Barbados Jazz Festival: Time to Lime and Great Music, Too

Barbados Jazz Festival: Time to Lime and Great Music, Too

Barbados Jazz Festival at Farley Hill

Barbados Jazz Festival at Farley Hill

The Barbados Jazz Festival – the 17th annual – concluded yesterday at Farley Hill after three amazing days of terrific jazz in a beautiful Barbados setting overlooking the wild and free east coast. The thing about the Jazz Festival is that you can have a great day even if your musical tastes don’t run to jazz.

That’s because it’s a lime as much as a music festival.  (Wondering what a “lime” is? Well, I’m glad you asked … A lime is a casual social gathering involving alcohol.) Couples, families, singles, and oldsters all go, spread blankets on the grassy hills in the shade of the big mahogany trees for a picnic lunch/dinner and break open a cooler full of everything from beer to champagne (to sodas for people like me).

Instead of six degrees of separation, here in Barbados we have three, so you’re likely to run into people you know. Even if you’re a visitor to Barbados, you’ll run into the waiter who served your dinner last night or the couple who sat near you at the pool that morning … that’s just the way it is here in Barbados and it’s one of the great pleasures of the jazz festival: schmoozing.

The festival setting is just gorgeous. Farley Hill is a national park that sits up high; it is lord of all it sees below — which is Barbados’ dramatic east coast and Scotland District. It’s easy to see why this is the site for weddings, picnics, and tourists who come to admire the view. In addition to the Jazz Festival, it’s also the site of Gospelfest.

A bit of a remaining wall of the Farley Hill mansion.

A bit of a remaining wall of the Farley Hill mansion.

Farley Hill once was the site of a 19th-century great house that was begun in 1818 and not finished for 50 years as room after room was added. It was considered the most impressive mansion in the country and was used as the Belfontaine Mansion in the film Island in the Sun in 1957. A fire in 1965 destroyed the property; that’s when the Barbados government took over the site.

Enjoying the 17th annual Barbados Jazz Festival at Farley Hill.

Enjoying the 17th annual Barbados Jazz Festival at Farley Hill.

One thing I’m continually adjusting to here in Barbados is the interval between things happening … at a carnivale contest we waited 90 minutes between acts.  Here it was more like 2 hours.  Not that it matters, I guess, because there’s plenty to do … mill around, talk with people, eat, admire the view, sleep, read (I saw one woman who’d wisely brought her Kindle).

The musicians we saw were terrific, the headliner of Saturday being Robin Thicke — more R&B than jazz, maybe, but by the time he came on around 8pm I didn’t notice anyone in this chilled-out crowd complaining. About anything.

If you’re in Barbados next January, don’t miss this limin’ good time on Farley Hill. Keep up with news on the Barbados Jazz Festival here.

Some of the sponsors' tents served up amazing food. I was a guest of First Caribbean Bank, which offered gourmet chow and a great vantage point from which to enjoy the music.

Some of the sponsors' tents served up amazing food. I was a guest of First Caribbean Bank, which offered gourmet chow and a great vantage point from which to enjoy the music.

From Farley Hill we admired Barbados' dramatic east coast.

From Farley Hill we admired Barbados' dramatic east coast.

The beauty of Barbados, as seen from Farley Hill. Here is the Scotland District, so called for obvious reasons.

The beauty of Barbados, as seen from Farley Hill. Here is the Scotland District, so called for obvious reasons. Except in Scotland you won't find that palm tree … or be wearing a spaghetti strap top as you take it all in.



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