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Smiling through the post-wuk sweat at crop over in barbados

Smiling through the post-wuk sweat (Picture: Megan Roberts)

If youve never heard of Crop Over before, youve definitely seen it. Its the festival that occurs annually on the island, publicised each August with multiple pictures of Rihanna wearing the best outfits youve ever seen.

Although Crop Over isnt to be confused with a carnival, the costumes, dancing, and music are fairly similar. Whereas carnival in Trinidad, for example, happens right before Lent as one big blowout before fasting begins, Crop Over is a celebration of the sugar cane season being over for Bajans.

Rum – and sugar production in general – have always been at the heart of Barbados economy, and the two-month long festival culminates on the first Monday of August each year, a time when the harvest would officially have been done and dusted.

Bacchanal is a word youll hear a whole load of if you attend. It comes from the Greek god, Bacchus, who was the god of revelry, wine, and general abundance of all things good. Essentially, if Crop Over was a person.

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Itd be impossible to condense the whole Barbados experience down to one piece, but if youre planning on visiting Crop Over, here are some things you should know based on my 2019 trip.

All inclusive fetes

Fetes do not discriminate against time of day. These can happen all night long, during the day, and sometimes before the sun comes up.

Each has a different vibe, but the thing that makes them all the same is that, for the price of your ticket, youre treated to all the drinks and food you could wish to consume.

For the early birds, Mimosa Breakfast Fete gets going at around 4am. Soca legends like Lil Rick took the stage while we ate our eggs and downed some actual mimosas to wake us up. By the time most people had had their morning shower, we were well past tipsy, wukking up as the sun rose (and with it, our sweat beads).

If youre after something a bit more chill you can head to Island Mas, which is situated in the historic George Washington building. Its not as busy, for those who dont like big crowds, but the jovial, festival atmosphere is certainly out in force.

Wukking up at Mimosa Fete

Bajans bring their A-game for fetes (Picture: Megan Roberts)

If evening parties are more your thing, though, the Bliss All Inclusive Fete is the one you want. Its set in the countrys botanical gardens, which is absolutely huge. The food court alone could fill a few football pitches, and you can get yourself everything from curry goat to steamed dumplings with slaw, while drinking and dancing to Soca.

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Soca is an integral part of loving Crop Over, and songs like Savannah Grass, Sometime, and Famalay will be the soundtrack to your time in Barbados, along with the tracks of Red Plastic Bag, Kes, and Farmer Nappy.

Bring this positive energy (and wear your best get-up), and youre guaranteed to enjoy yourself.

The beauty of night partying, is that its much less sweaty (Picture: Megan Roberts)

Get cultural

As well as all that partying, youd be mad not to spend some time getting to know the island and soaking up the rich culture of Barbados.

Embarking on a whistlestop tour of the country – which you can do by car in around an hour – was certainly sobering among all that rum. Of course partying is at the forefront of this time of year for Bajans, but the whole story behind how it came to be is as fascinating as it is saddening.

A country built on slavery, most Bajans youll speak to will say that they dont hold grudges about it. However, youll never look at a palm tree the same once you know that they were planted to help slaves get back to their plantations. Or feel the same when you see hotels called The Colony Club frequented by wealthy, white tourists while youve just looked at lists of people who spent their lives in servitude.

Tour Guide Dawn Lisa in Barbados

Our amazing tour guide, Dawn Lisa (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

As our tour guide Dawn Lisa says, though, its not about wallowing in it, but learning from what happened in Barbados, and understanding how it makes it such as diverse culture to this day.

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You can head to any number of bakeries on the island and pick up sausage rolls (or meat rolls, as theyre called here) that are distinctly British, or end up chatting to red-headed Bajans with a twinge of Irish in their accent from their ancestors.

St. Nicholas Abbey is a perfect spot to learn all about this history, and you can take the train there up to Cherry Tree Hill and get the most fantastic views of the East Coast. There are rum tastings during the tour, and dont forget to ask them about Benedict Cumberbatch (whose descendants lived here). You will learn some things, let me tell you.

Cherry Tree Hill Barbados

The view from Cherry Tree Hill is unmatched (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

Cruising and snorkelling

Aside from your packed party schedule, youd be mad to miss the incredible natural beauty of Barbados.

We went on the Tiami lunchtime catamaran cruise, and were able to snorkel in the shallow, clear waters, even spotting some turtles among all manner of fish. On top of that, we were provided with drinks, food, and plenty of music to accompany the bucket-list scenes we were experiencing.

Cool Runnings is another popular option, but have a look online first to see which cruise is right for you. Alternatively, you can grab yourself a snorkel and jump into the sea and have at it. There are no private beaches allowed in Barbados, so the coastline is all yours (be safe, of course).

Barbados Catamaran Cruise

Pro tip: Dont put your sunglasses on on these, as they will fall into the sea (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

Foreday Morning

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If you didnt learn about wukking up before, youll need to do so for this. We had lessons like the shy Brits they clearly knew we were, but for the uninitiated its a type of high-energy dance that involves a whole load of waist movement. Jumping is also another term youd be best to get acquainted with; it doesnt refer to the act of pushing yourself off a surface, but instead parading through the streets with a band.

We jumped with the Jambalasse Foreday Morning Band, who provided us with T-shirts to customise, and plenty of paint at the meeting point so we could get ourselves covered in it.

By the time we were on the road, we were shaking our hips no bother, with the whole thing going from around 10.30pm to 8.30am the next morning. Word of warning, only wear clothes you dont mind getting covered in paint, go for comfy shoes, and get ready for the night of your life.

Foreday Morning with Jambalasse

This was the before picture – we were absolutely covered in paint by the after photo (Picture: Yousif Nur)

Kadooment Day

The final day of Crop Over is Kadooment, and this is when youll see the most beautiful costumes and the most prominent people jumping around Bridgetown.

Watching Rihanna in all her finery was a major highlight for many of us, but the infectious happiness of the whole day is impossible not to catch.

Jump on Kadooment Day at your own peril, as youve likely been partying for days on end at this point, and youll be out in the blazing sun all day. If you do brave it, take sun cream and hat and have water between drinks to avoid a rum-induced bout of sunstroke.

Crop Over outfits 2019

The attention to detail in these costumes will blow you away (Picture: Megan Roberts)

What to eat

The phrase eatings cheating does not compute here, with food in abundance everywhere you go, and delicious, hot morsels available even from the likes of the local petrol station.

Those after something filling and hearty shoulRead More – Source