Even as a half Bajan, I had no idea how crazy Crop Over in Barbados would be. I’ve visited Barbados several times before, but only for family trips. I’ve always had a goal to go for Crop Over with friends and actually experience more of the party/cultural scene, and finally did it this year. It was an AMAZING experience, and probably one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. For those unfamiliar with Crop Over, here is a quick snippet of the history:
Crop Over is a five-week long summer festival and it’s our most popular and colorful festival. It’s origins can be traced back to the 1780s, a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest; hence the festival name - Crop Over. (source: uptownmagazine.com)
The festival has evolved into an event that includes all-inclusive parties and costumes which attract people from all over – although I would say a majority of visitors seemed to be from the UK, which wasn’t too surprising as Barbados is a former British colony.
For anyone interested in attending, here are a 4 tips to get you started:
Plan EARLY: The main parade (Kadooment Day) is the first Monday in August, and there are parties every day leading up to the main event. I recommend going within the last few days of July in order to enjoy the parties and then leaving no earlier than 2-3 days after Kadooment so there’s enough time to relax before leaving the island. I found that flights were reasonable in February, but skyrocketed shortly after, so it’s best to book everything by February/March.
Go with fun people: Crop Over is no joke. There are parties day and night (in the countryside, on the beach, on boats) – and all of them are good and worth going to. Most of the heavily promoted parties are all-inclusive which include food + drinks, and are about $100 USD. So make sure that you go with people that are down for fun so you can enjoy it all. I had no problem with that thanks to my amazing group of friends – C1, C2, C3 .
Learn to LOVE soca: This isn’t a problem for me. I am reggae/soca obsessed. But not everyone is…and that is basically what you’ll be hearing at every party. Not only that, but there are Crop Over songs each year that come out and are played consistently. Before you go to Barbados find the carnival mix online and get used to it. You will be hearing it everywhere! Here’s a good mix: http://djprivateryan.libsyn.com/private-ryan-presents-the-cropover-sampler-2013
Dress for comfort: You are going to be dancing – a lot! Wear comfy shoes and clothes that you can dance in. I regretted the one day I wore wedges. Remember that you are on an island and everything is more laid back.