Each of Antigua and Barbuda’s major festivals celebrates important aspects of the islands’ life and culture, from Antigua Sailing Week to the Cricket Festival. However, no party on the islands is louder or larger than Carnival, which commemorates the 1834 abolishment of slavery on the island with live calypso music, vibrant parades, and colorful costumes.
This annual celebration of Antigua and Barbuda’s culture takes place each February at St John’s Botanical Gardens, whose trees provide shade during the festival’s warri games (a board game of strategy), whose past participants have the prime minister. The Wadadli Day parade ends at a bustling outdoor fair where food, drinks, and handmade crafts are sold to the background of live dancing and music.
A & B International Kite Festival
Each Easter weekend, thousands of colorful cloths soar above the sunny skies of Antigua and Barbuda during this annual kite festival, when island residents of all ages make and fly kites to mark the beginning of spring.
Annual Seafood Festival
Seafood lovers will not want to miss this annual feast of freshly caught fish and crustaceans at Urlings Wharf each April. This festival, first founded to promote Antigua and Barbuda’s fishermen and vendors, has grown into a much larger event complete with craft booths and live musical performances. Children have their own fishing competition and bouncy castle, while visitors of all ages can take relaxing boat rides around Carlisle Bay or watch the exciting mango-eating competition.
Antigua Sailing Week
Only 10 boats entered the first Antigua Sailing Week in 1967. Today, this annual race off Antigua’s southern coast attracts more than 200 vessels. Antigua Sailing Week, held between late April and early May, is one of the world’s most prestigious sailing regattas and a week-long celebration filled with live music and lively stories shared each afternoon at happy hour at the Nelson’s Dockyard. The event also includes a formal black tie ball and a separate competition for ocean-racing boats.
Antigua’s Carnival, like its counterparts throughout the Caribbean, is a 10-day celebration filled with vibrant costumes, parades, calypso music, and plenty of partying. However, the people of Antigua have another reason to celebrate as Carnival also falls upon the anniversary of the day slavery ended on Antigua and Barbuda in 1834. Carnival lasts from late July to early August.
Antigua and Barbuda International Cricket Fest
Cricket may be Antigua and Barbuda’s national sport, but no match on the islands can rival the size of this four-day November event attracting Masters level teams from around the world. Afternoon coaching sessions take place prior to this elite event, which is accompanied by lively music and homemade meals of barbecued chicken, peas, and rice.
Ever since Antigua and Barbuda became independent from Great Britain on November 1, 1981, the islands have marked the day with noisy celebrations filled with chiming church bells and blaring sirens. All government buildings and schools are decorated bright yellow and red during the two weeks prior and the streets are filled with parades, music, food fairs, and galas for at least a week before.