The Only Guide You Need to Survive Barbados’ Sweetest Summer Festival
Rule number one! It’s not Barbados Carnival, it’s Crop Over and your mission is to make it to Grand Kadooment Day!
If these strings of words mean nothing to you, no need to worry because you’re about to get acquainted. Let’s talk about the sweetest summer festival in the Caribbean being held from July 1st– August 7th
So, get your notebook, open your notes app or bookmark this, because this information is key to surviving the 2023 Crop Over festival.
A little History Lesson
But before we start, let’s give you a little history about the festival.
The Crop Over Festival dates back to the plantation era and was a big extravagant celebration organized on the plantations to mark the end of the harvest. During the 1940s, the celebrations dwindled after the Second World War, when the demand for sugar decreased and many plantations around the island closed. An effort was made to revive the celebrations in the 60’s but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80s that a full revival was made and what we know as Crop Over was birthed.
Today, the festival is one of the most diverse in the world as it is a mixture of heritage, creative arts, parties, music and masquerade. Many refer to the festival as Barbados’ carnival because it has many elements similar to a typical carnival. However, Crop Over is more than just that, it’s a celebration of life, heritage and Barbadian culture.
What Can You Expect?
The short answer is endless vibes.
Though the festivities begin as early as May, the festival officially starts on July 1st and climaxes with Grand Kadooment on August 7th.
During this time, the island comes alive with various types of parties, concerts, limes, heritage events and so much more. There are festivities for everyone to enjoy as the options feel endless. The rule is to attend every type of party to get the full Crop Over experience.
So, here’s what should be on your list:
Cooler Cruise – If you don’t go to a cooler cruise then you did not attend Crop Over as the choices are endless. Some to look out for are Oh Ship Cruise, Nudes Tanlines and Escape Cooler Cruise to name a few.
Beach Party – We recommend Lifted Beach or Escape Beach.
All-Inclusive Event – Barbados is the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean so you definitely can attend a fete that is inclusive of the finest cuisine. At Mimosa Breakfast Party or Bliss, you can party, taste the most scrumptious food with the backdrop of the island’s most scenic venues. If you just prefer a premium drinks-inclusive party, then Lost in Paradise is for you.
Live Performance – Great music is what makes the festival special, so if you love a concert featuring the best regional and local entertainers then Dis is Rick, Soca 4.0, Tipsy Music Festival or Rise Barbados should be on your list. You can also attend the Pic-O-De Crop Finals which is a mixture of music and social commentary.
Bridgetown Market – The festival is also about supporting locals and immersing yourself in Barbadian culture, so a trip to Bridgetown Market is a great way to do this. It is considered the biggest street fair of the festival as the Mighty Grynner Highway is lined with various craft stalls, Caribbean/Barbadian musical rhythms and characters, delicious cuisines and street food.
Heritage/Cultural Event – There’s no Crop Over without culture so of course you must attend events like the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes, Crop Over Folk Concert and Pandemonium.
Junior Kadooment – This one is for the kiddies! Junior Kadooment or ‘Kiddies Kadooment’ is a fun-filled event for young masqueraders to parade in beautifully handmade costumes, dance and enjoy their own version of kadooment.
Some other great events are Vibe Land, Fyah De Wuk, We Ting Bim and HYPD.
You can access the official Crop Over calendar here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CrmWLnNLR-A/
Now, the most anticipated part of the festival is ‘Last Lap’. This is the final week of events and can only be described as pace, pace and more pace. It’s non-stop parties, vibes and no sleep, but it’s an experience like none other.
Furthermore, there is no ‘Last Lap’ without Foreday Morning Jam, which is a ‘Jouvert’. This word derives from jou ouvè which literally means dawn in Creole. Foreday Morning takes place on Crop Over Friday and is held in the wee hours through a guided route in Bridgetown. You dance and parade through the island’s capital behind music trucks, with paint, foam, water and sometimes even chocolate being splashed on you. It may sound a little wild but it truly can be an unforgettable experience.
However, Foreday Morning isn’t the only ‘J’ouvert’ held at this time, festival goers also have the choice of more private parties like Native or Mix Nutz.
As we said earlier, the mission is to make it to Grand Kadooment Day, so you must do everything in your power to survive ‘Last Lap’ and make it on the road.
Grand Kadooment is the climax of Crop Over and is held on the first Monday of August. Some refer to it as ‘Mega Monday’ or Kadooment for short but never call it Carnival Monday.
However, similar to a carnival, Grand Kadooment is a big celebration with masquerade bands making their way through a guided route that ends on the historic Mighty Grynner Highway. Some of the most popular bands are Aura Experience, Zulu International, Baje International, Kontact Band and Krave The Band just to name a few. On Kadooment Day. masqueraders are dressed in the most intricate and beautiful costumes filled with sequins and elaborate feathers. Your experience on the road includes dancing behind trucks blazing the best soca songs, food, drinks, security and of course endless vibes.
To be part of a masquerade band you must register prior. We recommend at least two to three months before Crop Over begins, so you can secure your costume.
Crop Over is incomplete without great soca music; it’s a genre that unites people.
Soca may have originated in Trinidad and Tobago but Bashment soca is 100% Bajan and a genre that is now synonymous with the festival.
Bashment soca is known for its infectious beats, witty lyrics and the power to make you behave a little out of character. During the festival, you will hear every type of soca music, as the genre is what adds to the euphoria that is the Crop Over Festival.
So here is a playlist to warm you up!
One word. Confident.
Whatever you choose to wear during the Crop Over Season, wear it with confidence. Crop Over is a celebration and part of that is celebrating yourself.
If you are looking for actual tips on wardrobe, we have a few for you. Crop Over is held during the summer so the temperature is very warm. It’s best to wear breathable clothing made of cotton, linen or jersey.
This is also a time to be creative and expressive so for all the makeup enthusiasts, the sky is the limit. You can draw inspiration from the colour of your costume, local makeup artists and past festival-goers. Some of the local makeup artists are I Heart Makeup 246, Vanity by Krisann, Tresbelle by Tenille and Shauna O Beauty to name a few. To help find inspiration, you can search on Instagram using the hashtags #cropovermakeup #barbadosmua #cropovermua
On Grand Kadooment Day, if you’re jumping in a band, it is advised to wear comfortable but stylish shoes. Heels may look beautiful with Kadooment costumes but they aren’t practical. The route is lengthy so if you want to survive the day, comfortable shoes are the way to go!
Chasin’ De Vibes
We have discussed the events, what to wear and the music. Now on to a very important question. How do you get to Barbados? There are gateways to the island from the USA, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. To plan your trip visit https://www.visitbarbados.org/plan-your-trip
This year, there is even a special for Caribbean travellers who want to experience Crop Over. If you book your vacation between February 13th and July 15th, you can win up to USD $2,500 rebate on your purchase. For more information on this visit https://www.isleawaybb.com/islandcation/
We’ve covered a lot, and you may have experienced a little information overload but if there is one thing you should remember, it’s these crucial tips.
- Stay hydrated and know your limits
- Always have a designated driver
- Listen to the Crop Over Warm up Playlist and learn a few songs
- Leave no crew member behind
- Enjoy yourself and fully embrace Barbados’ culture
So, with all that being said, Crop Over 2023 awaits…
Written by: Rhe-Ann Prescod