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US Virgin Islands

Fun and festivities in US Virgin Islands - celebrations, festivals and cultural events

Every country has its own holidays, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as a part of the United States of America, share many holidays with the continental part of the country. Some holidays, such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day (the 4th Thursday of November), have the same traditions and customs. Some holidays, Christmas, for example, have longer celebrations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of course, there are authentic celebrations that tourists can see only on the islands, and carnivals are among them. If you are a collector of authentic holidays, you definitely should visit the Virgin Islands and get acquainted with local festive traditions.
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The carnival on Saint John takes place in June and usually has its culmination at the beginning of the next month – on the 3rd and 4th of July. These dates fall to two important holidays – the Emancipation Day (the Caribbean holiday) and Independence Day that is widely celebrated across the USA. The carnival is a chain of interesting events and exciting amusements. There are food trade fairs with all kinds of authentic delicacies, water-based entertainment, musical contests and concerts, dancing parades, and the Queen of the Carnival contest.
The morning of July 4 – the last day of the carnival – is the start of J'ouvert, a large street party that starts at 6 am and ends at 9 pm. The processions of participants always look beautiful and marvelous. People wear fancy costumes or replace parts of them with body paint. Some participants look “delicious” as they are covered with a layer of chocolate. From time to time, someone wants to have fun and covers own body with dirt. As other people do not want to become dirty, they try to escape – the whole bustle looks very funny. The capital of the island, Cruz Bay, becomes full of people because all the streets are filled with participants of the event and visitors. Copyright
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The time of the main parade starts. This is a large procession of people dressed in incredible outfits. Bold and bright colors are dominating in festivities. Everyone dances and the streets are filled with music, laughter, and noise. In the evening, at 9 pm, festive fireworks light up the sky and the celebration slowly finishes. As a follow-up event to the carnival, there is one more popular event – a poker tournament – next day. The carnival is not limited to one island – Saint Croix and Saint Thomas also host similar events.
The first carnival in Saint Thomas took place in 1912. When the First World War started, it was decided to stop festivities. The annual carnival was resumed only in 1952. The event lasts one month and falls to April and May. This is traditionally the time for numerous trade fairs, all kinds of competitions and contests. Some events are really unusual and original, for example, the contest of dirty young pigs. Beauty contests have also become an essential part of the celebration. Sometimes, more than one beauty queen is selected during these events. Calypso, reggae, and samba music styles are played everywhere.
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Calypso music dates back to the 19th century when slaves brought from Africa were working at sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean Islands. Calypso music is famous for its pleasant rhythms and memorable melodies. It is perfectly suitable for dancing. The singer follows the main melody of the song, and the band traditionally joins the singer for the chorus. As a rule, the lyrics tell stories about local life, have a satirical or moral meaning or simply spread the news. The music genre completely evolved closer to the middle of the 20th century. Also known as the Afro-Caribbean music, Calypso is a must at all folk holidays and celebrations. Even nowadays, Calypso songs are not only entertaining but also cover trending themes. No carnival is possible without Calypso.
The best Calypso signer contests are very interesting and exciting events. At the end of the event, people vote for the King of Calypso. If you have never heard this music before, it is high time to fix that. It is a universal mood raiser. The last week of the carnival month is traditionally the most active. The last day of the carnival starts at 4 am. Thousands of people come to the streets early in the morning to participate in J'ouvert. There are separate parades for adults and children.
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Children of all ages put on colorful costumes of different animals, historic figures, main characters of folk tales, and fantastic creatures. The adult parade is the major event of the whole carnival. This is an extremely colorful, bold, loud, and merry celebration. The parade lasts roughly 8 hours. People wear all kinds of costumes – from minimalistic embellished bikinis and Native American outfits with feathers to outfits of popular historic, film, and book personalities. The Queen or Queens of the Carnival start the procession. They sit on special automobile platforms.
Saint Croix also has its carnival during the Christmas period. The festive marathon starts at the beginning of December and ends at the start of January. Trade fairs, contests, voting for the king and queen of the festival, yacht regattas, dancing shows, costumed processions, parades, and concerts – the carnival offers a whole range of festive events for any taste. Frederiksted is the epicenter of all celebrations. Generally speaking, local carnivals share the same scenario, but different music, emotions, and costumes make this event look fresh and original ever time.
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