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 today: “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,” said Mr DeSilva.

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, head-dresses, by which they can 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 honoured this year is the late Terry ‘Termite’ Simmons.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, October 5, 2017, ‘MASKulinity: Traditions of the Bermuda Gombey’ Art Showcase Mingle at the Bermuda Society of Arts from 5pm to 7pm – Cost – Complimentary, donations to Bermuda Society of Arts greatly appreciated. Join us 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 at 7pm. Cost – Complimentary, tickets are available on and at the Department of Community Cultural Affairs
  • Saturday, October 7, 2017, Bermuda International Gombey Festival Showcase at Bermuda Botanical Gardens, Main Show Ring from 5pm to 9pm. Cost – Complimentary. 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 Showdowner at Tobacco Bay from 4pm to 9pm. Cost – FREE. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from the Tobacco Bay concession, hosted by Tobacco Bay and sponsored in-part by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Gombey Festival Weekend Showdowner is your chance to mingle with local Gombeys and overseas guests in a laid-back acoustic environment with sun loungers, ambient bonfire, and a DJ
  • Also on Sunday, October 8, 2017, Trust Talk: The Bermuda Gombey – Origins and Evolution at ‘Verdmont’ at #6 Verdmont Lane, off Collector’s Hill, Smith’s Parish at 1:30pm. Cost: $20 members and $25 for non-members. 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, who 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 Phone 236-6483, or email for more information. Refreshments will be served