Gombey Festival Expanded To Entire Weekend

October 3, 2017

The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs is inviting the public to come out and enjoy the 2017 Bermuda International Gombey Festival, which has been expanded this year from a one-day event to an entire weekend.

The Minister of Social Development and Sports Zane DeSilva said, “I want to encourage the public to come out and enjoy this dazzling, energetic, cultural display. To have so many of the troupes gather together in celebration of our proud heritage is an opportunity not to be missed.

“I am particularly excited about the expansion of the festival this year to include several events over four days; rather than just one event on one day. The event was so popular last year that we have had to move the main event, on Saturday, to a larger venue to accommodate a greater number of spectators.”

Slideshow from last year’s Gombey Festival


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The Department said, “The Gombey Festival is held annually to provide continued exposure to the folk art traditions of this important cultural heritage. The Gombey is an iconic symbol of Bermuda, reflecting the island’s blend of African, indigenous peoples, Caribbean and British cultures, incorporating them over time into a unique performance art, full of colourful and intricate masquerade, dance and drumming.

“The traditions have been passed down orally from one generation to the next within families and the Captains of each troupe determine the direction of the troupe and style that is taught.

“Thus within troupes there can be found subtle but distinct differences in beats, dances, costumes, headdresses, by which they can each be recognised. Freedom dance, junkanoo, cockfights, biblical stories, slow dance, fast dance, snake dance, and rushing back are all elements to watch for when observing a Gombey performance.

The individual being honored this year is the late Terry “Termite” Simmons.

Please see the below line-up of events for the weekend:

Thursday, October 5, 2017:“MASKulinity: Traditions of the Bermuda Gombey” Art Showcase Mingle

  • Location: Bermuda Society of Arts
  • Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Cost: Complimentary, donations to Bermuda Society of Arts greatly appreciated.
  • Details: Join us at Bermuda Society of Arts to view a collection of Gombey-inspired arts.

Friday, October 6, 2017: “The Persistence of Tradition: Masking in West Africa, Haiti and Bermuda”

  • 12th Annual Dr. Kenneth E. Robinson/Cyril Outerbridge Packwood Memorial Lecture
  • Speaker: Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu, Associate Professor, Department of Art & Archaeology / Department of African American Studies, Princeton University
  • Location: Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute
  • Time: 7:00 PM
  • Cost: Complimentary tickets are available on bdatix.bm and at the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs

Saturday, October 7, 2017: Bermuda International Gombey Festival Showcase

  • Location: Bermuda Botanical Gardens, Main Show Ring
  • Time: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Cost: Complimentary
  • Details: Bring a blanket or chair and head to the hillside or bleachers to watch Bermuda’s Gombey troupes display their passion and artistry in the annual Gombey Festival showcase, with special international guests. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
  • Rain Date: Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017: Gombey Festival Weekend Sundowner

  • Location: Tobacco Bay
  • Time: 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Cost: Entry is free. Food and Beverage will be available for purchase from Tobacco Bay concession.
  • Details: Hosted by Tobacco Bay and sponsored in-part by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Gombey Festival Weekend Sundowner is your chance to mingle with local Gombeys and overseas guests in a laid-back acoustic environment with sun loungers, ambient bonfire, and DJ.

Sunday, October 8, 2017: Trust Talk – The Bermuda Gombey – Origins and Evolution

  • Location: ‘Verdmont’. 6 Verdmont Lane, off Collectors Hill, Smith’s Parish
  • Time: 1:30pm
  • Cost: $20 to members, $25 for non-members
  • Details: Join us at Verdmont for an in-depth discussion on the origins and evolution of the Bermuda Gombey, hosted by Gary Phillips, chairman of the Bermuda National Gallery. Gary will be interviewing active leaders of Bermuda Gombey Troupes, diving deep into how the Bermuda Gombey has evolved, the diverse use of semiotics across the troupes as well as what it means to be a Gombey now.
  • Book online at www.bnt.bm. Phone 236-6483, or email rshastri@bnt.bm for more information. Refreshments will be served

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Comments (4)

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  1. Southampton says:

    Can you tell me what relationship Gombeys have with Bermuda?

  2. Wahoo says:

    Thanks Zane.

    • Southampton says:

      Did not answer my question.
      Is there any Bermuda historical meaning to the Gombey?
      No i will not be attending. Not interested in watching them, thank you.