It’s always a celebration on November 30th in Barbados. This date is known as INDEPENDENCE DAY in Barbados. On November 30th, 1966, Barbados gained independence from the British who had controlled the island from 1627.
From that day onward Barbados has celebrated Independence Day on the 30th of November, however if the 30th is a Sunday the public holiday is transferred to the next day, Monday.
Through-out the day there are various special Independence Day activities and events.
However, Independence Day celebrations begin as early as October. During this period the local radio stations are flooded with all genres of Bajan music daily.
On the radio you can expect to hear folk music, calypso and Spouge artistes like Sing Out Barbados, The Barbados Folk Singers, Richard Stoute, and numerous others.
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A Brief Historical Account of Independence Day in Barbados
In 1625 the British arrived in Barbados in search of water supplies for their trip from South America to England.
Two years later, the British settled in Barbados and took full control of the Island from the natives.
The natives became slaves of the British who made them plant sugar cane in partnership with the slaves from Africa.
By the 18th century, the majority of the population consisted of Africans, a vast contrast from the English and Scots-Irish majority in the prior century.
During the time that the British ruled the island, the slaves periodically rebelled, leading to numerous unsuccessful slave rebellions. In 1834, came the end of the system of black enslavement throughout the British Empire.
A century later, the descendants of slaves in Barbados began to protest for equality, even though they were no longer enslaved, the British farmers still remained in control of the island.
In 1958, Sir Grantley Adams, founder of the Barbados Labour Party became the island’s first Premier. From that day, Barbados became a self -governing colony of the British and the country began negotiations for its independence.
After over 300 years under British rule, on November 30th, 1966 Barbados became an independent state. In the same year, Barbados became part of the Commonwealth of Nations, Organization of American States and United Nation.
Although an independent state within the Commonwealth Nations, Barbados still sustains its ties to the British monarch which is represented by the Governor General.
Barbados’ Independence Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
On Independence Day, many Barbadians choose to celebrate by attending parades, fairs, concerts, bus excursions, picnics and various community events.
Independence Day celebrations officially begin with a parade and ceremony at the Garrison Savannah, which is located close to the island’s capital city of Bridgetown.
It entices both locals and tourists alike, with hundreds of members of service groups together with military attachments and their armed and unarmed units, marching in acute precision and exhibiting their skills in numerous formations at the Garrison Savannah.
The official Independence Ceremonial Parade typically begins around 8am, with appearances from the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Cadets to the Barbados Defense Force, and the various other service groups.
The programme includes a combination of marching renditions, a salute and march-past for the Governor General of Barbados, prayers, the shouting of Three cheers, a presentation of the Barbados National Pledge and to conclude, a final salute to the nation.
The parade normally ends with the Independence Ceremonial March to the city of Bridgetown, passing through Bay Street and the Independence Arch in Bridgetown.
In 2016, a memorial Broken Trident, designed by Donna Redman in 2015, traveled across all eleven parishes under the theme “ Our Pride, The Broken Trident”.
Its journey was in combination with the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat’s parish events for each month. Barbadians from various backgrounds were designated to carry the Broken Trident to each parish during its year-long island tour.
The broken Trident which appears in the Island’s flag symbolizes the ending of its historical and constitutional ties as a colony of Britain. The new memorial Broken Trident represented the new era Barbados has entered. Williams Industries built and donated the broken Trident.
Its journey ended at the 50th Anniversary of Independence Monument which was built at the Garrison Savannah.
Throughout the island during the entire month of November, sports events, fairs, community events and religious services are devoted to the theme of Independence.
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Parliament Buildings, public buildings and some businesses are decorated with the colors blue, gold and black.
The roundabout on the highways are decorated with the Flag, national colors and cultural symbols. The Parliament Buildings are decorated with the colors of blue and gold, and public buildings and businesses are adorned with the colors and flags of Barbados.
NIFCA Creative Arts & Craft
One of the most important events that takes place during the month of November is the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).
This festival was conceptualized by a group of cultural enthusiasts. Since its inception in 1973, NIFCA has celebrated Barbados’ Independence by providing a national platform through which all Barbadians can display different aspects of their culture, from; Drama, Dance, Music, Literary arts, Culinary Arts, Visual Arts, Photography and Art & Craft.
This festival is centered around Barbadians competing in various genres of the creative arts.
In September, the competition begins and in November the finalists showcase their various talents. Participants from across all eleven parishes enter the competition in hopes of securing a gold award.
The Gala is the most attended event of the festival as this event concludes the festival and consists of presentations and performances from the finalist from the various competitions. The NCF NIFCA offers training, workshops, and provides camps for all disciplines of the arts at primary and secondary schools.
Through- out the years, NIFCA has grown, the crowds are larger, the production is better and more Barbadians are interested in participating.
The public can expect productions and exhibitions of the highest standard. The contribution, hard -work and commitment of the NCF has ensured the success and continued growth of this festival.
There are other community-based events that take place throughout the month of November.
The Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat is the organizer for numerous community events. The first and most exciting event is the Independence Lighting Ceremony and Bajan Folk Brew in the city of Bridgetown.
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Through-out the month of November, they also host other interesting events like the Parish Talent Zonal Shows, the Spirit of the Nation Show, Spirit of Independence Tour, a Mini-Parks & Gardens Competition and other activities.
The Community Independence Secretariat is also instrumental in presenting Parish Ambassadors. Each parish selects a male and female between the ages of 18 and 30 to act as Parish Ambassadors.
This programme aims to create a sense of community pride and nationalism among the youth in Barbados.
At the launch of the Community Independence Celebrations the two Ambassadors are presented to the public.
Independence Day in Barbados is a day for celebrating the end of the British rule on the Island. It is a day that most spend with their family and loved ones.
Conkies, a corn base Barbadian delicacy, Conkies is a sweet cornmeal based dessert that is cooked by steaming in banana leaves.
This delicious treat was once associated with the old British colonial celebration “Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th but is now prepared during our Independence celebrations every year.
Conkies are a favorite treat with many Barbadian families and friends are made traditionally in the month of November to celebrate Independence.
- 2 cups corn flour
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 lb finely grated pumpkin
- 6 oz margarine/shortening melted
- 1/2 lb sweet potato (optional)
- 3 cups grated coconut
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 oz raisins (optional)
- 3/4 lb brown sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp spice
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp almond essence
*Banana, Plantain or Fig leaves (singed over fire)
*Leaves can be substituted all together with wax paper or foil paper; however, your conkies won’t taste as good.