If visiting the Virgin Islands has been on your to-do list, this is definitely the year to do it. 2017 marks the one hundred year anniversary of the Islands transfer from Denmark to the United States.
There are dozens of fantastic events scheduled throughout 2017 to celebrate our rich yet complex cultural heritage, our arts, history, and naturally, our cuisine. These centennial celebrations will be on held on all of three of the Islands, giving you an excuse to hop from St. Thomas to St. John to St. Croix and back again.
History buffs will delight at the tours, exhibits, and symposiums taking place through the year. The history of the Virgin Islands dates back to the pre-Columbian (before Christopher Columbus) era in the Americas. He was the first European to discover the islands, but it was the Danish who would lay claim to and colonize them. They held the islands in their possession until 1917 when the USA purchased the Virgin Islands for the sum of $25 million dollars. In addition to the educational and interesting events that will be held throughout 2017, there are also many great tours and museums to visit on the islands. Naturally, our favorite is marrying our past with food on a food tour that takes you through the very streets where so much of our history unfolded.
Art lovers and artists alike should make it a point to explore the artistic heritage of our islands. Starting with the new year, a series of art exhibitions and arts and crafts fairs featuring work from several local artists will be held on each of the three islands. Outside of our cuisine, these art fairs are a singular opportunity to experience first hand how the diverse cultures present across the islands’ history helped to define our unique culture and expression. These cultural expositions pay homage to the melting pot culture of the islands and the influences brought over by African slaves and Dutch, Danish, French and American settlers to create something truly special.
Also taking place is a Virgin Islands Carnival, a month long celebration from April to May hosted on St. Thomas, the largest Carnival in the Caribbean. Vibrant Calypso shows and fabulous bands for the music aficionados out there, as well as parades, gorgeous costumes, dancing, fireworks, and of course, food! And lots of it. A Virgin Islands Carnival is something everyone who loves good music, fun, and food must experience at some point in their lives; if anyone knows how to put on a one-of-a-kind Carnival party, it is Virgin Islanders. If you can’t make it down in April or May, the Carnival festivities also take place on St. John in June and July and on St. Croix in December and January. With three opportunities to attend, there’s no reason not to go.
If you have children with you, during the second half of the year from September to November, a monthly Centennial Storytelling and Folklore event will be held on one of the islands. Storytelling is very much a part of our culture and is a well-loved art form that still thrives in the Virgin Islands today, with talented performers helping to keep the art as popular ever. Children and adults alike will be enthralled as storytellers weave their traditional tales. We celebrate Transfer Day on March 31st of every year, but this one promises to be extra special. Although events will be held throughout the year, Transfer Day will be one to remember. In addition to the fantastic centennial parade, a gala ball will be held that evening on St. Thomas.
And of course, with all of these celebrations, there are plenty of chances to try our cuisine, an aspect of our culture and heritage that we’re extremely proud of. Whether sampling food during the many Transfer Day Centennial celebrations, dining at our local restaurants, or getting a dose of history with some delicious bites on a food tour, we firmly believe that the best way to get to know the Virgin Islands and our people is through our unique, flavorful cuisine.
This year promises to be both an exciting and memorable one on the islands. Come visit and see for yourself. You may not want to leave!