Everything you need to know about St John Carnival!

The St John Festival has been celebrated for 65 years! Is a vibrant display of local culture and heritage which takes place in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the beautiful island of St John!

Friday 28th June 2019

Thursday 4th July 2019

Days to start

What is Carnival in St. John?

st john carnival

In the Virgin Islands, carnival is a huge deal! Carnival is always the biggest and most anticipated annual event of the year! St. John Carnival is about celebrating life and freedom which is done through costumes, dancing, parades, parties, pageantry, music, food, drinks, singing, family, friends and lots of fun.

But carnival in St John is about so much more than just throwing a giant party! St. John Carnival is about celebrating and embracing local culture and the unique traditions and heritage of the island, which are a mix of both African, European and Caribbean customs. This year St John Festival will celebrate 65 years of culture, mas and pageantry!

When is the St. John Carnival?

St. John Festival runs over the course of a month beginning with steelpan shows and pageants. It builds up to July 3rd which is Emancipation day, and culminates on July 4th which is Independence day with the parade and fireworks. The few days prior to July 4th is when most of the partying occurs and the main events are on like Food Fair, Carnival Village and parade.

Where is the St John Carnival held?

st john carnival

St. John is located in the Caribbean Sea and along with St Thomas and St. Croix, it forms the U.S Virgin Islands. It is actually the smallest of the three Virgin Islands. Most of the carnival activities take place in Cruz Bay, which is the main town of St. John.

How do they celebrate Carnival in St. John?

The rich Caribbean culture of St John is celebrated throughout the month!. Carnival is celebrated with great music, beautiful costumes, delicious food, joyful vibes and wonderful energy. The highlight of carnival is of course the awesome mas parade.

 Other highlights of St John Carnival include the Pan-o-Rama an epic steelpan show. As well as the carnival royalty pageants which select a carnival Queen and Prince and Princess. The St John Food Fair is another highlight, it is a full day where you can enjoy delicious local food and drinks. The Festival or Carnival Village is a local favourite with a huge stage that puts on epic concerts.

4th of July is parade day and is an epic spectacle of dancing troupes, great music, colourful costumes, steelpan bands, stilt walkers, acrobatics and more. Preceding the parade is J’ouvert a sunrise celebration that is lots of fun. The carnival ends at night with a spectacular fireworks display over the harbor which is a magical sight.

What is the history of St. John Carnival?

St. John Carnival days back to the early 20th century when the islands were still part of Denmark and the residents celebrated masquerade type events. The first official carnival dates back to 1945 when residents came together in Cruz Bay to share food and parade through the streets. The early celebrations only took place on one day but grew larger as the celebrations increased every year.

St. John Carnival Schedule of Events

st john carnival

Pan-O-Rama 2019

  • Date: Sat, 1 Jun 2019
  • Time: 4:00 pm
  • Location: Franklin A. Powell, Sr. Park

This event is incredible popular and is an epic steel pan competition! The 2019 Steelpan Bands that will be competing are:

  • EBO Steel Owls
  • Joseph Gomez Pan Busters
  • Rising Stars
  • West Stars
  • St Thomas All Stars
  • Uller Muller Panatics
  • Pan in Motion
  • Love City Pan Dragons
  • Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers

Festival Bike Race

  • Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2019
  • Time: 8:00 am
  • Location: St. John National Park Parking Lot

Carnival Princess and Jr. Miss 2019 Pageant

  • Date: Sunday, Jun 16, 2019
  • Time: 06:00 PM
  • Location: Winston W. Wells Ball Field

Carnival Queen Pageant 2019

  • Date: Saturday, Jun 22, 2019
  • Time: 08:00 PM
  • Location: Franklin A. Powell Sr. Park

Festival Food Fair & Coronation 2019

  • Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2019
  • Time: 03:00pm
  • Location: Franklin A. Powell, Sr. Park

st john carnival

The St. John Food Fair is the ultimate event for those who just want to eat, drink and be merry! Every year thousands of people come to experience an exciting mix of delicious local foods, drinks, arts and crafts. You can eat mouth-watering dishes like fried fish, lobster, fish pates, tamarind stew, mango and pineapple tarts, maubi, passion fruit juice and loads of other Caribbean delicacies.

