New residents often lament over the lack of cultural stimulation in the BVI, but if asked about their impression of Old Government House Museum or attendance to concerts at HLSCC, they remain very quiet. The BVI offers an array of cultural activities, with new ones cropping up every year. Newbies simply need to know where to look to find them.
The BVI Theatre Series brings screenings of international dramatic and dance performances to the big screen at the HLSCC auditorium. The screenings are usually shown on the last Saturday of the month during the season which runs September through April. This year’s productions include Everyman starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire starring Gillian Anderson. The Performing Arts Series at HLSCC also showcases international performers in a concert-style setting.
The art of dancing thrives in the BVI and is celebrated through the annual BVI Dance Festival which features hip hop, ballet, tap and jazz performances by students throughout the territory. Other places to see dance include shows by the CADA Players, Killi Killi, and dance troupes during festival parades.
UP’s Cineplex shows blockbuster films at a reasonable price. The VIP seats fully recline and are worth the extra few dollars. I will continue to support the cinema and pay for the privilege to see films on the big screen despite the fact that the last time I was there, the water and AC weren’t turned on, the credit card machine was down, and all the concession stands were closed.
The BVI Dance School, located above Killi Killi Arts Centre in Road Town, across from prospect reef, offers both kids and adults dance classes, as well as drop in fitness, yoga and Pilates classes. Classes vary and include ballet, tap, belly dancing, modern and Afro-Brazilian. Tortola Dance Project is a five week program where students learn a routine during two one-hour sessions each week and conclude with showcasing their performances to the community at local establishments. Contact Diandra Jones on Facebook for more information.
Two of the biggest festivals of the year are the August Emancipation Festival (which includes three days off work for most people) and the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. Both events bring visitors to the islands, treating tourists to live music, rowdy parties, booths of souvenirs, local food, and general merriment.
The BVI Emancipation Festival commemorates the reading of the emancipation proclamation in front of the Sunday Morning Well in 1834. Every year, the BVI remembers this day and celebrates with parades, carnival rides, concerts and Rise & Shine processions (J’ouvert) in Carrot Bay, Road Town and East End.
Since 1972, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival has brought sailors from all over the world to the BVI to compete and play in the azure waters. The sailing festival starts off the week-long event with activities in the North Sound followed by the regatta at Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola. Sailors and non-sailors flock to the beachside regatta village for food, drinks and lots of chatter about the days’ races.
Other BVI annual festivals include Virgin Gorda’s Easter Festival, Fisherman’s Day, and Jazz on the Hill.
Spring Regatta was by far one of the best times I had in the BVI. I had only been “on island” two months, but I realised just how many people I already knew and met tons more. It’s a great social gathering with tasty food and unique stalls, and even a dance floor on the beach!
For a list of current BVI events pick up a copy of the Limin’ Times or check the Facebook groups BVI Community Board and BVI Events.