This year, Cayman’s Cultural Festival, presented by Digicel, is bigger and better than ever before, with activities for all the family. All the familiar elements are present but this year everything’s been ramped up considerably, with more community involvement, bigger competitions, crazier costumes and above all lots more family-friendly pirate-ittude.
The whole kaboodle kicks off with the now-legendary pre-parties on Thursday, 11 November. Breezes at the Bay has happy hour from 5.30pm to 9pm and then the Wharf, in conjunction with Vibe FM, kicks it up a notch. Watch out for the Seattle Seafair Pirates, too; they’ll be around all week.
The Pirates land
Central to the 10 day festival is the ongoing narrative of those pesky pirates. They’ll be landing from 2pm on Saturday, 13 November and the scenario is going to be the most exciting one yet. Not to give away too much but there will be zombies, beautiful sirens, sea monsters, explosions… and governors getting kidnapped, of course.
Red Bull are bringing down stunt biker Aaron Colton – his tricks and wheelies really are something to be seen, and following that the brilliant colour and invention of the float parade always draws a huge crowd. The theme this year of Pirates Week is the past, the present and the future – the float parade will show all three elements in a combination of pride in Cayman’s glorious past and a nod toward what else is to come in the future.
Fast forwarding to Saturday, 20 November and the pirates may well get their comeuppance at the Trial of the Pirates. Will they get expelled for another year? Only time will tell… grab some local eats, stand back and enjoy the fun, not forgetting the fireworks.
Blackbeard, and first mate DeeGee, will also be sailing into port – catch them at various events and do take the opportunity to quiz them about everything to do with those famous privateers.
Event excellence and crazy contests
Pirates Week is notable for its unique events and the range of activities on offer is quite brilliant.
The Pirate Costume Competition takes place at Goring Avenue stage, with categories for the youngsters and older pirates alike, all seeking to impress the crowd with their costumes, pirate jokes and mastery of pirate-speak. That’s at 6pm on Friday, 12 November, immediately preceding the Miss Festival Queen Costume Competition – a fashion show that is a glittering array of colour and excitement. At 8pm the national song competition takes place – see who the next Cayman Idol might be and enjoy the brilliant tunes produced by these talented musicians.
Sunday’s Underwater Treasure Hunt takes place at Divetech in West Bay, starting at 1pm. Contestants compete to grab tokens and win prizes – it’s for every level, from serious diver to casual snorkeler. Expect some crazy pirate costumes, too. The kids will be over the moon with the Children’s Fun Fair Day at Camana Bay’s Crescent on Sunday, 14 November.
The Steel Band competition will make the evening of Monday, 15 November memorable and on Wednesday, 17 November at 5pm look out for the annual turtle release at Seven Mile Public Beach. This year, 8 green sea turtles take their first steps into the wild.
Always popular is the Cardboard Boat Regatta, a hilarious contest that takes in all the ingenuity and creativity of its participants… and sinks them as they race around the course in Hog Sty Bay. It starts at 11am on Saturday, 20 November and this year features a brand new contest – Walking on Water. Splashingly good fun. At 6pm that day is the finale of the snapper cook-off. Caymanian chefs 16 and under have been competing all week across the districts to find the most delicious use of snapper so the winning dish is going to be very special. No doubt some of the participants will then head to the Teen Up disco at the Cayman Craft Market afterwards.
Another new addition is the great Lionfish hunt. Every day during Pirates Week, coinciding with the Heritage Day locations, divers and snorkelers will identify lionfish in a contest. The biggest fish wins $100 and at the end of the week, whoever catches the most (working with qualified staff) will win $1,000. There will be a mega-barbecue at the end of the day making it a tasty prospect, indeed.
Health and fitness and good old fashioned having a crack are a big part of Cayman’s family festival and there is a plethora of sporting events from which to choose. First up is the 5k run, kicking off Pirates Week at 5pm from Bayshore Mall. Aching limbs can be bathed – kind of – in Saturday’s 5k sea swim, now in its 30th year and a highlight of the festival. There’s random prizes for race finishers and a post-race brekkie at Tiki Beach Bar. The Mike Lockwood Memorial International Swim Meet takes place on Wednesday 17 to Sunday 21 November, with a range of events including 800 and 1500 metres at the Lions Aquatic Centre. The 10k Run starts bright and early on Sunday, 21 November and will certainly show who’s been out dancing the night before, if nothing else. A little less breathless, but no less skilful, is the Mickey Mouse Darts Tournament the same day, which starts at 1pm in the Corner Pocket.
Each district gets the opportunity to show off its history and culture during Pirates Week. From local food and drink to demonstrations of arts, crafts and music each area of Cayman will showcase itself to the world with pride and welcoming happiness.
They are as follows: Little Cayman, Saturday, 6 November; George Town, Monday 15 November; East End, Tuesday 16 November; West Bay, Wednesday 17 November; North Side, Thursday 18 November; Bodden Town, Friday 19 November; Cayman Brac Weekend, 26 and 27 November.
Presenting sponsor: Digicel. Gold sponsors: Caymanian Compass; Cayman Airways; Cayman Islands Department of Tourism; Cayman 27; Radio Cayman.
Check it out
Check the Caymanian Compass for further details. Full sponsor information and schedules are also online at www.piratesweekfestival.com
Now buy the T-shirt
The official Pirates Week T-shirt was designed by Luigi Moxam of One Tree Four Five productions. The lifestyle brand and clothing company of Cayman was inspired by the various aspects that make the Caymanian Caribbean heritage so unique and blessed, including the people and the way they talk. Many designs feature phrases and local sayings that have been shared for generations.
“The concept of the design was inspired to represent the controversy of whether Pirates Week was a thing of the past. I’ve incorporated several pieces of our famous indigenous Silver Thatch palm trees as a representation of our present and the tree ships represent the tree Cayman Islands – we have a bright future as we set our sails of cultural and creative influence within the region as more than just a banking and tourism destination,” says Luigi.
The shirts will be available to purchase at the Pirates Week Office, Breezes By The Bay, Winners Circle Sports , any One 345 booth or sales representative as well as onetreefourfive.com, email Luigi Moxam at [email protected]