Feel that? That cooler breeze is a sign of what’s to come. Soon the leaves will be on the ground and that gorgeous glow you worked hard on this summer will start to fade. Fall is coming and winter is next. But us travelers know that it is always summer somewhere else in the world, and this is why every year the Parlour crew and our extended group of homegirls, colleagues and guests converge onto the island of Barbados for it’s annual Food, Wine, and Rum Festival aka our annual girlfriend reunion where we can relax, indulge and explore.
Because we really believe in the power of a good girl-trip, we want to invite you to plan (and win) your own Great Girlfriend Escape with us in Barbados. As this is the festival’s fifth year, we’ve amassed TONS of information, tips and tricks about the island and the festival itself to get you started on planning, but many of us have asked us ‘why?’ Why do we return every year? Why do we make this an annual trip? Why is it so special? Here is a breakdown:
VIP Access, Without the VIP Price
For the most part, food festivals can be a little overwhelming for the uninitiated. Schedules that read like play books, private events that cost a small fortune and a very clear hierarchy of ‘VIP’ versus the rest of us. You won’t really find this at Food, Wine, Rum. Aside from (literally) running into celebrity chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Anne Burrell on the beach, the opportunities to talk to culinary giants are endless. This year, Marcus is hosting a special night at Oistins Fish Market where you can sample the island’s best traditional foods right alongside him with no VIP ropes in sight. At the grand tasting event Ambrosia, local and international chefs are right there to offer your their best dishes and also take pics, give out advice and even two-step alongside you on the dance floor. The vibe is relaxed with an easy elegance that you’re only going to find in Barbados. This throwback picture just about sums it all up.
Want to see Barbados for everything it truly is? There is only one place to go—Oistins. Want to finish a grilled lobster dinner off with a few rum punches and then dance on a picnic table with your girls? Go to Oistins. Want to people watch, learn local slang and witness some of the fastest domino games ever? Go to Oistins. This fish market by day and weekend island hangout by night is where locals, tourists and chefs alike go to get a true taste of Barbados, learn local cooking tips, and hear the latest hits on the island. It’s perfect for a group as it has a little something for everyone, is safe and is a true way to really see Barbados and meet some new friends.
Something For Everyone
Everything isn’t for everybody. One friend may be totally into food and the other totally into the beach outside. And that’s ok, during the festival and beyond, there is something for every type of travel style. If you choose, you can wake up and head to the east-side and surf (or just watch) and then meet your crew for a fab dinner on the west coast. If shopping is more appealing than learning about wine, Limegrove is pretty much a luxe-lover’s dream. Nature seekers can explore the island’s many hills and trails and cliffs to see parts of the island that few experience. History buffs can visit the islands many landmarks, integral to the African Diaspora. No matter what, you never feel as if you are missing anything. As the island is only 432 square kilometers/166 miles, it’s big enough to disappear and small enough to get anywhere in less than a few hours, perfect for when you all want to meet up at a festival event in the evening.
Mt. Gay Rum + Chesterfield Browne
There, food, wine and RUM. Some brands have spokespersons, or celebrity brand ambassadors but no brand has Chesterfield Browne. Having joined the Mount Gay Distilleries family almost 20 years ago, when you experience a rum presentation with Chester you will come to realize why his demos always tend to sell out at the festival. Simply, he believes in interaction. Aside from breaking down the history of rum (and Barbados), Chester’s flair for involving his audiences will leave with a few memories and tricks to share back home. Like how to make a flaming punch bowl with no firemen involved. And when it comes to a group of pretty ladies, he always has something fun up his sleeve.
More than anything, the festival signals the beginning of a week we like to refer to as “the chill.” As it falls on the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us extend our stay past the festival weekend and spend the week on the island, celebrating the holiday Bajan style—on the beach, with a cocktail, while someone else cooks. Hence, the chill. And yes, you can find Turkey and football on the island if you want just a little of home. This is also the week leading up to the country’s Independence Day celebrations, so parties can still be found and island nightlife goes into full swing. For us, this is where we plan our group excursions like surf lessons, cooking classes and more so we can recap the fun of the festival, reconnect as friends and recover in style. As on the beach. With cocktails. And great selfie angles.
So are you ready for Barbados yet? If you and your crew are definitely down, head over to Barbados Food Wine Rum to purchase tickets and more. And we want to meet you! Last year we hosted a dinner for our closets friends and Parlour family at Cin Cin, and this year we want to extend a special invitation to you and your crew for a special cocktail party and reception. Details to come after you RSVP.
For more information on the island of Barbados, places to stay and more go to Visit Barbados.
See you in November ladies. The #GreatGirlFriendEscape is on!
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