Carnival festivities take place on all of the islands of the Caribbean at different times of the year and each has its own schedule of events and unique approach to food, fun and fantasy. The Carnival on St. John is one of the most anticipated cultural and social events of the year. A longstanding tradition drawn from African and European celebrations from centuries ago, the USVI Carnival is a celebration of life, culture, emancipation and independence. Festive, ornate and highly celebratory, St. John’s Carnival effervesces with shimmering costumes, calypso and reggae music, gorgeous pageantry, Caribbean food, tropical drinks, elaborate parades that draw thousands and talented entertainment troupes. A relatively smaller island in the Caribbean, St. John is normally not crowded, but people will flock from all the other islands in excited anticipation of the month-long party here.
The Carnival on St. John culminates with VI Emancipation Day on July 3rd. Then the Carnival begins on July 4th in Cruz Bay with thousands of people attending the Carnival Parade of music, dance, costumes and celebration. The Parade starts at 11 AM and can last several hours. Subsequent Carnival celebrations last throughout the month.
Watch for these favorite activities during Carnival:
- Calypso Competition and Calypso Review: Calypso is the sound of the world and it’s an important part of island culture. Through the years, Calypsonians have used their words to convey both positive and negative comments regarding social and political events. Performers in the Calypso Review include well known celebrities that really draw the crowds. Performers in the Calypso Competitions have a chance to display their talents and be discovered!
- The Ms. St. John Pageant invites young women to display their feminine charms adorned in cultural wear, swimwear and eveningwear. The young women of St. John long to earn the crown and those who do are forever recognized in the history of Virgin Island culture.
- Carnival Food Fair: Every island in the Caribbean has an amazing Food Fair during Carnival featuring island specialties. St. John’s is located in Cruz Bay and is sure to include jonny cakes, shrimp, beef and salt fish pates, fried fish, lobster, kalaloo, mango and pineapple tarts. You will also find lively displays of arts and crafts!
- Carnival Village: Every Carnival has a designated section in the heart of the island filled with booths offering locally made crafts, specialty foods, sweets and drinks plus music, dancing, rides for the children, appearances from well known Carnival personalities and political figures. The grand opening of the Village is a ceremony in itself. As crowds gather and the ribbon is cut, the Carnival Village welcomes the excited public.
The St. John Carnival is an event that is not to be missed if you are planning an island vacation in July. Be sure to book well in advance so you don’t miss this highly anticipated and unique celebration! For more details on the Carnival and calendar of events, call the St. John tourist office at (340) 776-6450.