Culture: Jamaican Emancipation and Independence Day Festivities
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It's that time of the year again where we pump up the volume in celebrating our emancipation from slavery and independence from British colonial rule. Emancipation Day is August 1st and Independence Day is August 6th. For some, the holiday is a time of relaxation at home with the family but for others it's a week of non-stop partying. Some of the most popular parties are hosted during what is known as Negril party weekend. Two of the most popular parties are ATI and Dream Weekend, which can cost from $15,000 to over $100,000 depending on the type of ticket purchased. There are also less expensive parties and street dances that are held all over the island, so with a little research, you are sure to find something to fit your party style and budget.
Besides the parties, there is the Gala parade in Kingston where hundreds of participants parade the streets dressed in costumes representing the various aspects of our cultural heritage. It is one of the most festive events on the island, full of colour, energy, music and dance. Vendors sell everything from cooked food to sweet treats and snacks and you can purchase toys and trinkets for your children to remember the occasion. Most of all, there is a great sense of unity and pride amongst the Jamaican people.
If you are not looking for entertainment but just want to relax, you can enjoy one of the many beautiful beaches on the island. Hellshire Beach in St. Catherine is known for its great fried fish and the beach is usually very busy with lots to see and do from dancing contests and horseback riding to people-watching. If you want a quieter beach experience, you can travel to the lush, green parish of Portland. There you can go to the Blue Lagoon or Frenchman's Cove, where the water is always guaranteed to be cool and refreshing. If you choose to go to the north coast, you
can climb the famous Dunn's River Falls or visit Reggae Beach and enjoy great music and food at the lobster shack. You can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cove or go on nature tours, bobsled rides or go zip-lining at Mystic Mountain. You can also plan a hike with friends and family to the Blue Mountain and enjoy the fresh breeze and panoramic views. If you are not the outdoor or adventurous type you can watch a movie at the cinema, dine at a restaurant, or watch a play.
Whether you are a resident or travelling to the island for the first time, there is always something to enjoy on the island, especially during these holidays. The most important thing is to think ahead and plan how you want to spend this holiday. That way you can budget it out and not let it pass you by and miss out on something that you might only get to experience during this time of year. Keep safe, enjoy and make sure whatever you chose to do you won't regret.
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