I vaguely knew about Crop Over. And by that I mean I had seen Rhianna’s outrageous Crop Over costumes splayed across the internet the years she had touched down in Barbados for the spirited festival. [Check out my NYLON interview with Bad Gal RiRi’s costume designer!] But this year that all changed when I was invited by the Barbados Tourism Board to actually participate in the annual harvest festival known as Crop Over.

So what exactly is it? Crop Over began in the 1780s and is a massive, six-week celebration marking the end of a successful sugar cane season in Barbados. During this time hundreds of thousands of people come to this Caribbean paradise to join in on the high-energy festivities. During Crop Over, the rum is free-flowing and every day—and night—is yet another opportunity to party. Think non-stop fêtes (literally when one party ends, another begins), concerts, dusk-to-dawn parades, the best of calypso and soca music blasting where ever you go, Bajan food festivals, arts and crafts markets and more.

Breakfast Fêtes

So say you partied all night, but want to continue partying? No problem! There are actual parties with live music, top-shelf liquor, food and dancing that start at 4 a.m. and continue throughout the day so you never have to worry about the party dying down! 

There are also evening parties and boat cruises that keep the party rolling through the day into the night!

Foreday Morning Jam

This is a nighttime street party/ parade precursor celebration to Grand Kadooment Day that starts around 1 a.m. and continues through the morning. Revelers wear their band’s tee shirt, I jumped with the Jambalasse Band, and you basically get doused with neon paints as you dance the night away! Music trucks and event security lead the way throughout the night, so you don’t feel unsafe.

Grand Kadooment Day

Crop Over festivities culminates every August with Grand Kadooment Day, the main event that Bad Gal RiRi put on the radar of partiers around the world. This is the day where revelers from across the globe dress up in vibrant, ornate and over-the-top costumes complete with bedazzled bras and panties, outfits embellished with jewels, sequins and rhinestones, feathered headpieces and wings and statement jewelry and accessories.

Masqueraders, of which I was one of, “jump” with different bands while whining the day away to the soca and calypso hits of the year as they make their way towards Spring Garden Highway. Major hits were Fimba’s “Funky Business” and Holla Bak’s “Too Sweet”, which you should def listen to while reading the rest of this post!

Everyone’s costumes looked absolutely incredible! I jumped with Blue Box Cart Band and wore a stunning costume called “Gypsy Soul”. I had a headpiece, armbands, beautifully colored plumage, a very jewel-encrusted bra and a whole lot of other accessories, including jeweled pantie accessories! Only downside? It was not easy to put on!

People were dancing, drinking, laughing and literally living their best lives on the road. The camaraderie, excitement and overall vibes were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It was LIT from start to finish. And surprisingly no one (seemed to be, at least!) overly drunk and people were, from my experience, respectful and courteous throughout the day.

It was one of the most immersive, cultural experiences I’ve had in another country. I definitely recommend experiencing Crop Over at least once in your life, especially if you love having a good time, dancing and rum!

Explore

If you have extra time to explore Bridgetown, check out the Mount Gay Rum Distillery which is home to the world’s oldest rum brand, established in 1703. You can learn about its heritage, taste the best quality rum on earth and enjoy a cocktail or two! I recently took a trip with Mount Gay Rum to Newport, Rhode Island to experience apres sailing at the Volvo Ocean Race. Check out my article if you’re interested in learning more about its nautical legacy!

Another fun day trip is to Animal Flower Cave, a gorgeous site located at the Northern part of Barbados in St. Lucy where you can swim in natural rock pools and admire views of the Atlantic and Caribbean seas.

And if you’re craving a tradition fish sandwich or “cutter,” head to Cuz’ Fish Shack! The fish and cheese cutter is soooo delicious!

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