The festival commemorates the Emancipation Act of August 1, 1834 which abolished slavery in the British West Indies – freeing over 5,000 slaves in the British Virgin Islands. So the festival is an annual celebration of freedom and cultural history.
The August Festival, as it is also called, involves celebrations on all of the islands of the BVI. Throughout the festival, parties and events are held in three locations on the main island of Tortola – Road Town Village, East End and Carrot Bay. Enjoy parades with live music on sound trucks, dancing, street performances, donkey races, boat races, and even a greased pig catch. This is a great way to experience BVI’s own traditional form of music known as fungi.
This is a great time to try local food and drink, so taste traditional dishes like goat water soup, various pork dishes like corned pork or dove pork, mutton, and be sure to try some of the side dishes called provisions.
Highlights of the Festival include:
- Torch Light Procession & Opening
- Prince & Princess Show
- Festival Village
- Miss BVI Pageant
- The Rise and Shine Tramp
- Grand Parade
- Festival Horse Races at Ellis Thomas Downs
- East End / Long Look Festival
- Carrot Bay Cultural Fiesta with a pig roast, donkey races, entertainment, and a fishing tournament
This celebration is a highlight of the year for residents, and is a wonderful opportunity for tourists to experience a bit of BVI cultural history.