Barbados and the largest summer carnival in all of the Caribbean. The Barbados Crop Over Festival is held over five weeks during the summer season, and it’s one of the most exciting times of the year to visit Barbados. The festival, which the locals have dubbed “the sweetest summer festival,” officially begins in late June and continues through the first Monday in August, though some festival-related activities get underway as early as May.
The origins of the Barbados Crop Over Festival date back to the 1780s when Barbados was one of the world’s top sugar producers. The Crop Over Festival began as a harvest festival and traditionally marked the end of the sugar cane harvest in Barbados. As the sugar producing industry declined in the 1940s, so did the festival. It was revived, however, in 1976 and has been the island’s premier cultural event ever since, attracting hundreds of visitors from around the world each year.
In keeping with the tradition of the festival, opening events each year include a ceremonial delivery of the last canes of the harvest followed by the official crowning of the Crop Over Festival king and queen. Often compared to the Carnival celebrations that take place on the island of Trinidad, the Barbados Crop Over Festival features music, dancing, food fairs, cultural events and parties. Calypso tents house much of the live entertainment during the festival and other festival highlights include the carnival-like Cohobblopot show and the festival’s grand finale, the Grand Kadooment, a massive street parade with colorfully costumed dancers and live calypso music.