I’m back. Writing about something very familiar and very dear to me. Mangos. More than 5 years have gone by, and mangoes are still the love of my life. I’ve expanded the places I’ve been able to eat mangos: St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent, and, of course, my old home, Barbados.
Let’s take it a step back. Old home would indicate I no longer live in Barbados. This is true. I now live in Nevis and work in – you guessed it – tourism. More than one month into living in this new and beautiful space, I’ve been grasping how different the accent is to Barbados, Grenada, and St. Lucia. But something is consistent between the aforementioned paradises and that is… MANGOES.
Image my glee when I found out that Nevis has an annual festival dubbed the MANGO FESTIVAL and I would be working on developing this unique and amazing festival. Enter: complete and utter euphoria.
This annual festival takes place in the heat of summer: the first weekend in July. This year, the festival begins on Friday the 3rd of July with its climax on July 5th. Nevis’ Mango Festival happens the week directly after the electrically charged St. Kitts Music Festival. SCORE! A weekend of music and a weekend of food directly after?!
Let’s capture this experience:
The festival kicks off with a master class with international Iron Chef Judy Joo from the UK. Judy Joo has been a staple in the festival over the years. In the evening, things shift gears as the sun sets. Mango Fete commences and the action starts. Imagine, a mango eating competition, cultural nuances, prizes, food, steel pan playing, people dancing, and Round 1 of the cooking competition. A vibe, right? Exactly. Friday evening is the first official round of the competition with some of the top chefs in the region. Chefs incorporate mangos in their dishes. Points culminate until the final round which takes place on Sunday. After the competition is the fete. For those who do not know, a fete is a party, a celebration usually coupled with music, drinks, and freedom!
Saturday is as cool as a summer’s breeze. We start the day with a Mango Tasting, hosted by the very knowledgeable Agriculture Department. I can’t believe we got all the way here without me highlighting what makes this festival unique. Nevis has over 40 species of mangos on the island. Can you believe it?! 40?! I’m sure you can guess what my favorite part of the festival is.
Early afternoon, there is a guided food tour around the island. Local eateries prepare sample plates for ticket holders to taste all the unique ways they incorporate mangos in their cuisine. The evening is a night under the stars and on a boat! Music, food, drinks, and night sailing are all part of the nighttime experience.
Sunday is the pinnacle of this incredible weekend. Ocean views, live music, over 20 food vendors selling mango inspired samples, the verdict of which island has the best mango dish in the Caribbean, and surprises on top of surprises.
Unique experiences like Nevis’ Mango Festival are what makes me so happy I moved to the Caribbean 6 years ago. I get to experience the beach, warm and loving people, and some of the best food I’ve tasted in all my years.
Basically my calendar is marked, my countdown has begun for the funkiest, most engaging, and memorable festivals in the region. Dear mango, I love you, now and forevermore.
Would you like to join in the fun? Check out the Nevis Mango Fest website for more details and to secure your tickets!