Monday, April 23, 2012


Antigua and Barbuda certainly do not have as many public holidays as other countries, but there are many local festivals that take place all year round, including the Antigua and Barbuda Literary Festival (I would LOVE to attend!).

January 1. New Year’s Day.  Antiguans bring in the New Year with a huge gala affair. There are barbecues on the beach, lots of food and drinks.  Decorations are usually still up from Christmas. Most bars stay open extra late, usually until dawn. Fireworks and live music fill the night. On New Year’s Day itself, there is a costume parade that takes place.  It seems that New Years is almost as festive as Carnival. 

First Monday in May. Labour Day.  Most people take this time off from work to spend with their families and friends.  Many people enjoy a barbecue on the beach with a lot of good food and drink. Some also prefer to travel to the sister-island of Barbuda (about 30 miles northeast from the island of Antigua). There are also parades going on during the day as well that are hosted by various trade union organizations. 

July 3. CARICOM Day.  CARICOM stands for Caribbean Community, an organization and agreement among 15 Caribbean nations, mostly members of the English-speaking countries.  It celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas (1973). There are TV specials on and a lot of political speeches regarding the state of nation as a CARICOM member.

Late July-early August. Antigua Carnival. This is a HUGE festival in Antigua. It’s filled with talent shows, concerts, parades with lots of elaborate costumes, food, drink, and partying. It’s practically non-stop for 11 days. I guess if you were going to head to Antigua, you’d probably want to go for Carnival.

November 1.  Independence Day.  Antigua and Barbuda gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. Everywhere in Antigua and Barbuda, businesses and schools start decorating for the holiday weeks in advance. Many people will celebrate with barbecues, parades, and lots of traditional food and drink. People will also wear traditional clothing and the national colors of yellow and red around this time as well.

December 9.  National Heroes Day.  There are four people designated as National Heroes, to which they are honored: Sir Vere Cornwall Bird (first prime minister of Antigua, you’ll find his named attached to a variety of buildings, the airport, etc.), King Court (led a slave rebellion), Dame Ellen Georgian Nellie Robinson (leader in education), and Sir Vivian Richards (great cricket player).

December 25.  Christmas. Christmas is celebrated around food and drink. Many people prefer stew pork as the traditional Christmas meal. There are usually several other side dishes and desserts that surround the main dish. There is still decorating and Christmas lights and caroling, but there is also a lot of other music and outdoor activities as well. However, this is still a holiday that is spent with family and friends. A lot of the traditions in Antigua were brought over from the British, except with a notable island twist.

December 26.  Boxing Day. I have seen this holiday listed as a Canadian and UK holiday, but had no idea what it was. Apparently, it’s traditionally the day that you take your Christmas boxes and share its contents with the poor. (A Christmas box is a wooden or clay box used to put gifts in.) These days, it’s customary to tip those who provide services and to donate gifts to charity. Some employers would give bonuses to its workers, and schools will sometimes create a Christmas box with items to send to poorer countries.

Up next: Arts and Literature

Wikipedia: “Public holidays in Antigua and Barbuda” “CARICOM” “Antigua Carnival”

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