Barbados Carnival: Crop-Over
Crop-Over, as the name states, is the end of the harvest, a celebration that now goes for five weeks. This National festival dates back to the 1800's. The decline of the sugar industry saw the death of the festival. After a thirty year hiatus, the determination of the people to continue the celebrations, saw the resurrection of a bigger and more modern party, with the inclusion of the steelband, calypso, and now includes art & crafts exhibitions along with numerous cultural events and competitions.
At the end of months of hard work, a successful Sugar cane harvest was welcomed with loud singing, dancing and feasting. In the days of slavery, as the last cart of cane was taken into the mill yard, one of the labourers slaves would beat a gong, announcing to all that the last cart has arrived and in so doing heralding "Crop Over". What was once a one-day celebration has now expanded into a five week period of celebrations, it begins in early July and culminates with a parade on the streets called Grand Kadooment, the first Monday of August. Quite a bit of the old elements of CropOver remains a part of the celebration, e.g. the donkey cart parade and ceremonial delivery of the last canes. The carts came from far and wide ranging from very small to the very large, even buses and bicycles, with each cart depicting a political or social theme.
Indigenous to Barbados, it's a combination of African and British military rhythms with the musicians dressed in minstrel like costumes creating music from kettledrums, bass drums and whistles. They play sounds like marching band music, old-time waltzes and almost always ends with an African beat. This is a great spectacle to see. The musicians are as serious about their music as any steelband man. Although a part of the old era, it is still very alive and a part of the modern day celebrations with completion's staged during Crop Over.
Calypso & Soca:
Although calypso is indigenous to Trinidad, it now holds a very prominent place
in the Crop Over Celebration. Like Trinidad Carnival, it has all the trimmings, the Tents, parties, semi-finals judging and then to the Calypso Monarch finals, which take place just before Grand Kadooment. The Bajan artistes are holding their own with this art form and have even created new forms like Ringband and Ragga-soca, a definite invention of the Bajan calypsonians.
Borrowed from Trinidad, the Bajans have taken it, and now the popularity and growth of the steelband in Barbados is phenomenal, with every year seeing the improvement of the sound and quality of the music to the extent that steelband has now taken a place on the curriculum of many of the schools on the island.
The grand finale, a parade of the costumed bands for the final competition for
"Designer of the Year" Crown. The revelers are dressed in elaborate costumes
depicting various themes dancing to music playing from the most popular
bandstands, with disc jockeys winding their way down to Spring Garden where they would be judged for this coveted crown.
Bar none, Barbados hotels offer access to the island's sugar sands, golf courses, and bargain shops. Make a reservation now.
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