Anguilla's Summer Festival is a 10-day celebration that includes all of the traditional elements of a Lenten Carnival except it’s held in July and August, not Easter season, and culminates in a giant summer beach party.
As with most Carnivals there’s a host of lead-up events to Summer Festival, including evening parties, community festivals, music competitions, and -- this being Anguilla -- boat racing, the national pastime.
J'Ouvert: The Biggest Party in Anguilla
In Anguilla it is j’ouvert -- traditionally the opening act in Caribbean Carnivals -- that is the big highlight, with the costume parades playing a secondary role. At 4:30 a.m. on J’Ouvert morning, revelers gather in the predawn darkness to begin the six-hour march from the capital of Anguilla, The Valley, to the beachfront town of Sandy Ground. Rum and soca music help fuel the joyously undulating procession. Everyone is welcome to take part.
The long journey ends at the beach on Road Bay, where the party continues with live music from local and international bands, food and drink vendors, and the big Grand August Boat Race. Plan on some naps on the beach because the party doesn’t end until late into the night.
Anguilla Summer Festival Highlights
All of the boat racing competitions during Summer Festival lead up to the big Champion of Champions race at the end of the week. Other highlights include:
- the soca Band Clash, where bands compete to have the winning song played throughout Summer Fest
- the Grand Parade of Troupes, Anguilla’s answer to the mas parades of a traditional Carnival with colorful costumes and dancing
- the Calypso Monarch competition, where dozens of traditional calypso bands battle it out with steel drums and pointed lyrics