Barbados is one of the few destinations in the world to boast a full, all-year-round, calendar of events and in 2016 the festivities really pack a (rum) punch! The beautiful island of Barbados is celebrating 50 years of independence and for a cricket loving nation, this all important half century is a very significant milestone worthy of the most fabulous festivities.
The history of Barbados is a fascinating tale, marked with volcanic eruptions, sugar and rum, and impassioned battles for ownership. Who can blame them? As the most easterly Caribbean island, ideally located in glistening turquoise-coloured waters rich in marine life and naturally sheltered from the tropical storms which occasionally trouble the region, Barbados is a sumptuous slice of paradise that numerous nations have desired to claim as their own.
It’s estimated that the island of Barbados is less than one million years old, having formed when the earth’s tectonic plates of the Atlantic and the Caribbean dramatically crashed together to cause a volcanic eruption and force the landmass we now know as Barbados, above sea level. Thereafter, this illustrious island invited much attention and affection in the name of ownership. Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to discover the island, with captain Pedro a Campos naming it ‘Los Barbados’, meaning ‘the bearded ones’, in honour of the vine and moss covered trees that grew in abundance throughout Barbados.
In a sad twist of fate, Barbados’ native population dramatically declined after the island’s discovery, as it was during this era that the Spanish Empire raided islands to capture slaves and Barbados was, unfortunately, used for this purpose. From 1600, onwards English, French and Dutch explorers lead the colonisation of the North American mainland and smaller islands of the West Indies. It wasn’t until 1625, however, that Barbados became colonised. Under the command of Captain James Powell, the first English ship arrived on the island and Barbados was claimed in the name of King James I. Present day Holetown was then known as Jamestown and it was from here that Captain Powell and his crew ran their operation, establishing a House of Assembly in the town in 1639. When stories of the island’s natural beauty, appealing climate and exotic ambience reached Great Britain, scores of nationals desired to experience this promised paradise for themselves. It was decided that the wealthiest citizens would be granted land rights on the island and from there, the population of English settlers steadily began to grow.
Barbados’ infrastructure and architecture is modelled on Anglo-traditions and is still today known as ‘Little England’, retaining its charismatic colonial charm interlaced Bajan-influences. Barbados thrived under British rule, enhanced by the surge in the sugar and tobacco trade, and played a key role in the English Civil war before becoming a member of the British Commonwealth.
With a strong economy, built from tourism, sugar and tobacco, and an ever-increasing rise in the native population of the island, together with self-determined customs and culture, the desire to become an independent nation grew steadily throughout Barbados. After many diplomatic and political discussions, the island was granted full independence from Britain in 1966. Barbados maintains ties to the British monarchy and English is the first language of the island, but independence is a source of pride for the island and its residents.
This year marks 50 years since that important declaration and the celebrations that have taken place throughout the year represent the happiness and significance associated with this historic event. As gold is the traditional gift for a 50 year anniversary, we have selected the stand out gold star events taking place to celebrate Barbados’ independence.
Food and Rum Festival
Barbados is known for its exquisite cuisine and the island is home to some of the most delectable restaurants in the Caribbean. However, this year sees the culinary celebrations reach new heights with a fabulous Food and Rum festival taking place throughout November. World-class chefs descend on Barbados to showcase delectable epicurean experiences and celebrate the islands long standing history of flavoursome, fresh food. Equally, rum has played a major role in establishing Barbados as the bustling hub of festivities we know it as today. The signature rum festival will invite guests to try a wealth of flavoured rum and rum punch cocktails for a true taste of Barbados, rich in spirit!
Oistins Fish Fry
Not technically an exclusive to the island’s celebration of independence, no trip to Barbados would be complete without experiencing the party ambience of the iconic Oistins Fish Fry each Friday night. Attracting travellers and natives, this legendary street party combines the best of Bajan hospitality with mouthwatering cuisine. Enjoy the catch of the day and signature ‘cutter’ sandwiches made from Bajan salt-bread, fishcakes and lashings of hot-pepper sauce, with plenty of stunning seafood specialities also on offer.
Independence Day Parade
Taking place on 30th November 2016, the official Independence Day celebrations involve an island-wide parade set to be as colourful and vibrant as the annual Crop Over festival that sets Barbados apart from its neighbouring islands. Feathers, sequins, steel drums, live performances, rum and great food are the essential elements of this fabulous festival and no matter where you are on the island, you’re sure to be swept up in the convivial celebrations.
As one of the UK’s leading luxury tour operators and Caribbean specialists, plus one of the only global travel companies to have an office in Barbados, Elegant Resorts has expert knowledge to ensure you experience the best of the Barbados. Whether you’re seeking winter sun in an exclusive beach resort or wish to create a Christmas to treasure with a luxury villa stay, the Elegant Resorts’ team of expert Travel Consultants will tailor each individual aspect of your luxury Barbados holiday to ensure a bespoke experience every time. With a prestigious portfolio of Barbados’ most exclusive properties, you can join the celebrations in style with Elegant Resorts.