Out of Many One People, the Jamaican national motto, is rarely exhibited more clearly than during the Emancipendence season. For the non-Jamaican’s reading this post, Emancipendence is actually an informal term Jamaicans use to describe the period of celebration that exists between Jamaica’s two most prominent National Holidays. Emancipation Day, a holiday shared by most of the British West Indies, commemorates the abolition of Slavery throughout the British Empire on August 1, 1834. Then, one of the brightest days in Jamaican history August 6, 1962, marks the culmination of the Nation’s storied march towards independence. It is only natural that both of these events cause massive celebrations on a national scale and of course, natural Caribbean creativity and opportunism has lead to a plethora of unique celebrations emerging within the “Emancipendence” period. Most prominent among them are the “Jamaica Festival” for the national pride infused, culturally inclined set and the “Dream Weekend” for the Party Animal set looking to extend a 3 day weekend into a 6 day one. In between the two extremes are countless events and festivals celebrating Jamaican Nationalism and Freedom, here are 6 of the most outstanding yet outside of the box ways to celebrate Emancipendence:
18TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL DANCEHALL QUEEN COMPETITION AUGUST 2ND
Pound for pound Jamaica has one of the most influential cultures in the world, epitomized by how Dancehall music, Reggae’s aggressive and brash little brother, has spread its influence globally. Enter one of the biggest celebrations of Dancehall culture, the Annual International Dancehall Queen Competition. Hand-picked Global Dancehall Queens from Japan to Greece to Canada converge on Montego Bay at scenic outdoor bar and grill Pier One, for an epic dance battle of flips, twists, and provocative gyrations. Last year the trophy stayed home, so look for an even stronger international challenge for this year’s staging.
ZEN TROPICALE LUXURY OASIS BEACH PARTY AUGUST 2ND
Being grown and sexy never felt so good. Zen Tropicale Luxury Oasis represents the ultimate one day get away for the movers and shakers of the 30+ crowd. An exclusive guest list, all-inclusive top shelf liquor, a delectable menu of Mediterranean and Caribbean fusion delights, and a breezy beach experience, combine to make finding your “Zen” that much easier. The best part? A colossal “Cool Canopy” the size of a circus tent, centered in the middle of all the action, ensuring patrons won’t overheat while enjoying the sunny bliss. If all else fails, partygoers can put their sexy swimwear to practical use with a quick ocean dip. A definite “treat yourself” option for Emancipendence.
AUNTIE ROACHIE CULTURAL FESTIVAL AUGUST 3RD
For those that just want to wrap themselves in the Jamaican flag and take a dip into a deep pool of “Jamaican-ness”, The Auntie Roachie Cultural Festival, a brand new addition to the Jamaica Festival Schedule, promises to be a smorgasbord of Jamaican talent and culture. Storytelling, the overarching theme for the day to night event, will be comprehensively explored at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Center as Jamaica’s burgeoning Film, Literary and Television communities will be showcased through a Short Film competition, book fair, poetry reading and a storytelling spoken word showcase.
XTREME WET ‘N WILD AUGUST 3RD
Recognized as the undisputed climax of the frenetic “Dream Weekend”, the incomparable Xtreme Wet ‘n Wild experience, has emerged as a hallowed rite of passage for Jamaica’s 18 to 20 -something demographic, and a fundamental bucket list item for the seasoned Emancipendence party vet. A never ending production line of dazzling bikinis and glistening hot bodies wantonly flows throughout the entire Kool Runnings Water Park, reveling in the fun and frolic of the myriad water slides and water attractions. Liquor? Check! Food? Check. Water Slides? Check. What happens in Negril stays in Negril? DOUBLE CHECK!
THE DENBIGH AGRICULTURAL SHOW AUGUST 1ST – 3RD
By far the largest agricultural festival in the Caribbean, The Denbigh Agricultural Show at the Denbigh Show Grounds celebrates its 62nd Anniversary embracing the theme of “Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow”. Thousands of Jamaican families, from all walks of life, year after year embrace the rustic charm of the massive farm show. It has evolved far beyond a livestock and produce showcase, into an Agrarian Exposition incorporating aspects of Tourism, Health, Wellness and Youth empowerment. The most highly anticipated events will be the Celebrity Cook off, The Farm Queen Coronation and the customary Gospel Concert featuring a beloved all-star cast of local acts.
BATH BREADFRUIT FESTIVAL AUGUST 6TH
The Breadfruit though not indigenous, is an absolute staple of the Jamaican diet. The legendary seafarer Captain William Bligh, survived a mutiny to deliver the bread like fruit, with the very first Breadfruit tree being planted in Bath, St. Thomas in 1793. Hence the celebration of this feat with the Annual Bath Breadfruit Festival. The 200 year old Bath Botanical Gardens, provides the picture-perfect historic setting for the cultural and culinary explosion that the festival is famous for. Breadfruit cakes, casseroles, chips even wine can be sampled to the heart’s content, all to the backdrop of live music, poetry reading, drumming and Kumina dancing.