For over six decades now, British Virgin Islands (BVI) has celebrated Emancipation Festival in late July and early August. Numerous, consecutive public holidays are provided as part of the festival to commemorate the Emancipation Act of 1 August, 1834 that led to the freeing of slaves throughout the British Empire, including some five thousand slaves in BVI.
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During Emancipation Festival, which can last more than 10 days straight, numerous events take place that seek to celebrate the freedom, culture, and history of BVI’s people. There are street parties, street parades, and “street jams”. There are musical performances, food fairs, and retellings of traditional folk stories.
And unique events like donkey racing, greased-pig catches, “fungi” music blasting from sound-trucks, torchlight processions, and the Miss BVI Pageant also add flair.
Also known as “August Festival”, Emancipation Festival in BVI takes place all over the country. But it is centred on the island of Tortola.
Besides the dancing and merry-making, Emancipation Festival also gives great opportunity to taste traditional local dishes, such as goat-water soup, corned pork, and sides which are affectionately dubbed “provisions”.