British Virgin Islands
CULTURAL LIFE
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Cultural Calendar
Virgin Gorda Easter Festival
BVI Spring Regatta
August Festival
Foxy's Halloween Party
CYS Boat Show
BVI Christmas

While guests can only know a part of this vibrant culture, the vacation visit is enhanced by getting to know a little of this unique tropical land.

People. Described as friendly, yet reserved, in some combination of British and island cultures, BVIslanders value education highly, it is said, as a result of their history. Noted for their entrepreneurial spirit, the BVI is typical of many West Indian island nations in this regard.

Arawaks. Native American inhabitants of the Caribbean islands as well Florida and coastal South America, the Arawaks were skilled potters, weavers, and woodworkers. See this unique pre-Columbian figure of a man with a bird face.

Extensive settlements have been found on Tortola, including an extensive ceremonial village near the Belmont Mound which the Arawaks may have worshipped as a zemi.

Artifacts including two small zemis (and a cassava or yucca griddle) recently found nearby are on display at the Virgin Island Folk Museum in Road Town. See Archeologists Uncover Pre-historic Village on Tortola.

Also, Arawak rock carvings are found at the St. John National Park in the USVI.

History. The Old and the Unexplored: a Fresh Look at BVI History provides several fascinating glimpses of BVI history by historian Vernon Pickering, taking us back to the time when the Sir Francis Drake Channel was "Freebooters Gangway." See also Virgin Gorda: On Foot or By Car, The BVI's Formidable Forts by Claudia Colli and a Documentary History of the Cinnamon Bay Plantation 1718-1917 about St. John.

See the Island Sun's Twentieth Century British Virgin Islands A Chronology by Vernon Pickering.  Also, 1949-1999: A Golden Anniversary and Golden Jubilee of the March of 1949 Observed.

See pictures of Road Town a generation ago before part of the harbour was filled in.

See Background: the BVI in the mid-1950s before the tourist industry came to the  BVI.

To Pirates & Privateers

Rhone(Museum).jpg (3784 bytes)Shipwrecks. The most famous shipwreck in the BVI is the Wreck of the Rhone off Salt Island (this picture comes from the Rhone Museum).

Also, there are recently created dive wrecks, including the original Willie T off Peter Island. However, for sheer historical fascination, the imagination is captured by Anegada's Dive Wreck Treasury, with over 300 wrecks, most from the days of sail, including the famous HMS Astrea.

Landmarks and Sights.
J.R.O'Neal Botanic Gardens
Fort Burt
Mt. Healthy Windmill
Sage Mountain National Park
Virgin Island Folk Museum

Churches. The BVI have a rich spiritual life and support many denominations and churches.

August Festival.
A special occasion
, the Festival
is a time when BVIslanders come home from around the globe. A multifaceted celebration, the August Festival has FestivalCostume(Malone)icon.jpg (10714 bytes)aspects of the Caribbean Carnival, such as the dancing troupes, fantastic costumes and the mako jumbies on stilts. Behind the revelry is a more serious purpose, the celebration of its emancipation from slavery in 1834, so it is sometimes called the BVI Emancipation Festival.

To begin this half-month long event, a Festival Village is constructed in late July in Road Town.  Events include an international Calypso Show and the Miss BVI Pageant (who goes on to compete for Miss Universe) as well as a host of lesser activities. Local food and drink is featured as well as entertainment by local musicians. Things get moving late at night generally and "rise and shine" tramps featuring local bands are held before sunrise. The festival culminates in the Grand Parade on the first Monday in August, symbolizing the BVIslander's unquenchable love of life.

Books.
The B-V-I Bookstore has books about the BVI. A Treasured Moment in History discusses the publication of Vernon Pickering's book on the early history of the BVI.

Noted Trinidadian Author Visits BVI: "Young people throughout the English-speaking Caribbean can recall . . . . . some of his most popular short stories in the collection Cricket in the Road, such as Drunkard of the River, The Valley of Cocoa, The Patch of Guava and The Sapodilla Tree."

Government. A British colony with a self-elected parliamentarian form of government, its culture contributes to a well-managed and upright government with an emphasis on a strong economy within a context of conserving its precious nature and marine environment.

Stamps.
BVI stamps are a rich source of its culture. See Island Sun stamp features, including Salt Island Stamps Win 1998 Popularity Poll.

Occupying the Old Administration Building (Crown Governor's residence) in Road Town is its Museum well as the Post Office (where collector's stamps are sold) and its Stamp Room with a 1787-2001 catalogue of BVI stamps, known worldwide among philatelists for their exquisite design and fascinating subjects (photo: BVI Welcome).

To Art in the Islands.
 

Jewelry. J& J Coin Jewelry features gold hummingbird motif cuff links on a silver background. See Shops in the BVI for jewelry shops.

Fashion. Fashion shows are held at Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. Appearing here is Anesta Frett, manager and buyer at The Boutique at Lambert Bay, an excellent source of handpainted Trinidad and Tobago fashions.

Photography. Photography is practiced far and wide, by all levels from novice tourist to experienced professional. And pictures are everywhere from resort brochures to internet trip reports.

Allamanda Gallery

At 124 Main Street past The Corner (284/494-6680), the Allamanda Gallery has an extensive collection of photographs by owner Amanda Baker, who specializes in wedding photography (photo: Allamanda Gallery blog).

Here are ScubaMom's Screensavers. Lynn McKamey, the ScubaMom, is webmaster for a number of BVI sites, including fancy resorts. But the inside story is that her husband Kenny, with a background in professional photograhy, takes many of the pictures, including these great Island Images of Guana.

Some fantastic underwater photography appears in Diving British Virgin Islands by Jim and Ooile Scheiner, reviewed here.

Music.
Music in the BVI
, with a shared island flavor, is nonetheless quite diverse. Selections from Quito Rymer are featured.

Upcoming Events.
See the
Limin' Times.

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