Independence Day in Antigua
Independence Day in Antigua is an important and festive event celebrated on the island. On November 1st, Antiguans gather to celebrate their independence, creating a firm sense of community amongst themselves. If you’re staying with us during these festivities, you’ll bear witness to Antigua’s partying in style. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the island’s history, then here’s a little explanation:
First inhabited by the Siboney (meaning “stone people”), Antigua’s first settlements date back to at least 2400 BC. They were eventually succeeded by the Pastoral Arawak Indians, who introduced agriculture to the island. They were responsible for cultivating foods such as corn, mangos, sweet potatoes, tobacco – and the famous “black pineapple”. The Arawak’s were eventually replaced by the Caribs.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus spied Antigua on one of his voyages. Columbus decided to name the island “Antigua” after the “Virgin of the Old Cathedral”. However, the island largely remained the same for the next century or so, as the Caribs refused to colonise.
It wasn’t until 1632 that a group of English colonists arrived in Antigua and established the first European settlement, dramatically changing the island’s dynamic. Sugar plantations were erected, and thousands of slaves were imported to work there. African slaves were most commonly used in Antigua, as they had the misfortune of suitably adapting to the island’s climate. Besides labouring in the sugar plantations, slaves provided other services to their masters. They constructed furniture, which has now come to be recognised as “traditional” carpentry and sells for thousands.
Antigua remained in this state for some years, until the American War of Independence disrupted the sugar trade, and then changed completely when all slaves were emancipated in 1834.
In 1968, Antigua became an associated state of the commonwealth, forging a full government whilst the British were still in control of other aspects of the island’s living. Antigua gained full independence on November 1, 1981.
Since becoming an independent nation, Antigua has been celebrating its identity in style. Every Independence Day there is an official address given to the nation by Antigua’s Prime Minister. Afterwards, a Ceremonial Parade takes place at the Antigua Recreational Ground, where all manner of colourful costumes and festive regalia can be seen.
You’ll then be able to take a short walk over to Independence Drive to investigate the Annual Street and Food Fair. There will be all sorts of delicious delicacies available to try, from sweet cakes to fresh seafood.
Independence Day in Antigua is a monumental and important event on the island. Help them to celebrate in style!