Festival Boat Races 2019

  • Date: Sunday, Jun 23, 2019
  • Time: 03:00 PM
  • Location: Cruz Bay Harbor

Festival Children’s Village 2019

  • Date: Saturday, Jun 29, 2019
  • Time: 06:00 PM
  • Location: St. John National Park Parking Lot

Emancipation Day Program 2019

  • Date: Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019
  • Time: 01:00 PM
  • Location: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

Festival Poker Run 2019

  • Date: Sunday, Jul 07, 2019
  • Time: 12:00 PM
  • Location: Cruz Bay Beach Front

Royalty Introduction

  • Date: 12 May, 2019
  • Time: 5:00 PM
  • Location: Cruz Bay Beach Front

Torch Light Parade

  • Date: 3rd July, 2019
  • Time: 6:00 PM
  • Location: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

St John Carnival Village

  • Date: Fri, 28 Jun – July 4th 2019
  • Time: 07:00 PM
  • Location: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

The heart and soul of St John Carnival is the Carnival Village. Carnival Village or the Village, as the locals call it, consists of loads of booths selling delicious foods, drinks, arts and crafts from different communities all over the Caribbean. They are open all day and into the wee hours of the morning. There is also a huge stage where lots of musicians perform each night and lots of amusement park rides and games.

banner booking carnivals

St John Carnival J’OUVERT

  • Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2019
  • Time: 4:00 AM
  • Location: St. John National Park

What is J’Ouvert? J’ouvert which in English translates to ‘break of day’ and symbolises the start of carnival each year. J’ouvert takes place in the early hours of Parade Day, before the sun even rises! J’ouvert is a fun but messy celebration! Be prepared to get hit with flour, paint, mud, water and maybe even clay.

St John Carnival Parade

  • Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2019
  • Time: 11:00 AM
  • Location: St. John National Park Parking Lot

st john carnival

The Parade is the highlight of St John Festival and every year thousands of Virgin Islanders and tourists come out to watch the parade. It is an all day affair that lasts into the early evening. It is a spectacular sight filled with beautiful costumes, incredible music, energetic dance troupes, steelpan bands and lots of soca music!

Every troupe will select a theme that will inspire their costumes, music and dances. Some of the established dance troupes that have performed in the parade for years include Party Lovers, Jesters, Gipsy Troup as well as Infernos and Intrigue. The troupes can be as small as a having a dozen or so participants or as large as having up to 400 people.

The parade is a years’ worth of planning and hard work! You will see a lot of red, white and blue costumes because of it coinciding with the 4th of July! The event brings together the whole community and you will see all sorts take part from politicians, to doctors, lawyers, secretaries and even tourists perform.

Festival Fireworks Display

  • Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2019
  • Time: 9:00 pm
  • Location: Cruz Bay Harbor

Festival Musical Mix

  • Date: Sat, 6 Jul 2019
  • Time: 9:00 pm
  • Location: National Park Ball Field

This is an awesome night of soca, calypso, Dancehall and reggae music! A concert is held featuring popular performers from the Virgin Islands and several international acts. It is a popular event and lasts until just before dawn.

How to get to and around St. John

st john carnival

To get to St John you must fly into St. Thomas, a nearby island that is only separated by 6 miles. There is a major airport located on St. Thomas; the Cyril E. King Airport. There are numerous non-stop and connecting services from the US mainland. To get a quote for a flight click here.

Then you must take a ferry between St. Thomas and St. John. Public ferries run between the two islands run at regular times, all day long. There is a ferry terminal at Red Hook, located on the East End of St. Thomas and will take you to Cruz Bay in St. John. It costs about $6 to take you across. You can also take a private water taxi if you prefer.

To get around St. John your best bet is to rent a car at St Thomas airport and catch the car ferry barge over. There are many leading car-rental firms offering competitive rates. Get a quote for a rental car here. Alternatively you can also use a taxi to shuttle you around the island, or if you wish you can hire a scooter. To rent a bike or a scooter get a quote here.

Where to stay in St John

St John is different to other places in the Caribbean as it only has two resorts. There are also a few hotels, small inns, bed and breakfasts and plenty of private vacation rentals to choose from. If you want to be close to the carnival celebrations then we recommend staying in Cruz Bay.

But as there are so many options there is something to suit everyone’s budget, level of comfort and any other requirements you are looking for like being close to a beach, ocean views a pool or to be kid friendly etc.

Check out some of the best offers on accommodation for your visit to St John, or anywhere in the world, here.

What to do and see in St John

Tourists from all around the world flock to St. John because of its abundance of untouched natural beauty. Two-thirds of St John is made of two-thirds protected national park! There are no cruise-ship docks, few resorts so it is blissfully low-key and a great place to disconnect.

Seafarers love St. John and snorkelling, diving, swimming and relaxing on some of the pristine beaches are big to-dos! Hiking the beautiful national park is another must do! Or explore the sleepy domain of Coral Bay, or the main town Cruz Bay.

For more information about things to do, cooking lessons, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here

Take a Tour! 

Or if you are lucky enough to have a longer vacation then check out Tour Radar which has lots of different itineraries. St John is the unspoilt gem of the Caribbean! Tropical rainforest, white sandy beaches, friendly locals and so much more, it’s easy to see why St John is one of the world’s top destinations! Check out some tours here.

Before you go!
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance! Never travel without coverage! Being protected on your travels gives you an irreplaceable peace of mind. Don’t learn the hard way about the importance of travel insurance. Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads!

Share this publication

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on skype
Share on email
WhatsApp Chat
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Filter by Custom Post Type
WhatsApp Chat