St. John Carnival, also known as the St. John Celebration, the second of the three annual Carnivals among the major islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands, will take place June 26-July 4, the Tourism Department announced Wednesday.
After scaling back events in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, St. John will bring back the festivities in person following the success of St. Thomas Carnival in April, the department said in a press release Wednesday. Locals and visitors will gather around Cruz Bay for the majority of the events. Participants and spectators can expect traditional food and vendors, calypso and soca music, dancing, mas parades and more.
In the release, Division of Festivals Director Ian Turnbull said, “Being able to host the St. John Celebration and Emancipation Day this year is an exciting testament to how far we’ve come, and it signals a liberation from the pandemic much as it does from the historic oppression that July 3 and 4 represent.”
More details will unfold leading up to the event, but the Tourism Department said it is excited to share the main schedule as follows:
June 26: Pan-O-Rama, a pre-Carnival steel pan celebration; Food Fair featuring local vendors
June 30: Village opens with more than 18 local vendor booths of food, drinks, family friendly day events and nightly performances
July 2: J’ouvert, the pre-dawn celebration
July 3: Emancipation Day Cultural Program
July 4: Parade Day and Fireworks
Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte, said, “The U.S. Virgin Islands is the only territory in the Caribbean with three Carnival celebrations annually. St. Thomas was a step in the right direction to return to pre-pandemic levels and we look forward to celebrating with our locals and returning visitors again.”
The Carnival celebrations on St. John date back to the early 20th century and are a mix of African, European, and Caribbean traditions. In St. John, Carnival takes place during Emancipation Day, July 3, which marks the day in 1848 that enslaved people on St. Croix rose up and forced the Danish governor to emancipate all enslaved persons, and 4th of July/Independence Day, the U.S. holiday commemorating independence from Great Britain. In 1960, the 4th of July celebrations on St. John evolved into Carnival and the festival lasted more than a week.
In between events, locals and visitors can enjoy St. John. Just a quick ferry ride from St. Thomas, St. John is easily accessible by visitors to the main cruise port. St. John is the smallest of the three islands made up of two-thirds protected National Park with 9,500 acres of rolling green hills and an underwater reserve. This tranquil world can be explored on more than 20 self-guided hiking trails or by snorkeling or diving its fish and coral-filled waters. The island also boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches including Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay.
For more information on the U.S. Virgin Islands, visit www.visitusvi and visit the festival page here.