Music plays an important part in most Montserrat festivals, from the island’s Carnival which kicks off the New Year to the musical competitions hosted in Sturge Park each Boxing Day. Montserrat may be the only jurisdiction other than Ireland where St Patrick’s Day is an official government holiday, but the people here extend the celebration to an entire week. The Montserrat International Fishing Tournament and Volcano Half Marathon are among the island’s most exciting sporting events.
St Patrick’s Festival
In Montserrat, the lively festivities marking Ireland’s national holiday last an entire week. On the "other emerald isle," St Patrick’s celebrates both Ireland and the anniversary of the Montserrat slave uprising on March 17, 1768. Like Ireland, the day is marked by plenty of drinking, partying and a lively parade. However, Montserrat’s St Patrick’s Day Festival also includes masked street dancers called Masqueraders, a recreated slave village complete with a slave feast of local food and a junior calypso competition. The Freedom Run between Cudjoe Head and Salem Park also takes place along with kite flying, top spinning and unique music combining African and Irish influences.
This mid-July festival is a celebration of Montserrat’s most useful fruit, from which many of the island’s traditional musical instruments, eating implements and other items are made. A cricket match, gospel concert, island boat tour, and Irish lecture series are all on the regular schedule of this seven-day event concluding with a nail and hair show followed by a jazz concert.
Cudjoe Head Celebrations
The Montserrat village of Cudjoe Head was named after a slave who fled from his master during the 18th century. Cudjoe was eventually caught, lynched, and beheaded. The slave’s head was perched on a silk cotton tree as a terrifying reminder of the consequences of running away. Today, Cudjoe Head Eve kicks off the festival with a lively street party filled with vendors, music and fun. This two-day August event includes a string band and masquerades along with bikes and relay races.
Montserrat International Fishing Tournament
The Montserrat International Fishing Tournament usually takes place in October and attracts anglers from all over the world. Montserrat’s tourist board and fisherman’s cooperative are the co-organizers of the thrilling tournament.
Alliouagana Festival of the Word
Montserrat’s biggest literary festival takes place for three days in mid-November. Authors and bibliophiles come for bird watching, hiking and Soufrière Hills Volcano viewing parties in addition to fascinating literary workshops, readings, lectures, and panel discussions.
Volcano Half Marathon
Although the 2012 marathon was recently cancelled, organizers are hopeful they can host this half marathon and fun run again in 2013 between late November and early December. Montserrat’s biggest running event, the marathon takes participants past the former AIR Studios entrance, the Montserrat Cultural Centre and Soufrière Hills Volcano. More casual joggers and walkers can participate in the shorter five-mile track. All proceeds go towards Montserrat charities.
Montserrat’s take on traditional Caribbean festivities runs from mid-December until the New Year. It's a homecoming for several former residents who fled the island after the Soufrière Hills Volcano to come back and enjoy Christmastime and celebrate Carnival, featuring beauty pageants, calypso competitions and lively street parties. Montserrat’s famous Masqueraders are among the most unusual dancers during the final New Year’s Day costume parade. The 50th anniversary is upcoming and expected to be the biggest and boldest celebration yet.