Top Barbados Events and Festivals

Barbados is known as the cultural capital of the Caribbean, and the island hosts some of the region's most popular and best known events and festivals. World famous musicians perform at the annual Jazz Festival, Gospelfest and during Holder's Season, while Crop Over and the Oistins Fish Festival are don't-miss parties celebrating local culture and cuisine.

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The Crop Over Festival

Courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority

The annual Barbados Crop Over festival runs from May to August and is the highlight of the island's annual social calendar. The festival has its roots in celebrations of sugar-cane harvests dating back to the 18th century, and today includes calypso concerts, carnival parades, marketplaces selling goods and food, and the crowning of a festival king and queen. Crop Over culminates in August with the Grand Kadooment -- a huge carnival parade with spectacular costumes and calypso music that ends at the beach in true Caribbean style. The Kadooment bands also show off their costumes at Cohobbelpot, a festival in its own right with music, food, and lots of dancing!

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Barbados Jazz Festival

Courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority

Established in 1992, the Barbados Jazz Festival is a week-long celebration featuring performers such as Lee Ritenour and Erykah Badu, with performances in diverse venues such as historic plantation homes, a rum factory, and Farley Hill National Park.

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Oistins Fish Festival

Courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority

This festival on the south coast of the island honors those who are part of the Barbados’ fishing industry with calypso and reggae music and traditional Bajan fare like fish cakes, fried fish, souse (a kind of pickled pork), and head cheese.

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Performers exult at the annual Gospelfest in Barbados.

Barbados Gospelfest

The Caribbean's leading showcase for international, regional and local gospel talent features bands and singers from around the world. This family oriented festival is held at venues throughout Barbados over a week in mid-May; some events are free, some charge a fee.

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Holder's Season

jazz bass
Photo by Shunichi Kouroki/CC by 2.0

Held over two weeks in late February and early March, the Caribbean's top cultural festival features a dizzying array of performances, from Shakespearean drama to gospel and blues music and comedy shows. The 17th-century Holder's House, a historic plantation home, hosts the annual festival.

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Holetown Festival

Mount Gay rum on the beach in Barbados
Photo via Pixabay

Held in the original English settlement on Barbados, the Holetown Festival commemorates the original landing by the colonists with street fairs, parades, military demonstrations, and concerts with music ranging from gospel to calypso.