Mainbraces are being spliced, cutlasses polished and Jolly Rogers hoisted as Cayman prepares for the annual invasion of the pirates.
Pirates Week 2011, presented by Saxon MG, is Cayman’s National Festival and as such has a host of family-friendly activities which look set to give the economy a boost as well as provide entertainment for all who live in Cayman plus the traditional influx of visitors from throughout the world.
The fun begins on Friday, 4 November, as Little Cayman shows the world what it can do with its own set of activities including a Heritage Day on Saturday with a float parade and fireworks display.
The main event on Grand Cayman runs from Thursday, 10 November, to Sunday, 20 November, and features many familiar events such as the pirate invasion – where the ‘governor’ is captured – the fireworks, the float parade and a song contest with the best of the local talent showing what they can do.
“Look what’s happened with ThE iZ, the guy who won the song contest last year,” said Pat Bazell-Taylor of Pirates Week, “He has done fantastically.”
There’s also the street dance and food festival, in which Harbour Drive and Shedden Road are buzzing with the atmosphere of fun and frolics, local food and the always-bizarre sight of hundreds of individuals in full pirates gear. It is an opportunity to see some potential stars, too.
“The atmosphere is great,” Ms Bazell-Taylor said. “For tourists it gives a real feel – it’s not just local food but international. There is a chance to mingle with locals and a good chance for local people to see one another too and catch up with each other. People can be so busy it’s not always easy to relax and pass the time with one another and this is a great opportunity to do that.
“The kids are all there – walk down Shedden Road and you’ll see them all eating their food, it’s great,” she said.
Pirates Week is also about healthy living, Ms Bazell-Taylor added; there are sea swims, road races and the Mike Lockwood Memorial Swim Meet, which regularly draws contestants from far and wide to compete with local and regional athletes.
Heritage is central
Each district takes its place at the centre of operations with the Heritage Days, which showcase art, artisans, musicians, food, storytelling and more.
Shomari Scott, acting Director of Tourism, said Heritage Days were a powerful way to get Cayman across to the wider world.
“We talk about it internationally, highlighting lots of different aspects of what is happening in Cayman. It is an opportunity to highlight our culture and heritage of all districts,” he said. Pirates Week is a popular event with tourists who are on island, he continued, noting that a high percentage had pegged the events as something that had enhanced their vacation experience.
“They said they were very likely to return for another one now they had experienced it; people love the Heritage Days and Pirates Week and tell us it is exciting, different and something really worth doing,” Mr. Scott said. “It is not something that you can see on any other Caribbean island so it is unique and people love it.”
The second weekend of Pirates Week features such events as walking on water, the cardboard boat race, trial of the pirates and a darts contest; while the Grand Cayman events conclude on Sunday, 20 November, Cayman Brac then steps in for its own weekend from 24-27 November, including parades, contests, dances, dominoes competitions and more.