Just going to church in the BVI is an event in itself. The little girls are in their best dresses with their hair up in braids and bows, their mothers likewise wear their finest dresses often accompanied with a large hat and always with stockings (in that heat!!). The boys are in pressed pants and shirts and the men the same or even suit and a tie. At Easter they take even more care with their appearance and the girls and women usually wear spotless white dresses. Most islanders will spend the better part of Good Friday in church.
The Church on Jost Van Dyke
Dressed in her best dress.
Photo by Walker Mangum
Virgin Gorda holds an annual Easter festival. It is much smaller than the festivals or carnivals held on Tortola and St.Thomas but it's still a lot of fun. It commences on Saturday morning with a speech from the Minister of Culture, who usually encourages the crowd not to forget the true meaning of Easter throughout the revelries, and then the festival is officially opened by the current Miss Virgin Gorda. From then on there is nightly entertainment in the village schoolyard, calypso competitions, a food fair, beauty pageants, and J'ouvert - an early morning street party with thumping music and energetic dancing. The festivities culminate with a parade through the streets of Spanish Town on Easter Monday where groups of islanders are decked out in the most elaborate and colourful costumes. At no other time than a festival do you get the full impact of the Caribbean culture and pride in who they are. The parade ends at the festival village with lots of great music, carnival rides, food, and fun to be had well into the night.
Fischer's Cove Beach Hotel, where I stayed with my daughter in '09, holds a fishing tournament during the weekend. The weigh-in is a fun party atmosphere, with music and plenty of 'the one that got away' stories.
It really is a fabulous experience and not to be missed if you are in the islands over Easter weekend.
A word of warning: there's an old Caribbean legend that says if you step into the ocean on Good Friday, you will turn into a fish! Despite the revelry that proceeds Easter Sunday, it is frowned upon to work on your tan on the day of the crucifixion. Perhaps the legend was started by parents trying to keep their kids off of the beach for one day.
The Virgin Gorda Easter Festival normally gets going during the week before Easter. Call the BVI Tourist Board office at the Yacht Harbour (284-495-5181) for a schedule and more information.