What is a Festival?

Dictionary: Feasting day or time; time of celebrating, merrymaking.

In the context of our country and the occasions of traditional festivals events or occasions of national or general public celebrating there are about five (5) such celebrating times. Some are big and more generally recognized some are small and very localized.

This event occurs between end June and 1st week July. Its features Steel pan, Calypso, & Mas in competition/ shows. Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) organizes it. A major feature is the general public joining the costumed bands in a “free for all” street dancing after the costume bands have been judged.

Christmas (with Nine Mornings)
This event occurs at end December. The day itself is in honor of the birth of Jesus. Generally the activities that are structured are those involving Christian churches. There is much commercial enterprise and unstructured family type celebration. Nine Mornings is an unique Vincentian preparation for Christmas. It has evolved over time and effort is being made to ensure the tradition does not die by turning it into a full festival program. Much of its appeal is in holding the activities in the early hours of a morning.

Easter (with Regatta & Easterval)
This event celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead. It is similar to Christmas. The initial structured events are Christian church services. Over time sailing events, which were part of the holiday, have been organizing more fully and form part of a broader celebration. At the same time parallel activity involving calypso and beauty competition has developed. Presently two programs are staged independent of each other.

All Souls
This event is a remembrance of dead relatives and friends. It is a combination of partially remembered African traditions of ancestor worship and of a Catholic focus of prayer for departed souls. It has developed in resent times to a wider public gathering occasion in rural communities. Special attention is the general cleaning of cemeteries and the decoration of graves. On the night in question people gather in the cemeteries and tell stories and reminisce on the lives of the departed. Some communities have live drumming or play recorded music.

Maroon or Big Drum
This event is now localized to Union Island. It occurs at the end of the dry season and consists of community presentation of traditional dances in response to a vision and spontaneous assembly

Performance Festivals:
There are also the festivals arising from focusing on performing arts achievements. This type of festival is slightly artificial in that it does not arise from a particular tradition activity base but is a staged event for presenting and rewarding performers. These festivals occur at times decided by the organizers.

They are:

  • Primary School Performing Arts Festival
  • Schools Drama Festival
  • Community Drama Festival
  • National Dance Festival
  • National Musical Festival
  • Gospel Fest


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