BVI August Festival - Tortola, British Virgin Islands
The wonderful people of the British Virgin Islands celebrate Emancipation marking the end of slavery in the BVI! For a full week every August, islanders celebrate ... with gusto!
Emancipation Festivities include the Rise & Shine "J'ouvert" or "tramp", a fabulous parade, with vibrantly colourful costumes, sailing and power boat races, a greased pole contest, horse racing, donkey races, the Miss BVI Contest, a fishing tournament, greased pig contest and lots more fun stuff!
Caribbean music, food, and drink flow freely at Festival Village in Road Town, Tortola.
The BVI Festival celebrates the reading of the historic, "Emancipation Proclamation" which took place on Monday, August 1st, 1834 at what has since been named, "The Monday Morning Well" in Road Town.
I never miss the parade in Tortola and really wish my photos could do this event justice ... but alas, I my pictures are of dubious quality and composition. Here they are anyway!
Mocko jumbies are my favourite parade participants. The "mocko jumbie" is an important part of African farming heritage. To protect crops from predatory birds and beasts, the farmer dons brightly coloured clothing, straps on stilts and fiercely defends any crop with machetes or any other available weapon. They became live scarecrows ... so to speak!
Intricately detailed costumes display the theme of each troupe in the August Festival Parade. Literally hundreds of hours go into making some of the more impressive works and many of these unique creations, such as those above, are made by those who wear them. Some ladies are more camera shy than others ... but all are justifiably proud of their work!
Photo opportunities for visitors are plentiful as Tortola parade participants are more than happy to assist by posing. Provided you pick your time and place appropriately, you can get some really great pictures for your own British Virgin islands photo gallery!
August Festival is a time for British Virgin Islanders to come together and celebrate emancipation, partake in friendly competition, pay homage to their rich heritage ... eat, drink and be merry!
One event which is always fun to watch is the Greased Pole Contest. Young men from around the islands attempt to traverse a 20' long greased pole and snatch the red flag! Some failed attempts result in some rather "uncomfortable" and dramatic prat falls!
On Festival Tuesday, there is a crush of people attending the horse races and it is truly a sight to behold. I do believe that absolutely everyone in the British Virgin Islands (who isn't in a coma) goes to these horse races! The stands are full to capacity and still more congregate outside the gates and on nearby rooftops!
Horse racing has been a big part of BVI Festival since its inception in 1954... and since building the Little A Race track, I have no doubt it will continue to be one of our more popular events!
Everyone in the British Virgin Islands loves Festival! Even our one time Chief Minister, The Honourable, Doctor Orlando Smith and our former Governor, His Excellency, Thomas Macan, took time for some friendly rivalry!
The people's elected leader and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II's appointed representative, took part in the "Island Sloop Shootout"! See more pictures of the sailing races aboard these Caribbean treasures!
For information about British Virgin Islands sailing,
Contact our Tortola bareboat charter specialist!
Phone: (284) 495-4168 Tortola, British Virgin Islands
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Launched: August 17, 2004 - Last Updated: January 27,2014