The BVI has a vast array of events throughout the year, but none are as vibrant, colourful or meaningful as the Emancipation Festival. Held in late July and early August, this annual festival celebrates the 1834 Emancipation Act which abolished slavery in the British West Indies. The festival is a time for everyone to congregate and rejoice in the freedoms that were fought for by the islands’ ancestors.


Parties and celebrations are held far and wide and activities include live music performances, dancing, street art, donkey and horse races, a freedom march, emancipation church services, boat races, parties, and parades. The centre of the festival is the purpose-built pop-up village in Road Town, Tortola which has a number of bandstands and an array of food-stalls and bars. The atmosphere is captivating and not to be missed; however, those living in Road Town and the central south side of the island can find themselves going without sleep as the partying is loud and steady for nearly two weeks.

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If you need to get up for work (which some residents may do despite the holiday) or if you have youngsters in the house, the following tips might help with sound control.


Whatever you do, make sure you find some time to enjoy and participate in the celebrations. There is a great deal of uncertainty in the world at the moment and celebrating this Territory’s emancipation under a warm sky is a really special way to spend a summer’s day and/or evening.