The Crop Over Celebrations
Barbados Crop Over season is a series of electric events taking place from May through to August, to celebrate the end of the sugarcane season. Traditional Caribbean music is central to this series of celebrations with many exciting Calypso, Gospel and Soca concerts and festivals taking place.
The season comes to a climax with ‘Grand Kadooment’, which attracts people from all over the world and is a colourful carnival of music, costumes and dance that is similar to ‘Trinidad Carnival’ or ‘Notting Hill Carnival’ in London.
Crop Over originated as far back as the 1780’s, when Barbados’ income was mainly from the sugar industry. At the end of the sugar season there was always a huge celebration. After the sugar industry declined, so did Crop Over. However, the festival was revived in the 1940’s and today it is one of the largest festivals in the Barbadian calendar.
This is largely thanks to the National Cultural Foundation who organize events and competitions across the island, often securing big prizes such as cars or money. These competitions start in ‘tents’, which are erected to house live music concerts throughout Crop Over and are sponsored by local businesses.
Many exciting tents open across Barbados such as last year’s The Digicel Big Band Tent, whose opening night showcased the likes of Red Plastic Bag and Adonijah, and also the Cave Shepherd All stars tent. In addition to the opening of these two exciting tents, The Ranch Village was in action, which was home of The Lucky Horseshoe Band. (Bands are teams of party people who have signed up to dance behind floats at the grand finale of Crop Over – ‘Grand Kadooment’ carnival.) The Ranch Village opened with a Spice and Company concert who rocked the new venue to a sell-out crowd.
Calypso artists compete in these and other tents across the island to be selected to enter larger competitions with big prizes. Winners in each tent are selected to enter the semi finals of larger competitions and then the winners of the semi finals enter the finals where they could secure a title, a luxury car and money.
Below are some of the biggest music events that take place over the Crop Over season. There are also Crop Over arts and costume events, as well as special Crop Over markets.
The Official Crop Over Launch Party
This is a day of music, dance and performance. Three stages showcase the talents of folk, reggae, hip-hop, gospel, soca and calypso artists. There are also poetry readings, island skits, creative dances, fire eating, limbo dance, steel pan and more.
As always, local food is served up including the national dish – cou cou and flying fish.
In addition, there is a farmers Market, a Craft Marketplace, an Urban Village, Steelpan Workshops, Bajan Fashion, and a Mega Kids Zone.
Pic-O-De-Crop Semi Finals
This is a fabulous Calypso concert at which you will see eighteen top Calypso musicians compete to be picked to enter the Pic-O-De-Crop finals. These musicians are selected from the performers who showcase their talents in the Crop Over music tents, that are erected for Crop Over performances across the island.
Seven out of the eighteen competitors are picked to go onto the next stage of this competition – the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals. At the finals successful candidates will compete against the reigning Calypso Monarch who won the competition the year before. Each participant sings two songs before a panel of judges where points are based on lyrics, content, performance, melody and diction.
This is one of the biggest musical events on the Crop Over calendar at which you can see top Calypso musicians perform on stage in a festival atmosphere. Barbados’ most popular musical artists will compete in the ‘Sweet Soca’ and the ‘Party Monarch’ Competitions.
Typically, Soca Royale kicks off at 11.00am and the first live performances will be classic Soca tunes from the eightees and nineties – called ‘Soca Wonders’.
Then at 3.00pm The Sweet Soca Monarch Competition will take place, and after this, at 6.30pm, the Party Monarch Competition will commence.
The Sweet Soca Monarch competition
Seven finalists compete against the Sweet Soca Monarch to take the title. The winner competes to win a new car, which last year was a Kia Cerato Koup with a Freekz Customz body kit and hands free Bluetooth kit from Quintech.
The Party Monarch competition
Nineteen Calypso artists compete to become the ‘Party Monarch’ against the current Calypso artist. These artists would have initially been picked from their respective Calypso tents and then gone on to compete at the Party Monarch Calypso semi-finals.
Party-goers can enjoy the show well into the night. This event is suitable for corporate and family gatherings, with non-stop food and drinks. There is also a children’s play area and numerous attractions for families.
This is one of the most highly anticipated events on the Crop Over calendar. Nine finalists of the ‘Pic-O-De-Crop’ semi finals will perform at this electric event to become the ‘Calypso Monarch of Barbados’, win a car and BB$10,500. This acclaimed competition is one of the best Calypso productions in the Caribbean.
Spring Garden Highway comes alive with colourful, moving floats carrying performing Calypso and Socca musicians, followed by ‘bands’ of colourfully clad revelers dancing the traditional ‘wok up’ to Calypso beats. The Calypso and Soca performers showcase their talents to huge, spectating crowds.
The bands of dancing revelers behind the floats dress in traditional, sexy kadooment costumes. Ladies strut their stuff in skimpy, sequined, sparkly bikinis and brightly coloured, feathered headdresses. Men show off their muscles in coloured shorts and sparkly ankle and wrist bands. There are also giant sculpture costumes that consist of lightweight sculptures made from coloured material and wire that tower over the wearer’s head.
This festival day is a feast for all the senses with music, dance, costume, food, drink and fun. It is one of the biggest events in the Barbados calendar and is a must see!
Crop Over began in 1688 to celebrate the end of the yearly sugarcane harvest. Today it is Barbados’ largest festival celebration.
For more information about the Crop Over season go to: www.barbadoscropoverfestival.com
To join a band, we recommend our friends over at Collision Entertainment https://www.collisionentertainment.com/ – but hurry as they sell out fast once the costumes go on sale!