Spend this Christmas in the Caribbean and ditch rainy days and grey skies for bright sun and beautiful beaches! The Caribbean is a great place to visit for Christmas and New Year as for starters, the weather is great. December marks the start of the dry season and the temperature is just perfect. You can expect warm sunny conditions on most days with little need to worry about storms spoiling your stay.
On top of the great weather, the Bajans like to make the most of Christmas. Being a predominantly Christian society, Christmas is an important part of the island calendar. Midnight Mass, Carols by Candlelight and early morning services are all very well attended, and can be found in the numerous churches that are all over the island. It’s also the start of the main tourist season, when houses and businesses all get a spruce up with a lick of paint, and with Christmas lights adorning buildings everywhere. Christmas and Boxing Day are both national holidays and it’s a time for family and friends.
On the day itself, families enjoy the festivities in any number of ways. A popular pastime is Christmas morning in Queens Park in Bridgetown. Dressing up smartly is an important part of this tradition, and being seen in your best outfit whilst taking in the music of Royal Barbados Police Force Band and other performers is all part of the fun!
The morning at Queens Park is then usually followed by a traditional Bajan Christmas lunch. Food is an important part of Christmas in the Caribbean, and typically families get together and enjoy the traditional dishes of baked ham, jug jug and Bajan black cake (see further descriptions below!). You will find many restaurants are actually closed on Christmas Day - so if you are planning to eat out then you will have to plan ahead…
Generally the ham is baked with a glaze. The addition of spices such as cloves and fruit such as pineapple add to the tropical feel of this dish - which can be enjoyed hot or cold - making it an ideal dish for Christmas in Barbados.
Jug Jug is a traditional Bajan Christmas dish and is a variation on haggis. It’s a reminder that the Scots played an important role in the history of the island and the ingredients include a type of green pea called pigeon peas, a type of corn called guinea corn, and the addition of herbs and meat.
Bajan Black Cake
This rich fruit cake is also an important tradition of the island. The key to the success of a great Bajan Black Cake is in the preparation. The combination of dried fruit and liquor, plus the time, love and traditional is all what makes this a time honoured Bajan Christmas dish! A shop bought cake just isn’t the same!
The beach is of course a popular place to be visit on Christmas day - especially with visitors to the island. Spending the day in swimwear with bright sunshine and white beaches, and perhaps a Santa hat, is a far cry from the cold Christmases of the northern hemisphere and much appreciated by travellers.
‘Seeing the lights’ is also a fun pastime if you are spending Christmas in Barbados. Homes and businesses go all out with their Christmas lights, with red and green being especially popular colours. Come the evening and Bridgetown, the Chamberlain Bridge, Independence Square and the wharf are all transformed by a mass of colourful lights!
Finally, Boxing Day is another important part of Christmas in the Caribbean and many people use this day to meet up with friends, arrange picnics and exchange presents. Garrison Savannah - the famous Bridgetown horse racing track - holds ‘Boxing Day at the Races’ which is very popular with race goers and families alike.
New Year in the Caribbean
As well as Christmas in the Caribbean, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are also a great time to visit the islands. In fact New Year’s Eve is called Old Year’s Night throughout the Caribbean. Typically the islands see a huge influx of visitors, including the rich and famous, all seeking a little winter sunshine and the chance to top up their tan.
Generally the celebrations go on well into the night with music, beach parties and fireworks all part of the festivities. Many restaurants and hotels offer set menus which are very popular and need to be booked in advance. The beach bars on the island are all popular haunts and the St Lawrence Gap is also a popular destination for party goers! This year Bridgetown is holding a free ‘Bridgetown Countdown Old Year’s Night Celebration’ with a range of food and entertainment on offer, and culminating with a midnight firework display with the Wharf basin as a stunning backdrop.
It is tradition for some revellers to go on right through the night, and to then drive over to the east coast of the island to view the sunrise and to welcome in the New Year. Some beach bars and restaurants now offer breakfast specials which have become popular with visitors and Bajans alike.
Following the festivities of the night before, a typical New Year’s Day usually involves a relaxed day at the beach and perhaps a picnic. This is a national holiday in Barbados so even the locals enjoy this time with family and friends.
If you are thinking of spending Christmas or New Year in the Caribbean, or even better both, then we have some great Barbados accommodation here at ZenBreak. Perfectly located for making the most of everything the season has to offer.
We do hope you have enjoyed hearing about everything that is going on over the Christmas and New Year break, on our beautiful tropical island. We look forward to seeing you soon.