Shout out to @Thee_IzzyTaylor who reached out on Twitter with questions about the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival. She asked me when the festival takes place and what she and her girls can do as far as accommodations, so here’s a list of information that I put together that I hope will help you in planning your trip.
The dates for the festival usually don’t go up until some time in March but you can always count on it taking place in mid-November, and it’s always over a weekend (from Friday-Monday). Keep checking the official website for the dates. Once the dates are set it takes a couple more months for event details and tickets to go on sale.
I booked my flight and hotel separately. I flew on Jet Blue, which seemed to offer the best rates and I stayed at the Tamarind Hotel because Parlour Magazine worked out a 40% discount. In general, lodging in Barbados is more expensive than some of the other more popular Caribbean islands, so keep that in mind. Start saving for the trip now but get serious in June or July. I booked everything in mid August. The hotel I initially wanted was sold out by then so the Parlour deal was a life saver.
I originally wanted to stay at Beach View. It’s a community of privately owned condos available for travelers to rent. It’s one of the more inexpensive hotels I was able to find and it got stellar reviews on Trip Advisor (my travel Bible). However, the Tamarind–which was a slightly more expensive but worth it–was right down the road and it also got stellar reviews on Trip Advisor. Breakfast was automatically included at the Tamarind and they offered all-inclusive packages for those who were interested but since we were there for the food festival…you know where that’s going.
Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of special rates offered or even all-inclusive deals, a lot of the hotels require at least a 5 night stay. Last year we arrived on the Wednesday before the festival began in order to unwind before the party began but also to get the 40% off deal.
Again Barbados, especially the side that the festival is on (West Side), can be expensive. The currency exchange rate is about $1 to two Barbadian dollars. Sounds good but that goes fast. Most of our money went on non-festival food and taking cabs, but if I could do it again, I’d take more public transportation during the day time. The Tamarind (and Beach View too) are located right along a bus route that can take you to a lot of the popular places you might need or want to go (like nearby hotels where festival events take place, the Mt. Gay Rum Factory, etc). I suggest that you start setting aside money for the trip now.
Tickets for festival events go on sale in early summer and typically don’t seem to start selling out until about September but don’t wait around if you don’t have to. Events include the opening ceremony on the first night, the signature event, which is called “Ambrosia,” “Dinner at the Cliff,” cooking demos and wine seminars during the day, the Jolly Roger Barbecue cruise, and some street festivals. Tickets for these events range from $50-$250 so if you’re going to more than one event you already know that this can add up. Last year, I went to two cooking demos, a wine seminar, Ambrosia and Dinner at the Cliff. In hindsight, I should have just gone to Ambrosia, The Cliff and a wine seminar (because I learned something new) but it really depends on you.
If you have to just pick one, I recommend Ambrosia for everyone who attends. This is the event where all the chefs come together and you get to mingle with them (if they’re not too overwhelmed with serving) and sample their food, which is set up at various stations, there’s also plenty of rum and wine flowing. Everything else is up to your discretion but don’t feel like you’ll be missing out if you don’t do everything. That’s how I felt initially but I’m glad I know better now.
That’s all I have for now but if anything else comes to mind I’ll do another post.