The good ship Valhalla, assisted by a tender boat due to slightly choppy sea conditions, carried a lively crew of scallywags and wenches ashore in central George Town Saturday afternoon for what could be the last ‘pirates landing’ held for the National Festival in Cayman.
The annual play-acting event went off without a hitch as mock canons fired, rebels ‘captured’ the stand-in governor, and a parade with floats representing Cayman’s cultural heritage marched down harbour drive.
Although the celebrations began Friday with the costume competition, Miss Festival Queen Competition, the National Song competition, and a spectacular fireworks show, the parade marks the traditional start of a week-long schedule of festivals and heritage days. It ends next Saturday with the ‘trial of the pirates.’
Shaking things up this year, the National Festival will no longer have one band parading through all the districts singing the same songs but has actually invited two different bands to entertain the country for the opening and the closing nights of the festival.
The Bajan Invasion Band, featuring soca industry names such as Nathalie, Mikey, Mr. Dale and John Roett, will be performing on this first weekend (as well as East End night) and the Fab 5 Band will be performing on the last weekend.
The Bajan Invasion Band consists of four different artists playing on the same stage. Each group member has widely-known hit songs in the Caribbean: John Roett, musical director for the group, Natalie ‘Natahlee’ Burke, Mikey and Mr. Dale.
On the final Saturday of the festival, Saturday, 21 November, a windup street dance will be hosted by international band Fab 5, in town by the harbour, ending at 12am.
Fab 5 is one if Jamaica’s most popular bands and have enjoyed an endless succession of hits in Jamaica and the ‘ethnic’ markets of North America. Their soca smash Shape is still very popular and the band’s versatility is proved by Dugu-Dugu their all-reggae release and the preceding all-ska album Ska Time.
On the weekends local bands and DJs will be a highlight of the show. Acts lined up to perform include Thanks & Praises, Regeneration band, Los Tropicanos, Bona Fide, Super C, DJ Alex and DJ Flex.
Throughout the week international and local bands will be the highlight of the district days with The Bajan Invasion Band, DJ Legend Force, and local bands in East End on Monday, 16 November.
West Fete is taking place in West Bay on Tuesday, 18 November with International artist Oscar B along with local bands Thanks & Praises, Local Motion 345, Super C, Rollaz International, and Don One.
On Wednesday, 19 November North Side will be celebrating with local bands Musical Crew, and special appearances by Johnathan Ebanks and Mel McCoy.
Bodden Town, on Thursday, 19 November, will be hosting a group of local artists and DJs.
George Town has scheduled a big night with world-renowned soca artist Shurwayne Winchester and local bands at the Royal Watler Terminal on Friday, 20 November.
Rounding off the Grand Cayman Heritage Days, Savannah/ Newlands will have the Gordon Solomon local band performing.