August 1, 2023

10 Festivals and Events To Explore in the USVI

There are lots of fantastic reasons to visit the USVI, not the least of which is that Americans don’t need a passport to go to this exotic locale. However, if you truly want to live it up, it’s a good idea to head to the USVI when one of the islands’ festivals or events takes place. Whether you’re interested in dancing, fishing, fashion, or arts and crafts, the U.S. Virgin Islands has the perfect opportunity for you!

USVI Festivals and USVI Events Overview

If there’s one thing that locals enjoy in the USVI, it’s having a good reason to throw a party! They don’t skimp on wearing flashy outfits, either. That’s because when the USVI hosts a festival or event, they go all out. You can choose to watch them from the sidelines and get several wonderful photos, or you can let loose by joining in. 

Much like any other tourist area, there is an abundance of music festivals to get your body moving. You can also participate in several festivals and events that celebrate the heritage of the USVI. The islands hold at least one major event per month, so why not peruse the following list and pick your preferred event? It’ll give you a better idea of the timeframe you’d most enjoy visiting the USVI. 

10 Events in the USVI

Since we can’t possibly fit all of the islands’ events into a single article, we’ve selected the ones that will attract the widest possible audience. Pick your preferred USVI activities! Let’s kick things off in style with Virgin Islands Fashion Week.

1. Virgin Islands Fashion Week – St. Thomas 

This major event for fashionistas takes place each year for five days in October (dates vary from year to year). Some of the best aspiring designers from the Caribbean, West Africa, and the United States descend on St. Thomas to show the USVI their latest and greatest fashion offerings

One of the things that stands out about this particular event is that there are themed runway shows, including beach and casual day at the Caribbean Catwalk Runway. You can also attend Fashion Week’s stellar rap party. In fact, the majority of events during Fashion Week are open for anyone to join.

2. Annual Holiday Arts, Crafts & Music Festival – St. Thomas 

If you enjoy the arts, you should probably book your trip to the USVI for late November. Every year, St. Thomas hosts this festival, which features approximately 30 unique local artists. Additionally, there is live music and other forms of entertainment, including free activities for the little ones. 

Even if you don’t plan your trip specifically around this festival, it can still make for a great day out in St. Thomas! 

3. Christmas in St. Croix 

The USVI celebrates Christmas with a 12-day long event, which typically includes Christmas Day, Christmas Second Day, Old Year’s Day (New Year’s Eve), and New Year’s Day. The celebration wraps up on January 6 with a big, flamboyantly styled parade for the Feast of the Three Kings.  

For the 2023/2024 season, things will be a bit different, though. Instead of beginning in time to celebrate Christmas, this year’s event won’t begin until December 27. In other words, locals will have the opportunity to stay home with their families on Christmas Day before they open the Festival Village. Once it’s open, you can expect to see the culture and traditions of St. Croix brought to life! 

4. St. Croix International Regatta 

Anyone who enjoys sailing will definitely want to check out the Annual International Regatta! Typically held between February and April of each year, this three-day event features two days of racing plus a one-day clinic. 

Taking a look back at 2023’s Regatta, we can see that the USVI does this event a bit differently. The overall top prize was the successful skipper’s weight in rum! This prize will ensure that the party keeps going all year long. The Regatta also features live entertainment and some of the area’s best food trucks. 

5. St. Croix Festival 

Held concurrently with most of Christmas in St. Croix, this annual tradition can be traced all the way back to the 1800s. Known as J’Ouvert, you can check out this event’s spectacles from December 30, 2023, to January 6, 2024. You’ll have the opportunity to taste delectable local flavors and take in some reggae and Latin beats.   

6. America’s Paradise Music & Comedy Festival – St. Thomas 

This annual event combines the best of local music and comedy, which ensures they’ll be something for everyone to enjoy! Even better, you can plan your trip around it as it always takes place on Father’s Day Weekend. 

Events include a welcoming party that allows VIP guests to mingle with all the celebrities, a full-day musical celebration on Saturday, plus a day to honor every father in attendance. Planned for locals, America’s Paradise Music & Comedy Festival also provides the perfect event for tourists to attend. 

7. St. John Celebration 

St. John Celebration will be hosting its 70th annual event in 2024, so you know it’s going to be fantastic! Every year, St. John Celebration puts a spotlight on the area’s music, food, and resilient nature. 

Several different local musicians will treat attendees to their musical styles, and there are also a couple of bigger-name stars who will perform as well. In total, there will be a week’s worth of entertainment to keep everyone dancing! 

You can also sneak off for a while to take in Oppenheimer Beach. Named after its former owner, Oppenheimer Beach was gifted to the people of St. John by Robert Oppenheimer (yes, that Oppenheimer). The small home he built for his family still stands near the water. Take in some of the island’s history before heading back to St. John Celebration.  

8. Mardi Croix – St. Croix 

This annual parade honors the traditions of Mardi Gras but with a USVI twist! It takes place on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, and it was brought to the USVI by some transplanted Louisiana natives known as the Krewe de Croix. 

Things can get a bit wild at Mardi Croix—just like they can in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. There will be tons of different floats decorated in green-gold-purple colors. Tons of beads are given out to paradegoers, and you’re invited to wear your most outrageous outfits. But the absolute best part—and what makes it distinctly St. Croix—is that it all takes place at a beach. Therefore, you can alternate between swimming and partying at Mardi Croix! 

9. Virgin Islands Carnival – St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John 

Virgin Islands Carnival takes place each year at three different times. In St. Thomas, it’s in April/May, St. John celebrates in June/July, and St. Croix turns into a carnival in December/January. Every USVI Carnival has its own unique style, too, which makes all three events well worth visiting. 

St. Thomas has the distinction of hosting the Caribbean’s second-largest Carnival event. They spend an entire month putting on parades, calypso shows, steel pan shows, queen pageants, and more. 

St. John Carnival also lasts for a month, and it traditionally ends with the July 4 Carnival Parade. Although St. John is a smaller island with a lower population, it comes to life during Carnival. Be aware that the Cruz Bay Area is especially busy, so you may need to book a ferry in advance. 

St. Croix’s Carnival Festival takes place at the same time as Christmas at St. Croix and the St. Croix Festival. If you really want to get lost in an island-wide party, definitely go to St. Croix for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The island will be hopping for sure, and there will never be a dull moment! 

10. St. Croix Pride Month 

Finally, LGBTQIA+ people—and supporters—have an entire month to celebrate being themselves. St. Croix has been called “the most gay-friendly island in the Caribbean,” which makes it the ideal place to go for pride month (May 31-June 30). There will be a parade, shopping, and more, all with the LGBTQIA+ community in mind! 

Plan Your Trip to the USVI and Take in a Festival! 

The list above barely scratches the surface of all the festivals, events, etc., that happen every year in the USVI. Most of these events are held with locals in mind, but they also have a lot of tourists who join in on the fun. You can easily find at least one or two events you’d like to visit and plan your trip around them. 

Are you most attracted to St. Croix events, St. Thomas events, or St. John events? Really, it doesn’t matter as you can travel between the three islands with relative ease. Instead, pick your timeframe for a visit, and then enjoy at least one celebration. If you happen to go to the USVI on a holiday, you’ll have even more events to choose from! 

If you need to book a stay, consider checking out the accommodations at Vacation VI in St. John and St. Thomas. We offer visitors a perfect blend of relaxation and access to the island’s festivities. Off-island jumping is easy to do, and our team can assist with arranging transportation and guided tours. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in local culture or just unwind by the beach, Vacation VI ensures your trip to the USVI is unforgettable.

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