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History of Crop Over

The History of the Crop Over Festival

Crop Over once called “Harvest Home” had its early beginning on the sugar cane plantations during slavery. Since then the festival has evolved into the colourful street parade that it is today. Here is a brief walk through the history of the Crop Over festival in Barbados.


Crop Over History


1687: The Year It All Began

The Crop Over tradition began in 1687 to celebrate the end of the sugar cane crop. The last of the season’s crop was brought into the mill yard decorated with bright flowers like hibiscus and bougainvillaea. The first cart was usually led by a woman in a white dress with an elaborate white head-tie with a freshly picked flower tucked into it. (She would be equivalent to the frontline dancers in the modern-day street parade.) She was accompanied by the various sugar cane workers all carrying the final loads of canes. The last cart carried ‘Mr. Harding’ made of cane trash stuffed pants and coat.

‘Mr. Harding’ symbolised the ‘hard time’ between sugar crops when employment was low and money was scare. The parade of people would circle the mill yard 3 or 4 times so an enthusiastic crowd would gather to see the decorations and sing and dance together.

‘Swank’ was a favourite drink back then. It was made of cane liquor diluted with water, molasses, mauby, coconut water, rum and falernum – a very sweet alcoholic drink.

The Tuk Band and its troupe of folk characters like Shaggy Bear, Mother Sally, Donkey Man and Stilt Men were present at the Crop Over of the past and are still present today. Researchers believe that these folk characters are deeply rooted in African ancestral worship along with the music and dance practised at the Crop Over festivals on the plantation grounds. Like today, the music of the past had witty lyrics and a rhythmic beat, in the past the songs were often composed on the spot!

The parade would end with the burning of ‘Mr. Harding’ to symbolise hope that the hard times would not be too rough.


Crop Over Tuk Band


1958: An Attempt at Reviving the Festival after World War II

The Crop Over festival was disbanded due to the harsh effects of World War II on Barbados and the decline of the sugar industry. In an effort to fill the void left by the absence of the festival, the Junior Chamber of Commerce began to host an annual ‘carnival’ at Kensington Oval. This event featured float parades, masquerade bands, calypso contests and beauty pageants. It did not gain much popularity and after 6 years, in 1964, it came to an end.

Crop Over History


1974: Crop Over is Revived

In 1974, the BTA (Barbados Tourism Authority) revived the Crop Over festival. The planning committee included local stakeholders like Julian Marryshaw and Emile Straker. Their goal was to create an event that would attract tourists to the island during the ‘slow season’ which coincided with the Crop Over season. The festival began to mimic the popular Trinidad Carnival while keeping the most of Crop Over traditions alive, including the burning of ‘Mr. Harding’, the Tuk band and the Calypso and Soca music contests.


Burning of Mr Harding


1980s: Good Bye ‘Mr. Harding’

Excited crowds would gather at the Garrison Savannah for the annual burning of ‘Mr. Harding.’ Unfortunately, due to lawless behaviour of the crowd, such as throwing rocks and other things through the large fire, the event was discontinued in the early 1980s.

Crop Over Barbados


1983: The National Cultural Foundation Takes Over

The NCF was established in 1983 and has been hosting the Crop Over festival every year since then. Over the years the festival has evolved, some traditions were lost while new ones have emerged. The NCF focuses on showcasing all aspects of Barbadian culture including fine arts, music, dance, food and more at this internationally attended annual festival.


Rihanna Crop Over


2000s: An Internationally Sought-After Festival

The Crop Over festival has evolved from a celebration of the end of the sugar cane season to a local celebration of thanksgiving to an internationally recognised event. Thousands of visitors and Caribbean diaspora return to the island annually to be a part of the celebrations. In 2014, the Crop Over Festival generated $80 million in economic activity over the 8-week period. The once ‘slow season’ on the island is now booming with parties, events and life.

Barbadian born superstar Rihanna is known to attend the Grand Kadooment Parade annually along with other celebrities and their swarms of paparazzi. A great chance to showcase Barbados and the rich culture of the Crop Over festival to the world.

Today the Crop Over festival ends with Grand Kadooment Day. Colourful masquerades celebrate in a street parade from the National Stadium to Spring Garden Highway. It is truly a party unlike any other.


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Source: http://www.ncf.bb/crop-over/

2018 Crop Over Calendar

The Official Crop Over 2018 Calendar

Crop Over is a celebration of the culture and history of Barbados. This tradition began in 1687 during the plantation days to celebrate the end of a harvest. Today the celebrations aim to keep the rich culture alive through music, dance, food, arts and many other celebrations. Here are some of the most popular events for Crop Over 2018 in order of occurrence. (cover photo by lehwego.com)



Phenomenal Friday – July 6 from 10PM at Kensington Oval

Phenomenal Friday is a massive Crop Over song competition and party featuring both Bashment Soca and the Best of Soca Royale. This year’s finalists include Stiffy, Stabby, Scrilla, Rhea, Porgie & Murda, Marz Ville, Lil Rick, Jus D and Jagwa The Champ all from Barbados along with Freezy from St. Lucia and Sita from St. Vincent.

