rihanna-2_barbadosThe heat is on in Barbados this summer. On the heels of just making the UNESCO World Heritage list for their historic district in the capital city of Bridgetown, Barbados is heating up for Crop Over, the biggest and best-beloved festival of the year.  After the five weeks of Crop Over fun and entertainment, Barbados will stay hot when the long-awaited concert by their home girl, superstar Rihanna comes to town. Islanders are proud and excited about gaining a world heritage listing, and that exhilaration and excitement will continue throughout the five weeks of Crop Over all the way through Rihanna’s homecoming performance. Barbados is having one of its sweetest and hottest summer ever.

Feelings of pride and elation were first ignited in Barbados with the recent announcement that “Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison” would be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the 3rd of July, the people of Barbados took to the streets in celebration of the historic listing.  All types of vendors came out to celebrate Bajan tradition and heritage with the people of the island. The whole city of Bridgetown beamed with delight. Barbados Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison are outstanding examples of British colonial architecture consisting of a well-preserved old town built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries which is the reason for the World heritage listing.

Minister of Culture, the Honorable Stephen Lashley returned from the UNESCO 35th World Heritage Committee Meeting in Paris, France with the good news. Upon acceptance, he said, “The entire population of our country greets this news with great celebration and humility. Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison represent a significant addition to the World Heritage List.” He went on to state that Historic Bridgetown once occupied a key position in the slave trade as both a source and destination of enslaved persons captured in Africa and then distributed to the urban market of the town, the rural plantations of Barbados or to other colonies across the world.  “As a key element of the slave route, it now joins other inscribed slave sites in Cape Verde, Greater Accra, Mauritius among others,” he said.

barbados_cropThe excitement has continued as Barbados famous summer festival, Crop Over, is already under way. An opportunity for visitors to uniquely immerse in the dynamic culture of the island nation, Crop Over is a cultural celebration that has hallmarked the end of the sugar cane growing season for over 300 years in Barbados. In the 1780s, the island of Barbados was the largest producer of sugar in the world. At the end of the sugar cane harvest, the islanders held a huge festival to celebrate their hard work in bringing in the crop. Crop Over has been the main festival in Barbados ever since.

The festival officially opened on Saturday, July 2, with the Crop Over Opening Gala and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes at Queen’s Park. Crop Over 2011 promises spectacular weeks filled with all kinds of festivities including soca dancing, heritage fairs, arts and craft shows, firework displays, live calypso music and other cultural events. Event highlights this year include the Cohobblopot featuring the most popular calypsonians and bands displaying their stunning costumes on the 31st of July, and the Grand Kadooment and Emancipation Day celebrated this year on the first of August . Each day of Crop Over there will be elaborate bands parading along the streets accompanied by revelers and the sounds of calypso. This year the steel pan fusion event will be bigger than ever with another week added. The Pic-O-De-Crop calypso music competition continues, and of course, plenty of the legendary Barbadian Rum will be on hand to help keep up the spirits!

And if you think all of this is too exciting, wait until Rihanna burst on the scene. Barbados will be too hot to handle when Rihanna, one of the best-selling artists of all time, kicks-off her three-year partnership with Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) with her Loud Tour on the fifth of August.  The Loud Tour is a part of the Barbados’ Sweetest Summer Festival that has everyone in Barbados excited and anticipating Rihanna’s performance which has been dubbed as her ‘Home Coming Concert.’

Rihanna, with more than 30 million records, told the Bajun Sun Online that Barbados is a place like no other and one of the reasons for this is the spirit and national pride of our people.  ”I want each and every visitor to this beautiful island to experience what makes this destination different from all others and that is the spirit and warmth of my fellow Barbadians.”

barbados2Rihanna’s three-year partnership with The Barbados Tourism Authority is to exclusively promote the island as a tourist destination. Starting with the Loud Tour in Bridgetown, she will promote the destination through advertising campaigns, appearances, performances and social media presence. In addition to her concert in Barbados, Rihanna will promote travel to the island from Brazil during her appearance on tour in September.

Barbados Minister of Tourism the Hon. Richard L. Sealy said that in the hearts Barbadians, Rihanna is known as the girl down the road. “But to the world she has become a musical sensation and social phenomenon. She is a great source of national pride to Barbados and we are thrilled to enter into this formal partnership to promote Barbados as a leading tourist destination,” he said.

Barbados offers the most authentic Caribbean experience in culture, entertainment, and beach fun. In addition to music festivals, the island is a great place to enjoy sporting events, culinary affairs and performing arts. So if you’ve been longing to party in Barbados. Now is the time. Barbados is the place to be for the sweetest hottest summertime fun. For more information on travel to Barbados, visit www.visitbarbados.org