St. John and Tortola Carnival celebrations – plan ahead!


Each year, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands enjoy Carnival celebrations to commemorate liberty, culture and life. People from around the world partake in the annual festivals as do island-born individuals who live away. This all adds up to a great need to plan ahead, from rental cars, to ground transportation to chef services, massages, excursions, even dining out!

The St. John celebration has already begun and will continue through U.S. Virgin Islands Emancipation Day AND the American 4th of July holiday. It is only a coincidence that the local July 3, 1848 declaration that set all slaves free in the USVI happened right before the United States’ Independence Day, but it makes for a wonderful blend of people and culture, culminating in a grand parade and fireworks on July 4, 2015. The festival village will be open beginning June 27, 2015 with live local and international entertainment through to the end. The Festival Committee does not maintain a web site, but you may visit the St. John Festival Facebook page or view the schedule at

Meanwhile, in July and the beginning of August, Tortola will come alive with its own Emancipation celebration! The Virgin Islands Festival Organization maintains a Facebook page, and festival highlights appear on the British Virgin Islands Tourism site. Pageantry, music, food and family take center stage in Roadtown and other Tortola villages from July 24- August 9, August 2015; August Monday is on the 3rd. Local and international music artists provide entertainment, there’s plenty of great food to eat, and the welcoming atmosphere is quite intoxicating!

Local food and drinks are plentiful, so items like goat water (a slightly spicy goat stew), pate (pronounced ‘pah-TAY’, a light and crispy meat pie which may also be filled with vegetable, fish, seafood or chicken), johnny cake (a fluffy and tasty fried bread), stew tarmond (tamarind), maubi (pronounced MAW-bee, a tonic beverage made from the bark of the Colubrina arborescens tree) drink and more will tickle your senses – get out and taste something new!

Please provide your arrival details well in advance during these times;  securing rental cars is a must since inventories are much smaller here in the islands. Build in buffers of time for your travel plans as even if you are not on an island with a celebration, thousands more people than usual will be squeezing through our ports, and this will create some congestion at times. Quality vendors book up quickly, so if you need personal services such as catering and chefs, massages, marine excursions, island tours, provisioning, etc., be sure to make your reservations and confirm in advance rather than waiting until just before or after you arrive. Holidays will close local government offices, so any official paperwork such as a marriage license, should be done as early as possible.

We want your arrival, stay and departure to go smoothly as you take advantage of the bonus of being here during these unique times. Enjoy, and as we say, “Roas’ ah time!!!”


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