St. John Carnival

Have you ever experienced St John Carnival? It is a must for anyone who loves the island and the Caribbean! Modern Carnival celebrations in the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, are the result of centuries of cultural interactions and exchanges. For several hundred years, various festival traditions were introduced, interpreted, and reinvented by the people of the Caribbean. On the island of St. John, the celebration is called the St. John Festival.

The Carnival celebrations on St. John have three times the merriment of other carnival parties. The St. John Festival shares the holiday with Emancipation Day, which commemorates the abolition of slavery. The festival also coincides with the 4th of July/Independence Day, which marks the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In 1960, the 4th of July celebrations on St. John evolved into Carnival, and the festival lasted more than a week. Today, the event last several weeks and culminates on the 4th of July. It is called the St. John Festival.

What happens during St John Festival?

Carnival Village – opens June 28

The heart of Carnival is the Village. Carnival Village, which is called ‘the Village’ by locals, is made up of colorful booths that sell local foods and drinks. The booths represent local communities and include foods from Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Tortola, and Barbados. The booths are open all evening long into the wee hours of the morning. Also part of the Village is a bandstand where local bands perform on a nightly basis during Carnival festivities. A children’s village is located nearby, with cotton candy and other sweets. The children’s village also has games similar to the ones you see on Coney Island. Kids can earn prizes by playing games such as darts, knocking down milk bottles, shooting basketballs, and more.

The grand opening of Carnival Village is filled with anticipation and ceremony as the honoree, the governor of the Virgin Islands and the Carnival Queen, cuts the ribbon.

Food Fair- June 23

Food Fair is the event for those who love to eat, drink and be merry. Thousands of people gather for this event in Cruz Bay, St. John. The Carnival Food Fair is sure to have fried fish, lobster, jonnycakes, shrimp, beef and salt fish pates, kallaloo, tamarind stew, mango and pineapple tarts, maubi, passion fruit juice and a whole assortment of other Caribbean delicacies.

Food Fair is an exciting mix of local foods and colorful displays of arts and crafts. The food and art fair is made up of many small booths and tables. You can walk through the booths and tables and purchase locally made crafts, arts, and paintings as well as try local food, and drinks. Booths are set up by individuals and local restauranteurs for profit, and others are fundraisers for local churches. Local crafts presented at the fair include Caribbean dolls, iguana dolls, handmade coconut birdfeeders, coconut monkeys, paintings and more.

Food and crafts are not the only forms of entertainment at Carnival Food Fairs. There is always music, dancing, and appearances from Carnival royalty and political figures. Local bands usually perform steel pan music throughout the event, and cultural dance groups frequently perform during the fair’s opening ceremony.

Food Fair is undoubtedly an event worth attending. Walk through the booths to savor the taste of Caribbean delicacies and to enjoy the locally made arts and crafts.

Parade – July 4, 2019

The big finale of our Carnival celebration is a parade! St. John has one parade which includes hundreds of people dancing, marching, jumping up and just having a great time, all in planned entries. Group entries are called troupes, and if a float is included, then it is called a “floupe.”

Costumes involve a whole lot of creativity, and there is no shortage of all things bright, colorful, glittery, shiny, and beaded. There are usually feathers too! Headpieces and ornamentation on the wrists, arms, knees, and neck are typical staples of the costumes, which sometimes include body paint. Masqueraders might hold decorated sticks or other items that complement their outfits.

Whether the costume is large or small, the troupe has a cultural theme or underwater theme, whether it’s children or adults — the Carnival parades in the U.S. Virgin Islands dazzle parade watchers. Months of preparation go into each troupes’ parade entry, and the result is an impressive display of beauty, creativity, and energy!

Everyone should experience St John Carnival at least once. Search our suites now and book your stay with us! 

For more information visit the official information page here.