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THE HISTORY OF CROPOVER

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The biggest spectacle of Barbados’ culture is the Crop Over festival. Considered the sweetest summer festival, Crop Over is staged over two months during the summer and is a showing of musical talent, parties and cultural events that all culminate on the first Monday in August with a colourful parade of costumed revellers.

Whereas several other carnivals around the world are tied to religious holidays, Crop Over’s roots are firmly entwined in the island’s historic reverence for sugar cane – a crop which historically positioned the island as a top sugar producer and contributed to it gaining recognition as the birthplace of rum. During this era of plantocracy, the African slaves that laboured on the many sugar plantations kept their homeland tradition of honouring their ancestors at the end of the harvest – it was a celebration they hoped would cause a good omen and protection to befall them and the new crop.

Diary entries made by plantation owners date this type of celebrations back to the 1790s and were observed across the island’s many plantations as moments where music, dance and cheerful voices pervaded the air. As the centuries rolled on, the first formal title given to these celebrations was Harvest Home, which after a hiatus due to World War II, was revived and rebranded as the Crop Over festival that we know today.

Perhaps it is the rich historical significance of the festival or possibly the modern-day tweaks, but whatever the reason, Crop Over has gained massive international recognition over the past few years, with familiar names such as Will Smith, Lewis Hamilton and Barbados-born Rihanna gracing the island’s shores to experience the Crop Over season first hand! Maybe planning a visit to Barbados for Crop Over isn’t a bad idea after all!