Virgin Islands Carnival
Once a year, the sound of intoxicating steel drums, colorful dancers, mocko jumbies, fireworks, and the barrage of tourists fill the streets of the US Virgin Islands. It’s these times of the year when people from all walks of life and all ages come together and enjoy each other’s company through music, dancing, food and rum. Welcome to Virgin Islands Carnival!
Virgin Islanders love Carnival and anticipate this cultural festival every year. Who wouldn’t? Dancing, singing, parades, pageantry, food and drinks, and a continuous party day after day. But the party doesn’t end as the sun sets, because it’s carried on through the night with local bands and musicians, pageants and even fairs showcasing local crafts.
Beyond the entertainment and festivity of Virgin Islands Carnival, it is foremost an exposition of Virgin Islands’ culture and treasured tradition passed down year after year. It depicts important African and European customs that include music, dancing and masquerades.
Celebration in the islands
The different islands in the USVI celebrate Carnival at different times of the year; St. Thomas from April to May, St. John from June to July, and St. Croix in December to January.
St. Thomas: The first Carnival on St. Thomas was on February 14, 1912, however, it took 38 years before becoming an annual event. In 1952, a radio personality by the name of Ron De Lugo revived the festival traditions of Carnival and the island has been celebrating it every year since. Carnival celebration in St Thomas is a month long event that includes calypso shows, parades, food fair, queen pageants, steel pan shows, local bands and talents, and more.
St. John: St John Festival celebrates important events of not just the island’s history, but the whole of the United States as well. First is Emancipation Day, a local holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery and second is the US Independence Day. It is also a month long event that culminates on the 4th of July, and includes musical venues, parades, food fair, and fireworks.
St. Croix: Called the Crucian Christmas Festival, St Croix’s Carnival started it’s tradition in the early 1800s as enslaved Africans on the island were allowed to celebrate Christmas and New Years in their plantations. It is also a four week celebration that starts in December and ends with parades in January (coincides with Three Kings Day), which features Calypso shows, parades, Latin music venues, horse races and food fairs.
Virgin Island Carnival in the US Virgin Islands transform the peaceful and laid back islands into big buzzing street parties. What’s amazing is that each Carnival is celebrated at different times of the year, allowing you to experience the festive occasions whether you’re visiting the Virgin Islands during off-season (from mid-April to mid-December) or peak season (mid-December to mid-April).