Festivals: A unique part of the US Virgin Islands culture
Caribbean festivals or carnivals began as a celebration done by slaves every year, now being a time when people flock to the streets wearing festive outfits, singing, dancing, and enjoying local foods. Carnival is celebrated throughout the entire Caribbean and while they all have similarities, the celebrations throughout the islands have unique styles. The differences may be the kind of music played as certain islands play more Soca Music, a Caribbean music genre that originated in Trinidad and Tobago, and some play more Dancehall, a genre that originated in Jamaica.
In the United States Virgin Islands, festivals are usually celebrated around the months of April through July. However, St. Croix holds its celebrations in the winter months for Christmas Celebrations. These islands enjoy Soca music more than anything else as that is the majority of what is played. These Carnival events are looked forward to and bring an unbelievable sense of jubilation to those who participate.
While celebrations were not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, they resumed in 2022 as the number of cases has gone down. “St. Thomas Carnival was a labor of love and a step in the right direction to returning to pre-pandemic levels”, said Ian Turnbull, Division of Festivals Director. “We wanted to be bold and integrate some of the more traditional cultural elements like live bands and calypso for our older generations, but also cater to the younger generation with some newer, modern, local artists. The community’s response and support were incredible to witness, and it was clear there was a longing for Carnival to return in person.”
“The positive impact Carnival has on tourism in our territory is evident. It’s a treasured and beloved event for all, and our airlift and hotel capacity over the past week proves this, said Commissioner of Tourism, Joseph Boschulte. “In between events, visitors can enjoy our beautiful pristine beaches, delicious cuisine, marine life, sister islands of St. Croix and St. John and so much more. We look forward to continuing this long-standing tradition and welcoming visitors to enjoy our culture for many centuries to come.”
While carnivals in St. Thomas have ended for the summer as they happened from April 27 to May 1, 2022, and St. Croix’s celebrations were from December 4 2021 through January 8, 2022, St. John’s Festivals have recently begun. On the usvifestivals.vi website people may access the 2022 Carnival celebration schedule and book their “fetes,” a word used to mean party in the US Virgin Islands.