Looking to escape the typical Christmas and holiday stress, but want it to still feel like Christmas? This is a conundrum many people face when planning for the holidays. Barbados, an eastern Caribbean island with residents who love celebrating the holidays, is a great destination for families and friend groups who want to shake up their typical festivities.
The locals of Barbados have their own take on many U.S. Christmas traditions, from bright decorations to communal feasts. Here's a list of Barbados Christmas traditions to take part in, as well as fun activities to make a holiday visit to the island extra special:
1. Attend traditional Christmas events
Just because you aren't home doesn't mean you can't enjoy traditional holiday events, like Christmas concerts, lights festivals, and church services. Throughout the month of December, many churches, parks, and venues host musical entertainment ranging from international Christmas music to traditional carols.
It's also common practice for many Barbados families to attend either a Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning church service. Inquire with your resort, hotel, or vacation rental property manager for more information about churches and holiday-specific events near you.
2. Enjoy traditional Barbados Christmas dishes
Most cultures have their own take on traditional Christmas dishes, and Barbados is no exception. The three must-have dishes for a Barbados Christmas feast are great cake, jug jug, and baked ham.
Great cake is made with dried fruits like cherries and currants, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and liquors such as rum and port wine. Icing optional. Jug jug is a dish believed to have origins in the Scottish dish Haggis, which was introduced to Barbados by Scottish immigrants in the 1600s. Ingredients include pigeon peas, guinea corn flour, salted meat, onions, and a mix of chopped herbs. The traditional Barbados baked ham is studded with cloves and glazed with pineapple or sorrel.
If you're staying at a vacation home rental with a fully-equipped kitchen, try some of these recipes on your own.
3. Visit Queen's Park on Christmas day
Queen's Park is the place to see and be seen on Christmas day. Located in the capital city of Bridgetown, the park serves as a gathering place for family and friends, with live music from the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, other gospel performers, and a Tuk Band. The main draw of this event, however, is fashion. Attendees wear their finest to showcase fashion statements for all ages and social backgrounds. Expect to see a variety of styles, from vintage outfits to the latest trends.
4. Rent a car and explore the island
The small, lively island of Barbados has much to be explored. Check out its various beaches, hiking spots, waterfalls, and attractions like Hunte's Gardens, the city of Bridgetown, and the South Coast Boardwalk. Given the size of the island, you can cover a lot of ground in one day.
5. Celebrate New Year's Eve on the beach
What’s a better place to bring in the new year than a warm beach? Known as Old Year’ Night in Barbados, New Year’s Eve is typically celebrated by the water. Expect to see fireworks, enjoy libations, and make new friends. Street parties are often found nearby.
Visiting Barbados Over the Holidays
Barbados is ideal for families and groups of friends who are looking to break out of their typical holiday routines to try something new. The beauty of the island combined with the long-standing holiday traditions makes for a fun trip where it can still really feel like Christmas.