Aaarrr me hearties tis Pirates Week

What’s Hot hopes your mainbraces are spliced, cutlasses polished and parrots in good voice for ‘tis Pirates Week 2011 and it’s gonna be the best ever.

The family friendly fun takes place From Thursday, 10 November, to Sunday, 20 November, and this year there’s a brand new presenting sponsor in Caymanian company SaxonMG, which has thrown its weight behind the national festival that delights so many thousands of tourists and visitors from around the world each year.

There’s no wonder that the festival is now in its 34th year given the amount of amazing events and celebrations of Cayman and culture on offer.

Thursday, 10 November
It all kicks off with a few events that are always well–received. The Miss Festival Queen Costume Competition on Goring Avenue begins at 6pm and is this year to be contested between all the districts.

It’s not a fashion show or beauty pageant but a celebration of Cayman, based round this year’s theme of Cayman’s Marine Life. Directly afterwards there’s the joyous and exuberant steel pan competition, which always draws huge crowds. Breezes by the Bay is hosting a pre–pirates week Happy Hour from 5.30pm and then at 9pm the Wharf has its traditional Pre–Pirates Week Kick–Off Party.

Friday, 11 November
Registration for the famous 5k run begins at 3.30pm with the popular athletic event kicking off at 4pm from the Bayshore Mall. Things start to get really into the swing of Piraticality with the hotly–anticipated Pirate Costume Competition, as ever on Goring Avenue. Here, the inner pirate is unleashed as kids, ladies and gents alike take their turn to not just show off their amazing costumes but to entertain the crowd with their own take on what it means to have ‘Pirate–ittude’.

The fireworks are always special and they take place at Harbour Drive from 7.30pm. There are many great vantage points – on the streets themselves is always a good bet or you could head to one of the many restaurants and bars. Indeed. Hard Rock Cafe will have just had its special Happy Hour from 5.30pm. At 8pm the Song Contest reaches its climax with great performances from the finalists.

This really has grown over the years with last year’s winner Mikey Spade coming back bigger and better to reclaim his title – so don’t miss this opportunity to see them all whilst you can! The creativity and skill of Caymanian musicians is really something to see. And for the rest of the evening check in with the street dance and food festival which showcases Caymanian fare, delicious food and of course oodles of pirates making their hearty way around in the traditional manner.

Saturday, 12 November
If ye be of an early persuasion, then ye gonna get up for the 8am 5k Sea Swim, which always attracts many people to the clear and splendid waters. Cayman’s history is based on our relationship with the sea and therefore there’s no doubt that there’s a real pull there.

These are the best waters in the world so why wouldn’t you want to be a part of it? Back on land, there’s the little matter of the Landing of the Pirates to take care of – pre–landing entertainment starts from 2pm onwards with a host of exciting people doing crazy things on–stage. The landing is always great fun, with hoardes of scurvy dogs ‘invading’ and capturing the governor. And then take your places because the float parade really does show off Cayman’s innovative spirit, as companies, districts, schools and musicians drive past slowly in their elaborately–designed vehicles.

This really is an amazing way to see the sights and experience the energy of Pirates Week, plus the Cayman Islands – remember to take enough water to tide you over! The evening has another street dance and food festival plus the ever–popular Teen Up Teen Disco for the youngsters at Cayman Craft Market. No adults allowed!

Sunday, 13 November
One of the most anticipated celebrations is the Children’s Fun Fair Day, held at Camana Bay from midday onwards. The young tykes will be kept busy by raffles, games and a special free running and jet ski demonstrations. Marvellous. Also check out the lion fish hunt competition – do your part to help rid Cayman of this aggressively invasive menace (and then eat em). Also under the water there’s the annual underwater treasure hunt, hilarity should ensue as divers get attired in pirate costume! Plus at 4pm the Turtle Release is happening at Safehaven.

During the week there is plenty to choose from at the various Heritage Days and the Mike Lockwood Memorial International Swim Meet starts from Wednesday onwards. This event truly does bring in some top talent and runs all the way through until Sunday, 20 November.

