THE Celtic Festival Barbados has just announced its line up for 2013. The festival fills the week from 23rrd – 29th May on Barbados with high quality Celtic folk music events from a wide range of visiting musicians, from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton Island in Canada.
This year’s organisers, Carol Anderson and Hamish Moore, from Scotland, have put together a line-up with a significant Gaelic influence.
The Celtic Festival Barbados celebrates the history of the connections between Scotland, Ireland and Wales and the sunny Caribbean island. Over three hundred years ago, around the same time that rum was invented on this island, Scots, Irish and Welsh criminals were given the choice of jail or a boat to the West Indies.
There they became indentured slaves working in the sugar plantations which you can still see today, or servants in the big plantation houses. Descendants still live in “Scotland” district on Barbados on the wilder east.
Around 5,000 – 6,000 visitors a year from each of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, make their holiday destination Barbados and this is the most revisited island in the Caribbean with a repeat visitor statistic of 43 per cent. Why is this?
“Barbados is easily accessible with daily scheduled flights from London Gatwick and weekly from Manchester”,” says Carol Anderson of PR consultancy The Business, based in Edinburgh and co-organiser of the festival. This year she is supported by co-organiser and bagpipe maker Hamish Moore.
Taking the stage at Celtic Festival Barbados 2013 is Seudan – a quartet of pipers playing in the old pre-military step dance style. Angus MacKenzie, Angus Nicolson, Fin Moore and Allan MacDonald. Joining them are the award winning rising stars – singing duo Jeana Leslie, from the Orkney Islands, and Siobhan Miller together with guitarist Aaron Jones.
Big Rory’s unique brand of street theatre with the stilt walking piper and his Scottish dog will arouse laughter and giggles, and Alan Kelly Gang from Ireland return by popular demand. Alan is one of Ireland’s foremost accordion players. Together with award winning Edinburgh Chef Paul Wedgwood, the performers will delight visitors and locals alike at a range of special events to be held all over Barbados for the last week in May.
For the last three years, the festival has kicked off on the Boardwalk on the south coast, at sundown, with a display of Scottish piping to a large gathering and this year is no different – from 5.30pm on Thursday 23rd May at Hastings Rock. And as last year, the iconic Holders venue on the west coast will partner with the festival for a major concert in their grounds, with the full line up of musicians.
Chef Wedgwood has delighted guests at the last two festivals, working with local chefs to input a Celtic theme to the menus – using local West Indian ingredients. His Caribbean Cranachan dessert is loaded with rum, coconut and mango! Sunday Lunch at the Atlantis Hotel will be peppered with dishes from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, on the east coast of the island. The festival co-incides with the famous SOL Motor Rally which attracts a number of Scottish and Irish racing teams who have joined in the festivities between races, in their kilts!
“When I first went to Barbados,” continues Carol, “I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I will never forget the journey from airport along the little local country roads, seeing the little wooden chattel houses, all brightly coloured. Passing swishing sugar cane fields, the cane arrows bending in the cool trade winds in the tropical heat of the bright sun. Local “Bajans” sitting outdoors in little rum shops (there are 1,600 of them – and as many churches I am told!) waving their welcome to us as we passed by, the famous reggae music blaring out.
“The warmth of the climate, nearly 30 degrees all year round, the warmth of the Caribbean Sea to swim in, the most beautiful coral beaches of which there are so many to choose from, the warmth of the welcome of the Bajans (the local name for the people of Barbados) is enormous. And everyone I ask tells me that’s why they keep coming back – it’s the people.”
The Celtic Festival Barbados this year includes a wide range of events most of them musical. But there will also be a fusion of flavours with visiting Scottish chef Paul Wedgwood working together with Bajan chefs. “The local produce inBarbadosis amazing,” continues Carol. “I just love watching local fishermen land our catch of the day – mahi mahi, king fish, sword fish, barracuda, tuna, cooked freshly over coals at the road side on a Friday (fish fry night) or in a fine dining restaurant, of which there are many in Barbados. The famous Hot Pepper Sauce and locally grown vegetables. Macaroni pie is another favourite and flying fish is the national dish.”
This year’s festival has been generously supported by sponsors including the Barbados Tourism Authority, Barbados Beach Club Hotel, Mount Gay Rum, Banks Beer, Drive-A-Matic and local radio station LOVE FM.
Special holiday packages are available in Scotland through Scotland’s biggest independent travel agents – Barrhead Travel – who are offering one week’s all inclusive (food and drink) accommodation at the festival host hotel Barbados Beach Club, on a wonderful beach on the south coast, at £1283 per person, including flights connecting from Scotland through Gatwick.
Their sister hotel SUNBAY, has room and breakfast including flights from Scotland from £849pp. BA Holidays have room only packages from London from £662 for seven nights per person room and flights.