British Virgin Islands celebrates its 51st Emancipation Festival

Islands Pay Homage to Their Past

Road Town, Tortola, BVI – Cuisine, calypso, beauty pageants, costume competitions, parades and more highlight the British Virgin Islands biggest bash, the Annual Emancipation Festival, themed Our Past, Our Future, Our Culture, July 22 – August 6, 2005.

The festival, also known as the August Festival, commemorates the ending of slavery in the Territory and the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation on August 1, 1834, which freed all 5,133 slaves on the islands.

Since its inception, the festival kicks off with an exciting lineup of music, entertainment and food. The Villages opening night will feature performances by the BVIs own Lashing Dogs and the incomparable soca star Rupee. International Reggae Night will feature local artist Quito Rymer, Midnight Band out of St. Croix and legendary reggae superstar, Bunny Wailer, will close out the night.

This year’s international Calypso Show will showcase calypso kings and queens from several Caribbean islands such as; Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, Anguilla, St. Vincent and Grenada. Also, for the first time, there will be a local talent night in the village where residents of the BVI can take the stage and show off their talents in the areas of dance, drama, rapping and singing.

On July 29th at the annual Food Fair, the island’s best cooks will serve up indigenous local delicacies of the islands including goat soup, crab and rice, stewed mutton, saltfish patties, peas soup, rotis and mauby, and other treats that are sure to please the palate.

The Freedom March will proceed to the Sunday Morning Well, July 31, where the Emancipation Service will take place on Tortola, to commemorate the signing of the proclamation. The governor or a minister reads the Emancipation Proclamation at the Sunday Morning Well, where it was originally proclaimed in 1834 ending slavery in the Territory.

For early risers, August Monday Rise & Shine Tramp, also know as the jouvert, will take place on August 1 beginning at 4am. This will be followed by the Sun Rise Service and then the Grand Festival Parade, the highlight of the annual event. This fabulous parade features costumed revelers in colorful floats; lively music with equal abandon; world famous Mocko Jumbies, also known as stilt dancers, that tower over the crowd entertaining them with their antics; and fancy moves from dance troupes and school majorettes. The procession slowly winds through the streets of Tortola lasting 2 – 3 hours.

While on the islands, guests also can enjoy the crowning of a new Miss. BVI, exciting water sports, horseback riding, an international car show, great accommodations and the best beaches in the Caribbean.

For more information on the British Virgin Islands and a schedule of events for the Emancipation Festival, visit

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