Montserrat’s Festivals and Carnival

Montserrat’s Annual Festival, now called Carnival will celebrate it’s 60th year in 2022. It is a two-week festival held in December, ending on January 1 with a grand parade.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 version of the festival was limited to virtual events only. No announcement has been made about hosting an in-person event for 2021 as the island still has public gathering restrictions of no more than 50 people.

Other festivals held annually are:

Alliouagana Festival of the Word – This literary festival began in 2009 by the Montserrat section of The UWI Open Campus. Held each year in November, the festival has built a reputation of featuring many notable authors on the cusp of being breakout careers. In 2020, the festival was held virtually. You can view the events on their Facebook page or on our YouTube channel here…

Calabash Festival was the brain child of local businesswoman, Florence Griffith Joseph and was brought to life with assistance from volunteers in the Montserrat Hospitality Association. The first celebration of the Montserrat Calabash Festival took place in July 2006.

Each year the festival is held during the third week of July, which also commemorates the anniversary of our Soufriere Hills Volcano that became active on July 18th, 1995. Coupled with remembering July 18th, the summer festival provides an ideal opportunity for everyone to join in thanksgiving for our blessings, to experience enthusiastic, fun, cultural and interactive activities that showcase who we are as a people.

A central point of the festival is the feature of the products of the calabash fruit as a cottage industry. We have produced an array of beautiful calabash products, which are artistically carved and decorated for use in a variety of ways. Some such items consist of hand bags, hanging baskets, masks, decorative art objects, musical instruments, key rings, refrigerator magnets, lamp shades, bowls, jewellery and clothing accessories such as buttons and appliqués.

Since 2017, Montserrat’s St. Patrick’s Festival can claim to be the island’s largest festival, accounting for more than 3000+ visitors annually. This is due to it’s perfect storm of warmer weather and airfares which attracts large groups of nationals from the Diaspora as well as Irish nationals and others who want to celebrate on the only island in the Caribbean where St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday.

The festival now extends for over 10 days. It was cut short in 2020 due to the arrival of COVID-19. A virtual festival was held in 2021. It is hoped that the festival will return to its luster in 2022, with international acts, colourful parade and lots of cultural activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The Freedom Run and Walk, the not-to-be-missed Slave Feast on St. Patrick’s Day are among some of the highlights.

Leeward Island Debating Competition was founded in 1972 by the late Dr. George Irish and began with Montserrat, St. Kitts and Antigua. It has since been expanded to seven islands with the addition of Anguilla, St. Maarten and the British Virgin Islands and Nevis. It is usually held in the month of February with students from the Montserrat Community College debating team, representing the island. The competition rotates annually between the competing territories.

To learn more about festivals and other annual celebrations on island, contact the Montserrat Arts Council.