December 17, 2019
SVG — The Best Place to be for Christmas

St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) must be among the top places in the world to be for Christmas.

Many Vincentians certainly think this, and from our visitor arrival numbers in December, it appears that many non-nationals feel the same way.

Visitor arrivals tend to be high in June, but four to five thousand more come to our shores during the Christmas season than during the Carnival season.

Christmas around the world is about family togetherness, peace and goodwill. Here, we have all that and so much more. We have much to attract returning nationals and visitors — the beautiful landscape and seascape; our rich culture, especially the catchy Christmas parang; the local Christmas fare; and of course the wonderful people who give a welcome that is hard to match elsewhere.

And with the Nine Mornings and the community light up festivals continuing to develop and decentralize the way they have, we are adding even more family friendly layers to our tourism product. The Nine Mornings festival officially began yesterday morning, with large crowds turning out in Kingstown and in the various communities.

The Nine Nights at the Botanic Gardens, introduced a few years ago, is a welcome and delightful addition to the festivities which seems to be getting better and better with each iteration. So too have the community activities which have been demonstrating more structure and entertaining content than in their early years.

The good thing about this festival, which is uniquely ours, is that all the activities are free, decentralized and family friendly, making them accessible and acceptable to most persons. Also, there are none of the excesses which tend to make the more conservative among us shy away from other cultural festivals.

A wide cross-section of the society generally takes part in the unique tradition: from pastors to politicians, children to cyclists, mummies to musicians, vendors to visitors. The atmosphere is like no other. The crowd builds steadily from a few dozen at 4:00 a.m to many more by 6:30 a.m., when it is at its largest.

What immediately strikes the casual observer of audiences at Nine Mornings activities is the youthful makeup of the crowd. A rough estimate puts the number of persons under 16 years of age on a given morning at about 60 per cent of those present. This augurs well for the tradition. The snugly dressed youngsters come out, accompanied by their parents and grandparents. With expressions of excitement and anticipation, they edge to get closer and closer to the stage, hoping for the opportunity to perform and win a prize. Part of the excitement too, must result from the fact that they are out of the house at a time when they would not normally be allowed to.

We encourage everyone who lives here and visitors already here to make the effort to take part in the festivities on at least one of the mornings. For those overseas, it is not too late to make arrangements to celebrate with us, our unique Vincentian tradition.