Administered by the Tourism Attraction Board of the Cayman Islands, the festival attracts over 35,000 spectators over its 11-day run.
“The Pirates Week Festival is the longest standing event on the Cayman Islands social calendar; filled with pirate fantasy, Caymanian history and fun for everyone,” explains Melanie McField, Pirates Week general manager.
The festival, which has previously been featured in ‘National Geographic’s’ ‘Best Fall Trips’ line-up and was also
awarded ‘USA Today’s’ ‘Best Caribbean Celebrations – Readers’ Choice Winner’, was originally established in 1977, inspired by the Gasparilla Festival in Tampa, Florida.
“It was the biggest marketing venture for the Cayman Islands at that point in its history, using pirate folklore as a way to bring visitors to the islands during the slower tourist season,” explains McField.
“It really was a hook back then, and still today, to entice travellers to come to the Cayman Islands and once here, enjoy the spoils that we have to offer – our beaches, diving, food and most of all, our people.”
For 2019, festivities kick off in Cayman Brac from 1-3 Nov., before the swashbuckling fun arrives in Grand Cayman for the main week of revelry from 7-11 Nov. The pirates make a final stand in Little Cayman from 15-17 Nov.
Pirates Week 2019
This year’s festival follows the theme ‘Shipwrecked’.
“Schools, corporate entities and the District Heritage Committees will be using this as the genesis for their float parade design and also for their District Heritage Ambassador Costume Competition entry,” says McField. “We are excited to see what the entrants will come up with again this year.
“From sporting events like the corporate golf tournament, underwater treasure hunt, the To Hell and Back 10K and the Pirates Week 5K (the latter two both benefit a local youth 345 Athletic Club) to the jovial Carboard Regatta which draws a crowd of more than 500 people annually, there is something for everyone.
“There is also a Pirates Pooch Parade for dog lovers to enjoy, benefitting the Humane Society; costume competitions, a children’s fun day, a teen dance, fireworks, parades, music and food and, of course, a taste of Caymanian history and culture.”
District Days deliver a healthy dose of this history and culture, highlighting unique aspects of the individual districts, with cultural displays, traditional food and fun activities for children and adults. Grand Cayman District Heritage days for this year’s festival will take place from 12-16 Nov.
“We want people to take note of the shift in District Heritage Days, this year beginning on Tuesday and ending on
Saturday,” says McField.
This year, with the help of the Shipwrecked theme, the Cayman catboat has been incorporated deeper into the festival. This incorporation will link Caymanian culture and heritage, in which the catboat plays an important role, to the fantasy festival.
“The Cayman Catboat Club is thrilled to play a more central role in this year’s Pirates Week,” says Cayman Catboat Club President, Jerris Miller.
“We can’t reveal too much about our involvement but by partnering with the Festival, we aim to bring awareness to the historic and cultural value of the catboat in our country’s history.”
As well as at District Heritage Days, festival attendees can look forward to seeing the catboats on 11 Nov. as restored and newly built catboats sail around Hog Sty Bay.
“We want to celebrate the men and women who work hard in restoring these boats to pristine condition and who spend their teaching children of Cayman history,” says McField.
For more information about Pirates Week, including a full event schedule, visit www.piratesweekfestival.com. Here you will also find information on volunteer and vendor sign-ups, as well as deadlines for sporting and competition events.
Also check out Pirates Week on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on the festival.