Music, history and the sea
Anguilla residents join with visitors to celebrate throughout the year. Here are a few of the top festivals and events.
Moonsplash — March
Musician Bankie Banx was one of the Eastern Caribbean’s first reggae artists, forming his band The Roots and Herbs in 1970. After spending years traveling through Europe, he ended up in New York where he developed his unique sound that was a fusion of folk and reggae, leading to his nickname, “the Anguillan Bob Dylan.” Today Anguillan musicians are celebrated during the island’s March festival, Moonsplash. Banx started the annual event in the early 1990s. Originally a series of beach concerts on Anguilla and surrounding islands the event has grown and eventually found its home at Banx’s Dune Preserve. Formerly referred to as Planet Dune, the bar/restaurant on Rendezvous Bay is built from old boats and salvaged wood and serves as the main stage for the three-day event.
Festival Del Mar — Easter
Held around Easter in the quaint fishing village of Island Harbor on the east end of the island, Festival Del Mar is a celebration of all things of the sea. This normally quiet working fishing village comes to life with real and model boat races, a fishing tournament, swim races, a traditional cooking competition and crab races. There are also plenty of concerts, food and drink.
Anguilla Regatta — May
Each May, top sailors from around the world and Anguilla, battle in the island’s annual regatta for glory and to raise money for the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club. The four-day event offers beach parties as well as races between spinnaker, non-spinnaker, monohull, and multihull sailboats. Spectators line Rendezvous Bay, Meads Bay and other beaches to cheer on their favorites. For more information on participating and last year’s results, visit the Anguilla Regatta website>
Anguilla Day – May 30
At one time in the island’s history, administrators in nearby St. Kitts ran Anguilla. In 1967 there was an uprising to dispel the St. Kitt’s police. As a result, for two years, the island gained control of its own destiny and was established as the Republic of Anguilla. Ultimately, Anguilla returned to the British Empire and remains an overseas territory of the U.K., but island residents still celebrate the success of this show of independence on May 30th each year.
Anguilla Summer Festival — First Monday of August “August Monday”
Anguilla Summer Festival originated in 1940 as a boat race and has morphed into the multiple day, Caribbean “Carnival” and never-ending beach parties of today. Held on the beach in Sandy Ground Village, the bay (“Road Bay”) plays host to hundreds of people and boats from not just Anguilla, but from around the Caribbean. Events start at the end of July, but the main boat race and party fall on August Monday, the first Monday of August every year.
Private and party boats line up for the best viewing spot, creating a floating parking lot and residents and tourists alike celebrate with music, dancing and food, while crewed boats race around the island at breakneck speeds to win bragging rights, eligibility for other future races and the coveted title of champion.
Other activities leading up the main event include pageants, parades, fireworks, concerts, contests and partying galore. Carnival is a spectacular site, but if you are looking for quiet, uncrowded beaches, you may want to visit another time of year. August Monday is a government holiday so offices are closed, as well as many businesses (including grocery stores) may be closed. Learn more about Carnival/Summer Festival>