Good Morning, Good Morning! The official announcement came last week from the US Virgin Islands Division of Festivals….This year, we celebrate our Freedoms and the culture of this incredible place once again! After two years without our beloved week long, full fledged Carnival celebration, our annual St. John festival IS BACK this month!
No, I don’t know yet if there will be fireworks on the Fourth of July. But trust me when I say, that is NOT the highlight of this glorious week on St. John! The food, the music, the vibes, the parades, the absolutely beautiful celebration of Virgin Islands and Caribbean culture…They combine to make the week leading up to the Fourth of July the BEST week on St. John. This year, over the spectrum of nine glorious days, we celebrate the Emancipation of the USVI and Independence Day.
The Carnival celebrations on St. John have triple celebration power. It is Carnival and it takes place during two important holidays; Emancipation Day – a local holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery and 4th of July/Independence Day – the U.S. holiday commemorating independence. In 1960 the 4th of July celebrations on St. John evolved into Carnival and the festival lasted more than a week. Today the event last several weeks and culminates on the 4th of July. It is called the St. John Festival.- USVI Festivals
I am so incredibly excited to get out and revel with the beautiful members of this Love City community once again in a celebration of life, freedom, music, food and dance!
Yesterday, the schedule of events was posted to the USVI Festivals Website and the festivities will kick off on June 26 with the Food Fair, Pan-O-Rama (steel pan competition) and locally renowned Cool Sessions Brass Band in Franklin Powell Park and the taxi parking area near the people ferry dock.
A few interesting changes from previous years caught my eye on this year’s event schedule. For one, J’ouvert, the 6AM celebration of Emancipation that generally takes place in the wee morning hours between July 3rd and 4th, is scheduled, instead, this year for the morning of July 2nd. Additionally, there are typically six-seven nights of the village being open. The village is the parking area near the customs office that transforms into a small courtyard of food, beverages and revelry with music lasting each night until between midnight and 3AM. This year, the carnival village will be open from 6PM-2AM on June 30-July 4.
But, I also noticed an exciting addition for this year. From 1PM-3PM on Sunday, July 3, visitors and residents can attend a Cultural Day Program featuring an amazing band of St. Johnians, Quelbe Resurrection. Quelbe is an official music of the U.S. Virgin Islands, also known as “scratch music.” So, for an afternoon cultural immersion experience, make sure to visit the village on the afternoon of Emancipation Day!
On the Fourth of July, DO NOT miss the parade in town. Technically it starts from the parking lot at Mongoose Junction at noon…But, be prepared for an island time style kick off to the day’s events 🙂 To best prepare for the day, get to town early, bring shade, chairs, festive attire sunscreen and your preferred method of hydration. And, DON’T bring your car. Parking is always chaos during carnival week, especially during the parade. And, remember, people still need to get a parking spot so they can work and serve you food and drinks! Arrange for a taxi to bring you into Cruz Bay OR pay to park at the gravel lot near the tennis courts if you must drive. But, don’t plan on driving THROUGH town between noon and 5PM on the Fourth of July.
So, once again this summer, we will be kicking off Carnival at the end of the month on St. John. Culture and Revelry at last INDEED. In the coming weeks, I’ll be digging into a bit of the history behind Virgin Islands Carnival, Emancipation Day and the J’ouvert celebration. Oh, and, for those of you who can’t be here to celebrate with us this year, definitely be prepared for LOTS of photos from the 2022 St. John Carnival Festivities, starting with the Food Fair on June 26!