THE DECISION to move the annual Christmas Nine Mornings Festival to the Victoria Park was done in an effort to preserve the unique tradition during this time of COVID-19, and to ensure that the integrity of the health protocols is maintained.
It’s the first time since the festival was revived that it is not being held in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Kingstown, and that may partly explain the poor in-person attendance on the opening morning.
Patrons over the age of 18 years must be vaccinated to attend the activities, while those over 18 but under five years old must provide a rapid antigen test done at least 24 hours before if they are to gain entry into the venue which is best associated with carnival.
Chairman of the National Nine Mornings Committee Orande “Bomani” Charles said on Wednesday that this year there will be no village activities except for the lighting up competitions.
Speaking on SEARCHLIGHT’s “The Press Room” Facebook live programme, Charles said many countries are struggling with their festivals because of the pandemic and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is no different so they were forced to make adjustments and adapt.
He said the Nine Mornings Committee felt it was in danger of losing the essence of the festival if the activities were suspended indefinitely so they came up with the idea to find a venue to safely accommodate the festival, “….and the Victoria Park was the easiest way to go.”
He explained that in terms of production, they are making sure that most of the elements of the festival are produced, specifically the music and dance, but they know that persons are not going to get the same experience as if the festival was held at the regular venue at Heritage Square and the various communities nationwide.
Charles said that rural committees were asked to send some of their top acts to the program at Victoria Park and they have had good responses. There will be a rotation of hosts on different mornings and both hosts and participants are required to be vaccinated.
Rondy “Luta” Mc Intosh, another of the panellists on the programme commended the National Nine Mornings Committee for attempting to stage the annual festival despite the presence of covid since life must go on even during a pandemic.
“We cannot isolate ourselves in[to] oblivion and we are going to keep culture alive no matter what it taken,” Mc Intosh said.
This year the festival, named by the Travel Channel as one of four best Christmas festivals in the world, is being held under the theme: “A Festival of Lights-Hope in a Darkened World”.
The lighting competitions carry the theme: “Ah string ah Lights”.
According to tourism statistics this unique festival attracts around 12,000 persons to these shores annually, more than carnival which attracts around 7000.