Crop Over 2018


Junior Calypso Monarch Semi-Finals – July 8 from 7 PM at the LESC

Support the youth of calypso. This event is divided into the 7-12-year-old category and the 13-18 category. Not only are these kids super cute but they are incredibly talented as well. Stay tuned for the finals on July 21st.


Crop Over Visual Arts Festival – July 8 to August 4 at Queens Park Gallery

This FREE event will be on all Crop Over festival long. It will feature some of the island’s best visual artists comprising of works in 2D, 3D and craft. The work will display the visual and aesthetic culture of Barbados.



Puff of Colour – July 14th location TBA

Calling all Soca Obsessed! Puff of Colour is one of the most highly anticipated parties of the festival. The event includes colourful powder, paint, water washdown, morning snacks and a 400 sq ft playground plus tones of party bonuses. Get your tickets early! Visit www.puffofcolour.com to learn more

puff of color 2018


Pan Pun de sand – July 15 from 3 PM at Brandon’s beach

This FREE event is dubbed the biggest beach party of the year by the NCF (National Cultural Foundation). Enjoy the sweet sounds of steel pan while dancing and liming in the sand at the beautiful Brandon’s Beach, along the Spring Garden Highway.


Soca on De Hill – July 22 from 12-9 PM at Farley Hill

Celebrate the music of the Crop Over 2018 season at this live showcase of local and regional talent. This is the World’s Greatest Soca Party! Artists include Red Plastic Bag, Blaxx, Patrice Roberts, Skinny Fabulous, Lil Rick and Family and much more.

Soca on de hill 2018


Tipsy all white Crop Over Beach Party – July 22 from 4-11 PM at Pirates Cove

Tipsy 2018 goes All White (please don’t forget to wear white)! This year’s event features none other than Kes The Band still hot off of Carnival 2018. Party from afternoon till the middle of the night to a dynamic DJ cast of DJ Puffy, Bunji Garlin and the Viking Band, DJ Jus Jay, Reko & Andwele and more! Follow @twistedbarbados on Instagram to learn more.

Tipsy Barbados 2018



Junior Kadooment – July 28 at Kensington Oval from 9 AM

The Junior Kadooment is a smaller version of the Grand Kadooment – without the street parade. Bands of costumed children parade around the Kensington Oval. It’s truly an adorable site!

kiddies kadooment


Soca Royale – July 29 at Bushy Park from 3 PM

Attracting over 10,000 people, Soca Royale is a non-stop 10 hours of partying (and the world’s best soca artists). There are two competitions – the Sweet Soca Monarch and the Party Monarch. The competition is jointly dubbed the MQI 98.1 Soca Royale.

soca royale 2018




Emancipation Day Walk – August 1 Bussa to Spring Garden

Hosted by the Ministry of Culture Sports and Youth this annual walk begins with the laying of wreaths at the Bussa statue in memory of the National Heroes. After the walk, there will be a short program with the annual Emancipation Day message.

Emancipation Day Barbados


Bridgetown Market – August 3 to 6 on Spring Garden Highway

This 4-day street fair features vendors selling crafts, local food and more. Bridgetown Market is a cultural extravaganza for the whole family. On the last day, Kadooment Day, you can see the costumed paraders fill the streets.

Bridgetown Market


Foreday Morning  – Friday 3 at various locations islandwide

This street party starts in the early hours of the morning and goes until the sun comes up. Thousands of revellers jam behind music trucks covering themselves and their friends in mud, paint and powder along the way.

Foreday morning


Pic-O-De-Crop Finals – Saturday 4 at Kensington Oval at 8 PM

Throughout the Crop Over Festival judges visit the calypso ‘tents’ to score performers vying for the Calypso Monarch title. 18 semi-finalists are selected for the semifinals and then 9 Calypsonians go forward to the finals. This event at a crowd favourite.


Grand Kadooment Day – Monday 6 from the National Stadium to Spring Garden

Follow this full-day carnival parade of visitors and locals alike. Dressed in elaborate feather and beaded costumes, revellers are accompanied by the rhythm of soca and calypso. Rihanna is known to attend Kadooment annually enjoying in the cultural celebrations of her homeland.

Crop Over Barbados


Have you experienced Crop Over before? Comment and let us know some of your favourite events. Learn more about Barbados by reading more of our Bougainvillea Blog Posts.

Crop Over Festival Barbados

Crop Over Festival in Barbados
Crop Over Festival, Barbados

Ahhh summertime in Barbados yet again! No better time to experience our rich culture in its full glory! Crop Over, Barbados’ largest and most anticipated festival has been traced as far back as 1688. Originally this celebration signaled the end of the annual sugar cane harvest, but over the years it has evolved into Continue reading