Get Your Culture On at Montserrat’s St. Patrick’s Festival

Mountain Aglow Exhibit at the National Museum. (MVO Photo)

There are so many different reasons why people head to Montserrat for St. Patrick’s Festival. The food, the music, affordable airline fares, the weather, and the culture of course.

We scanned the list of more than 70 events on this year’s festival calendar to find the activities which focus on the more cultural aspects of Montserrat. You can find our mini cultural calendar at the end of this article.

The Montserrat National Trust is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and has added a series of events that you should not miss once you are here for St. Patrick’s Festival. The Trust also manages the National Museum in Little Bay and events will happen there as well.

The Mountain Aglow Exhibition at the National Museum in Little Bay will still be going on when the festival opens. However, it won’t be there for long so check it out Friday, March 6 to the 10th between the hours of 10AM to 4PM. The exhibit tells the story of the volcanic eruptions in music, photos and first person accounts. And of course it glows.

A Torch Lighting Ceremony is held at the Silk Cotton Tree in Cudjoe Head later that evening at 6PM. Now this is a bit of a controversy as it is the mixing of two different events in our history. The story of Cudjoe, a slave who lost his head which was hung in the Silk Cotton Tree as a warning, is believed not to have occurred around St. Patrick’s Day nor was it the reason for the rebellion or a penance for being a part of it. This will be the third year they have added the lighting ceremony to the festival activities.

Then the action moves to Heritage Village in Salem for the opening of the St. Patrick’s Festival. There will be speeches from the requisite officials, lots of music and dance and of course the bars around come alive and we are sure you will be able to find some goat water being served in one corner or the next. Bring the family and come out.

On Saturday, March 7 you can’t miss the young talent who take to the stage at the Montserrat Cultural Centre for the Junior Calypso Show. The students, who come from the local primary and secondary schools, sing in two rounds and this year must dethrone the Raymer “Styles” Seirra. Tickets can be purchased from the Montserrat Teacher’s Union, organisers of the event.

The National Museum is hosting Montserrat Old Times on Sunday, March 15 from 2PM to 6PM. Come and learn how to make cassava and goat water the traditional way. You will also be able to go under the tamarind tree to hear Trial Village stories from back in the day.

Always a breathtaking event for the family, even if you don’t have a green thumb is the Flower Show organised by the Montserrat National Trust and Botanical Gardens.

“50 Years of Conserving & Blooming” is this year’s theme and it will be held over two days on March 12 and 13. Opening day starts at 2PM and then on the Friday, the flower show can be experienced from 10AM to 5PM. If you live on island and plan to enter you can read the rules here…http://discovermni.com/2020/02/05/rules-regulations-for-montserrat-national-trust-flower-show-2020/

Kevin West is known for his evocative photographs of the Soufriere Hills Volcano. His images were used extensively in international publications to chronicle the tragedy and beauty of the eruptions. You will be able to see his work and some amazing new art once his exhibition goes live at the National Museum on Friday, March 13 at 3:30PM. At the event, he will also be launching a new book. The exhibition will continue until March 22 and opens from 9:30AM to 4PM on weekdays.

Two other events we want to highlight are the Afro Madras Fashion Show on Sunday, March 15, 4PM at Moose’s Place in Little Bay. Creations using the madras used in our national wear take to the runway. Even if you don’t plan to model, you will fit right in wearing your national dress or a modernised version of it, at this event and feel good about it too, as funds raised support a local charity.

We can’t speak of Montserrat culture without mentioning the Emerald Community Singers. They only perform a few times a year so it is a good idea to get your tickets early for their Sunday, March 15th show at the Vue Point Hotel in Old Towne. Start time is 7:30PM and you want to be there early to enjoy this amazing choir.

Your Cultural St. Patrick’s Festival Calendar

Friday, March 6, 2020

  • 10am – 4 pm – Mountain Aglow Exhibition, National Museum, Little Bay
  • 6PM – St. Patrick’s Festival Torch Lighting Ceremony – Silk Cotton Tree, Cudjoe Head
  • 8PM – Official Opening of St. Patrick’s Festival – Heritage Village, Salem

Saturday, March 7, 2020

  • 7PM – Junior Calypso Competition – Cultural Centre

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

  • 10AM & 1PM – Heritage Bus Tour of Cultural & Historic sites – Meet at Brades Community Center Car Park
  • 7PM – St. Patrick’s Lecture – Cultural Centre Conference Room

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

  • 10 am – 2 pm – Montserrat’s Old Times – National Museum, Little Bay
  • 10AM & 1PM – Heritage Bus Tour of Cultural & Historic sites – Meet at Brades Community Center Car Park
  • 6PM – Rhythm Night – St. Johns Centre

Thursday, March 12, 2020

  • 6AM – Scriber’ s Freedom Hike
  • MSS Heritage Pageant – Salem Campus
  • 10AM & 1PM Pick Up – Heritage Bus Tour of Cultural & Historic Sites – Meet at Brades Arts & Education Centre
  • 2PM – National Trust/ 50th Anniversary Flower Show & Tea Party – Salem
  • 6PM – Rhythm Night – Cudjoe Head

Friday, March 13, 2020

  • 10AM & 1PM Pick Up – Heritage Bus Tour of Cultural & Historic Sites – Meet at Brades Arts & Education Centre
  • 10AM – 5PM – Montserrat National Trust 50th Anniversary Flower Show – Salem
  • 3:30PM – Kevin West Water Colour Exhibition & Book Launch – Montserrat Museum, Little Bay (Runs until March 22)
  • 10AM – Until – Goat Water, Fish, Coconut Water & Ital Festival – Carr’s Bay Center
  • 1 – 4PM – Emerald Isle Bush Rum Factory – Launch Party – VIP Courtyard & Pool Deck

Saturday, March 14, 2020

  • 10AM & 1PM Pick Up – Heritage Bus Tour of Cultural & Historic Sites – Meet at Brades Arts & Education Centre
  • 1PM – Acoustic Sounds of Montserrat & Masquerade Dancing Competition – Marine Village

Sunday, March 15, 2020

  • 9:15AM – National St.Patrick’s Day Church Service – St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Look Out
  • 4PM – Afro Madras Fashion Show – Moose’s Place – Little Bay
  • 7PM – Emerald Community Singers – Venue TBA

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 (National Holiday)

  • 1AM to 6AM – Drum Jam
  • 5:30AM – Freedom Run & Walk – Cudjoe Head
  • 2PM – St. Patrick’s Day Parade – MSS to Heritage Village, Salem
  • 2PM – Slave Feast, Heritage Village, Salem

The full St. Patrick’s Festival calendar can be seen here…https://wp.me/p5V04c-5SO

Use #664GreenWeek and #StPatricksFestival on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram to stay updated on activities. Use these hashtags to share your posts with us.

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2 Responses

  1. Claude Hogan says:

    The context of slave Cudjoe’s head on a Silk Cotton Tree is indeed a separate physical event, but St Patrick’s Day is an observation of the total struggle against slavery on Montserrat. We are not observing events per se as 17th March is designated ‘Hero’s Day’ to respect and remind of the fights for freedom. So, St Patrick’s Day/Hero’s Day is the high point. The number 1 dash for freedom in Montserrat. I hope we can contextualise it like this and add more anecdotes from our history, which is really not unlike events in other Caribbean islands, except we, Montserratians acted to free ourselves as well.

    • DiscoverMNITeam says:

      Thank you for this Claude. I believe we need to collectively sit and craft the narrative and positioning for this festival and our story as a nation.

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