Saturday, 19 November
New this year is the downtown Circuit Race, set up specially for the budding athletes younger than 12 years of age. It begins at 8.30am and will certainly showcase the upcoming breed of Caymanian speedsters. Adults beware!

It’s all about Hog Sty Bay – and all about the fun and games – from 11am onwards. That’s the first WowBalls Walking on Water competition. Giggle whilst these crazy people try and get their thing going in those big silly spheres. The High School Paddle Board Race Relay (1pm) and the Most on a Paddle Board competition follow and then the main Paddle Board contest takes place at 2.30pm.

And then, there’s the cardboard boats… if there was one thing that really did speak of how much fun you can have at Cayman’s National Festival Pirates Week sponsored by SaxonMG it is this hilarious and innovative event, from 4pm. If you’ve not seen it before then this is a must–do – teams compete in a race around the harbour in boats they have built themselves. But these are no ordinary boats – they’re made solely of cardboard! The inventive designs have included cowboy themes, Father Christmas and everything you can think of in the past.

After all that fun there’s the snapper cook–off finale, where young chefs show their skills form 6.30pm then an amazing SaxonMG Grand Prize Give Away starting at 7pm.

All eligible Cayman Islands residents will have a chance to win. They can look for free License to Win codes for entry at events throughout Pirates Week Festival. The more codes entered, the better the chances are to win! One finalist a day throughout Pirates Week Festival, will be drawn and announced on television, radio and the SaxonMG website. Every day of Pirates Week, every entrant throughout the contest period will have a chance to be a finalist for the grand finale give–away. Each of the nine finalists (drawn 10–18 November) will have a one–in–nine chance to win a 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe at the 19 November grand finale event.

As for the Trial of the Pirates on Saturday, 19 November, at 7.30pm – this is where typically the pirates are put on trial. Come down to see justice being served as they’re taken to task for their antics the previous week – will they be expelled from Cayman for another year?

There’s only one way to find out and that is to come down to Harbour Drive to see what these salty privateers have to say for themselves. And whilst you’re there, take the opportunity to sample more delicious food as fireworks kick off the final evening’s street dance finale in the centre of town. Another Teen Up disco takes place at the Craft Market, too.

Sunday, 20 November
The gruelling 10k run starts Sunday, 20 November, in great style at 7am, with the continuation of the Mike Lockwood Swim Meet at 8am. Then, at 1pm, there’s Mickey Mouse Darts Tournament at the Mango Tree.

So plenty to get out, do and see – Pirates Week is an absolute treasure for all ages, all nationalities – and all of us!

Sponsors include SaxonMG, Caymanian Compass, Cayman Airways, Department of Tourism, Cayman27 and Radio Cayman. WH

For more information go to

True Pirate Facts

The Jolly Roger flag, with its black background and white skull and crossbones, was designed to be scary. This flag was not used by all pirates, usually it was only flown by those sailing in the Spanish Main.

Pirates believed that wearing pierced earrings would improve their eyesight.

Pirates believed that having women on board their ship was bad luck. They also believed that whistling on a ship would cause the weather to turn stormy (as in ‘to whistle up a storm’).

Almost all pirates stole their ships. Once they had taken over a ship they had to convert it for pirate life. This usually meant making more room for sailors to live on board and strengthening the decks to hold the weight of the heavy cannons.

Ships sailing on their own often sailed close to warships or joined other convoys of ships to protect themselves from pirates. Pirates could only attack one ship at a time, so if the sailors travelled in groups there was less chance of their boat being the one that was attacked.

Getting Around

The downtown activities, on the first weekend and the last, are within 5-10 minutes’ driving from most hotels in the Seven Mile Beach area, while the Heritage Days, out of town, are about a 30-minute drive. Taxi service to any evening function should be arranged in advance as they can be difficult to get at night. Some bus service is also available; ask at your hotel or condo reception, or call the Pirates Week Office.

Buried treasure

Pirates really did bury treasure. They usually took their treasure, sailed to a remote island, and buried it. One of the most famous legends about buried treasure is the treasure of William Kidd. It is said that he hid more than 100,000 pounds of buried treasure. To this day no one has ever found it.