It's Almost Time For Crop Over!

The Sweetest Festival In Barbados

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 2024 festival officially starts on July 6 with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes at the National Botanical Gardens and the events schedule will be bursting with energy, creativity, music and Bajan cultural experiences through until August 5.

Kick Off With Kadooment

Celebrated every first Monday of August, 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.

Grand Kadooment hits the streets of Bridgetown to the pounding rhythms of soca early in the morning of August 4 with Jouvert at the National Stadium, a series of breathtaking masquerade bands will traverse the local city streets, with revellers ‘jumping’ and onlookers enjoying the spectacle every step of the way. 

Kadooment 2024 will feature a new parade route: starting at the Bridgetown Helipad the bands will head onto Hincks Street, along the Princess Alice Highway, onto Harbour Road, then follow President Kennedy Drive to Eagle Hall, then onto Black Rock Main Road up to the roundabout at the bottom of University Hill; onto the Mighty Grynner Highway, and back to Kensington Oval.

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 5.0. Check out the website for full details of all the 2024 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 5.0 to be held on August 4, 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 5! 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 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 2: 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 3: For those that still have lots of energy this is when Bridgetown Craft Market starts, which runs for 3-days and is a fun local craft fair.

Sunday, August 4: 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 5: Grand Kadooment Day 2024 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.

If you fancy taking part in the parade and not just watching it,  reach out to Guest Services at frontdesk@o2beachclubbarbados  for information, as we have partnered with a local band house to give a fully immersive Crop Over Experience. Guests of O2 Beach Club are also invited to the Sea Breeze Car Park Jam on August 15 for those that miss the real thing - our show and parade is the next best thing!