The Crucian Christmas Festival (or Carnival) is a month long celebration incorporating modern day celebrations with standing traditions. Carnival takes place on many Caribbean islands at different times of the year, on St. Croix it starts in December and culminates the first week of January near Three Kings Day. These holiday traditions date back to the early 1800s when enslaved Africans were allowed time off to celebrate Christmas. During this time they dressed up in costumes, paraded through the streets, and visited other plantations. There was also dancing, music and general merrymaking. In 1952, these traditions were revived into an annual organized festival of events we’ve come to know as the Crucian Christmas Carnival.
While most of the Carnival action happens in Frederiksted at the official Carnival Village, there are events held island wide. Festival celebrations include musical competitions, pageants for Carnival royalty, and cultural activities. There are also fairs that showcase local arts, crafts, foods, and drinks. The best is saved for last at the culmination of Carnival – the Childrens’ Parade and, finally, the famous Adults’ Parade.
J’ouvert is celebrated in many countries throughout the Caribbean, including St. Croix, as part of Carnival celebrations. Meaning ‘dawn’ or ‘daybreak’ in French, this celebration is a huge tramp of people dancing in the streets behind calypso or soca bands. The festival starts well before dawn and peaks a few hours after sunrise. Anyone can join in in the fun and follow the musicians, and there are often multiple J’ourvet celebrations across St. Croix.
The Carnival parades are the highlight of Crucian Christmas Festival, as well as the last official events. A beautiful display of Crucian culture, the parades feature troupes dancing through the streets wearing beautifully hand crafted, vibrant, feathery costumes. From majorettes to moko jumbies, steel pan bands to fire dancers, the parades offer a unique chance for spectators to experience the magic, traditions, and cultural heritage of St. Croix.
December through the first week of January each year. Visit our Calendar of Events for this year’s Carnival schedule:
The parades and many of the main events take place in Frederiksted, either at the Carnival Village or along the waterfront.