Come rain or shine, hurricane Irma or Maria, the
St. John Arts Festival is off and running again for its
19th annual event – February 16 - 23.
Join us in celebrating the history, tradition and culture of the people of St. John, with music, dance, and arts and crafts. All of it made possible and with many thanks to the continued support of Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, the USVI Department of Tourism, our many sponsors and of course, to the artists and performers and the indomitable spirit of all St. Johnians.
There has been no better place to show both visitors and residents alike what the culture and tradition of St. Johnians is all about than the “little park,” located straight off the ferry terminal, forming the first impression that newcomers experience – leaving no doubt that they have “arrived in the Caribbean,” with all of its color and warmth.
This year’s Festival program begins with a Children’s Day on Saturday, February 16th, when all the energy and exuberance of youth is displayed – including traditional steel pan band music, all-island children’s choir and age old Quadrille dancing. There is also a Children’s Art Show in the storefronts of various offices on the second floor of the Market Place.
Sunday, February 17th is a lazy day, with church choirs and a new St. John Recovery Choir echoing the indomitable spirit of the islanders, followed by colorful Quadrille dancing with its’ romantic links to days gone by.
Monday, February 18th – President’s Day is the highlight of the week-long event, commencing with singing and rhythms going back to the roots of islanders, with the music of the island’s number one traditional “scratch band,” originating with hand-made instruments and jaunty songs, as a prelude to a fantastic show of fifteen or so richly colorful dancers and towering ‘moko jumbies,’ reviving old dances such as the Bamboula from way back in the past and the superstitions of chasing away evil spirits
Tuesday, February 19th reaches out to the music and dance from the neighboring Latin-American Caribbean islands, and in the evening, in association with the St. John Film Society, there will be a screening of the award-winning film, “Sharkwater Extinction” by filmmaker Rob Stewart at the St. John School of the Arts.
Wednesday, February 20th, we round-off musical concerts in the park with relatively modern, but definitely Caribbean, reggae music.
Saturday, February 23rd, there is a master class in song writing at the St. John School of the Arts.
Throughout the Festival, adding to and completing the exclusively Caribbean atmosphere is the ongoing exhibition of hand-made Caribbean arts and crafts, plus food and local-grown fruits and vegetables, with the exhibitors in colorful Caribbean traditional dress.
It’s a little jewel of a show – uniquely St. John! Visitors can’t miss it as they depart the ferry, and they will be left with the memory of the colorful traditions and culture of the people of this island.
Frank Langley, President