pink lounge chairs next to pool

Counting Down To Crop Over

The Sweetest Festival In Barbados

a group of women in colorful clothing

Some folks round here call it ‘the sweetest festival on the planet’. 

According to The New York Times, it’s where ‘Rihanna got her style groove from’.

Barbados’ National Cultural Foundation describes it as ‘a 3 month-long festival of Barbadian music, arts, food and culture.’

The 2023 festival officially started on July 1st with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes, and since then the events schedule has been bursting with energy, creativity, music and Bajan cultural experiences.

Kick Off With Kadooment

Kadooment is a Bajan phrase meaning ‘large party.’ In the late 18th century when Barbados was one of the world’s biggest sugar cane producers, Kadooment Day and Crop Over Day were introduced to celebrate the successful harvest of the sugar crop. The slaves who worked on sugar cane plantations got the rare opportunity to smile, laugh, and be merry, so the festival was celebrated in grand style.

The slaves also took the opportunity to honor old traditions and customs from Africa, from where most Barbadians trace their ancestry. Adopting this culture, they wore costumes made of grass, feathers, flowers during this festive period, and paraded in the streets while singing and dancing. These celebrations were their way of thanking the gods and asking for more blessings in their next harvest. The festivals included lots of rum distilled from the sugar cane, and onlookers were encouraged to join, which is probably where carnival parades in Barbados started. Even after the abolition of slavery, Bajans continued to celebrate Kadooment Day, and Crop Over evolved into an annual celebration of their culture.

This year’s Crop Over festivities reach their crescendo on Monday, August 7, when Grand Kadooment hits the streets of Bridgetown to the pounding rhythms of soca. Starting early in the morning with Jouvert at the National Stadium, a series of breathtaking masquerade bands will traverse the local city streets, with revellers ‘jumping’ from Warrens to the Spring Garden and onlookers enjoying the spectacle every step of the way. 

Celebrated every first Monday of August, Kadooment Day is the most vibrant celebration of all the holidays in Barbados. The National Botanical Gardens also plays a key role in this year's festival hosting events such as Kiddies’ Kadooment, the Pandemonium steel band competition, Pic-O-De-Crop calypso finals and Soca 4.0. Check out the NCF website for full details of all the 2023 Crop Over events.

What’s A ‘Band’ & Why Are They Jumping?

The New York Times puts it this way: “Those who participate in Crop Over can choose between many different ‘bands’ — that is, design houses — to ‘jump’ with, and they pay the band for various services, which can include a costume, food, drinks, security, mobile restrooms and goody bags. The costumes are a major highlight of the experience, and Crop Over style has influenced fashion on a global scale. Rihanna and Jourdan Dunn have worked with local designers to execute their elaborate festival looks, helping to solidify the signature style associated with Crop Over in the modern day.”

Jumping is the term used for taking to the streets as part of a band, and chipping is the forward marching dance fuelled by the hi-energy soca music pumping from the band’s own massive truck soundsystem. Put them together with the sumptuous colours of the costumes, and perhaps it becomes obvious why Crop Over is the festival described in Bajan vernacular as ‘sweet fuh days’.

Sweet Soca Sound systems

The world is listening to soca, as more and more Caribbean artists break through to the mainstream music scene, and here in Barbados we have calypso and soca legends like Alison Hinds, Edwin Yearwood and Red Plastic Bag  Soca is a modern form of calypso with an up-tempo beat that drives the fun during the summer Crop Over season, and in the past, the annual Soca Monarch competition was fiercely contended. However, this year Barbados has changed its tune to a world-class live concert called Soca 4.0 to be held on August 6, showcasing the best songs of the season, top artists and up and coming singers.

Where To Watch

Bridgetown will be bursting at the seams with revellers and onlookers on August 7! Experts at say: “Crop Over, being the premier event of the year in Barbados, attracts over 100k people from all over the world! The sense of unity and overarching themes of freedom are what attracts people far and wide, who come to witness the sights and sounds of Barbados in full swing! The festival even has its own megastar ambassador Rihanna who joins the colourful masses celebrating Crop Over.”

The route from Warrens to Spring Gardens will be well marked on the day, so get out early to grab a great spot to people-watch! Check in with the Guest services team for local knowledge.

Don’t Miss It!

Friday, August 4, 2023: Straight after the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals is when the Foreday Morning Jump Up kicks off and lasts well into the early hours of Saturday morning. Paint, mud and powder are part of the celebration! After the Foreday Morning Jam many hit the beach for a sunrise beach party.

Saturday, August 5, 2023: For those that still have lots of energy this is when Bridgetown Market starts, which runs for 3-days and is a fun local craft fair.

Sunday, August 6, 2023: This is when Crop Over Cohobblopot takes place. A huge carnival-like show with members of the Kadooment bands displaying their elaborate and stunning costumes, it is one of the biggest and most exciting events of Crop Over

Monday, August 7, 2023: Grand Kadooment Day in Barbados! The highlight of Crop Over is a spectacular daytime street carnival & parade, and also when the Tune-Of-The-Crop or the ‘Road March Song’ is judged.