Fancy saying goodbye to the Great British winter? Considering jetting off for a Caribbean Christmas in 2023?
If all of this sounds appealing, a trip to spend Christmas on St Vincent and the Grenadines might just be the perfect way to end the year. Here’s why…
What is a traditional Christmas dinner in St Vincent?
If your favourite thing about Christmas is the opportunity to indulge in traditional festive food, you won’t feel too far out of your comfort zone in St Vincent. A typical Christmas dinner here is made up of poultry, beef, ham or mutton.
A selection of mouthwatering side dishes are on offer too. This includes steamed root vegetables, rice and peas, pies and salads. So rest assured that you definitely won’t go hungry!
December is one of the hottest months to visit, with highs of 31C and lows of 25C. Why not book your holiday to St Vincent today and discover all the joys of a Caribbean Christmas?
Visitors with a sweet tooth won’t want to miss out on sampling a generous slice of black cake. This traditional Caribbean dessert is similar to British plum pudding. It’s baked with dried fruits and fed with spirits or wine for many weeks, so it can be a little bit on the boozy side…
Festive tipples usually include:
- Mauby (a refreshing drink made with tree bark, similar to root beer – but with a pleasingly bitter aftertaste),
- Sorrel (a dark red spiced drink with floral notes),
- Fiery ginger beer
- Rum punch.
Everyone’s heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas, but what about the Nine Mornings of Christmas? In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Nine Mornings Festival plays a major role in the Christmas celebrations. So what is it all about?
Christmas traditions in St Vincent
All over the globe, Christmas is seen as a celebration of goodwill and peace. Whether it’s spending time with friends and family, hosting a festive party or exchanging gifts, Christmas is pretty much the same in the Caribbean. Albeit these traditions come with the addition of a few exotic twists.
Nine Mornings Festivals
On each of the nine mornings leading up to Christmas (16 to 24 December), watch the island come to life as locals and visitors alike set their alarm clocks early to join in with the festival.
Designed to celebrate peace, joy and love, getting involved in the Festival will enable you to experience every aspect of St Vincent’s traditional culture, including dance, culinary arts and music.
The origins of the festival are a little unclear. It dates back to the early 1900s when a Vincentian parishioner of the Dominican Order of the Church is said to have introduced the idea of celebrating the Catholic novena during the early morning hours in the nine days leading up to Christmas.
Following the service, churchgoers would gather in the street or on the beach to enjoy a sea bath. Afterwards, everyone would make their way home, stopping to browse the shop windows and share festive greetings with other local residents.
Over time, it became traditional for the ‘boom drum’ to join all of the people heading home from the beach and the town. And as the years passed by, more and more groups of people decided to join in. This included steel drum bands, street dancers and local vendors selling traditional festive snacks and beverages.
Choirs would make their way between the houses, spreading festive cheer with their Christmas carols. Younger members of the community saw the celebrations as the ideal opportunity to socialise.
Cyclists, on the other hand, decorated their bikes with sparkling lights that illuminated the streets.
The smell of fresh bread wafted through the air as local bakeries began opening in the early hours of the morning to meet customer demands.
Nine Mornings Committee
During the last 20 years, a more organised approach to this once spontaneous festival has been adopted by the Nine Mornings Committee.
A community light up schedule is now published, detailing when the Christmas Lights are due to be switched on. This is usually from around 7 December.
Prizes are on offer for the best festive displays, so they are often very impressive. A timetable of festival events is also available, enabling you to decide which performances you definitely don’t want to miss.
Experiencing the festival
If you fancy a taste of the Nine Mornings Festival, soak up the atmosphere by joining the flock of people heading to Heritage Square in Kingstown from around 3 am onwards on the first day of the festival.
Enjoy the uplifting, lively soundtrack provided by gospel singers, dance groups, steel bands, choirs and soloists. Join in with physical challenges including:
- streetball games
- table tennis
- volleyball and cycling races.
The festivities usually end at around 7 am, although there’s more to enjoy from 7:30 pm onwards.
One thing’s for sure, the local people of St Vincent are fiercely proud of their unique Christmas festival – it’s the most important visitor attraction on the island. In fact it’s even more popular than the Vincy Mas carnival. So you won’t want to miss out on finding out what it’s all about if you choose to spend Christmas here.
How do St Vincent’s hotels celebrate Christmas?
Whether you’re looking for pure laid-back luxury or accommodation that’s close enough to get involved in the Nine Mornings festivities, there’s plenty of hotels to choose from. Here are a few suggestions:
Petit St Vincent Resort, Petit St Vincent
If you really want to get away from it all, you can’t go far wrong with a trip to the private island of Petit St Vincent.
The secluded, private cottages here are free from televisions, phones and internet. This enables guests to truly enjoy total escapism in an island paradise.
There are plenty of opportunities to reconnect with yourself or your family, including yoga, sailing or a day spent at the simply sumptuous Hillside Spa.
Younger guests can keep busy with a selection of board games, ping pong or watersports.
A magnificent fireworks display lights up the night sky on New Year’s Eve (or Old Year’s Night as it’s known in the Caribbean).
You might even find a gift on your pillow the following day too!
Bequia Beach Hotel Luxury Resort & Spa, Bequia Island
This luxury hotel is close to local villages which take part in the annual Christmas lights competition. So you’ll be in prime position to attend one of the festive light switch on parties.
Guests at Bequia Beach can indulge in a totally relaxed Christmas Eve as there will be no need to worry about last-minute shopping, dinner preparation or gift wrapping. Just relax, unwind and spend time with your family – after all, that’s what Christmas is all about.
Bequia Beach is a wonderful spot for a festive break, we even gave it a top spot in our Best Places to Go on Holiday at Christmas!
As the biggest island in the Grenadines archipelago, the ‘Breadfruit Isle’ of Saint Vincent has so many things to see and do. And since it’s bordered by the waters of the Caribbean, scuba diving, snorkelling, kitesurfing and windsurfing are popular pastimes here.
Of course, adventurers can go island-hopping adventure to explore the many islands that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines. Prefer to stay on terra firma? No problem. Saint Vincent offers the ideal landscape to relax and unwind.
For many of us, Christmas really is already the most wonderful time of the year. Try adding tropical temperatures, exotic beaches and the chance to join in with some traditional Caribbean festivities. Sound good? St Vincent and the Grenadines it is then.
More Christmas in the Caribbean? These posts will help you out: