Bajan culture on view in Barbados

BRIDGETOWN -- Attending festivals and cultural events is one of the best ways to gain insight into island life.

The band Events range from the music competitions and costumed parades of Crop Over to festivals attracting some of today's hottest stars of jazz, opera and musical theater.

Each event encourages participation among travelers and locals.

The following events are listed in the the Barbados Tourism Authority's 1999 calendar:

  • Barbados Jazz Festival, Jan. 13 to 17, will feature Kenny G; Earth, Wind & Fire, and George Benson. This annual celebration is performed at sites throughout the island.
  • Holetown Festival, set for March 4 to 28, commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of Barbados' first permanent settlers in 1627. Holetown is the site of the first landing, and the area hosts a week of events, including medieval music concerts at churches and contemporary music at local fairgrounds. This blend of old and new is also displayed in folk singing, dancing, sports, games and street parades. At the same time, street markets, fairs and food stalls serve traditional Bajan fare.
  • Holder's Opera Season, April 2 to 5, is performed outdoors at Holder House, a former plantation estate. Holder's season attracts world-renowned talent and emerging artists. In the past, the performances of tenor Luciano Pavarotti and the London Symphony Orchestra here have given this event wide recognition. This year, Peter O'Toole will direct a production of "The Tempest" (Shakespeare's only play set in the West Indies) with the greens of Holder House and the surrounding Barbados Polo Club, overlooking the Caribbean, as its backdrop.
  • Oistins Fish Festival, April 21 to May 1, coincides with Easter. Locals compete in a tribute to the island's skilled fishermen. Fishermen and -women demonstrate their abilities in boning, boat racing and crab racing. Spectators dance to steel pan on the beach and mingle with throngs of islanders in the marketplace and in roadside rum shops.
  • The Congaline Street Festival, May 16 to 23, fills the streets with calypso music and dancing. The event features a daily marketplace for free entertainment, crafts and foods. The carnival's highlight is the Congaline Street Parade, an all-day event dubbed the World's Greatest Street Party.
  • Gospelfest, June 27 to Aug. 5, presents renowned and rising gospel stars from the Americas, the U.K. and the Caribbean during this family series of back-to-back performances.
  • Crop Over lasts throughout July and August and culminates with a celebration of the final harvest of sugarcane. That includes a fierce competition of calypsonians for the coveted Calypso Monarch award, and Bajan cooking highlights the Bridgetown Market street fair. The traditional crowning of calypso king and queen is followed by Kadooment Day, which brings costumed bands and Bajan rhythms to the streets.
  • The National Independence Festival of Creative Arts throughout November attracts Bajans to match their talents in the fields of music, performing and visual arts as well as poetry and writing. Nov. 30 marks the island's Independence Day, with final exhibitions and performances.
    The Barbados Tourism Authority
    Phone: (888) BARBADOS
    Web: www.barbados.org
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