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Everything You Need to Know About the St John Carnival

carnival decorations

For a fun getaway, the annual St John Carnival is a favorite Virgin Islands event. The carnival offers endless amusement for everyone from locals and tourists to families and young partiers. Join us in Cruz Bay for a celebration of St John’s vibrant cultural heritage! 

carnival decorations

What is the St John Carnival?

The St John Carnival’s origins can be traced back to the Virgin Islands’ emancipation from Danish rule on July 3rd, 1848. The locals continue to celebrate freedom and equality to this day by dancing in the street and going all out with lavish feathered costumes, mouth-watering food, and musical performances. Some highlights from the festival are:

Carnival Village 

The St John carnival village is the epicenter of the event’s activities. Here, attendees can wander a sprawl of booths selling local food and artisanal crafts. In the village, a large stage hosts lively musicians, dance competitions, and the Miss St John beauty pageant. The village grounds include family-friendly amusement park rides, as well as stalls selling a variety of rum cocktails to keep the party going.


In a celebration of the Caribbean’s musical tradition, bands from around St John and the world battle each other to win Pan-O-Rama. This steel pan competition delights listeners with several types of steel pans played expertly to earn the top spot. 

Food Fair 

For those who prefer a culinary contest, the Food Fair provides local chefs the opportunity to compete for the title of “Best Dish.” Attendees can spend the entire day drinking and sampling a variety of local dishes such as pate, conch fritters, and roti. 


Meaning “break of day,” this dance party begins before dawn on July 4th. Revelers cover their bodies with paint, flour, and mud, which they also throw at each other while they celebrate as the sun rises. 

4th of July Parade and Fireworks 

The St John Carnival culminates on Independence Day with a day-long parade followed by a fireworks display in the evening. This is the main event of the festival, and participants make every effort to impress with dance troupes wearing ornate, multicolored costumes performing to steel pan and Soca music. Finally, the dazzling fireworks over Cruz Bay Harbor leave spectators breathless and eager for next year’s carnival. 

When is the St. John Carnival?

In 2024, the St John Carnival is June 30 to July 4. Though some events, like boat races, might occur earlier in June. Admission to most of the festival is free and open to the public. 

What would make the St John Carnival experience even better?

To make your vacation truly unforgettable, balance the energetic St John Carnival with a calm, private boat charter through Go Sail Virgin Islands. It is the best way to reach secluded beaches and relax on the open water. Contact our sailing specialists here.