How to party like a pirate during Cayman's National Festival

When you move to a tiny Caribbean Island, spend your weekends on white sandy beaches, splashing around in crystal clear turquoise waters, it's easy to understand why many people think you no longer live in the "real world."

Weekends in paradise...

Weekends in paradise...

Add to all that, the fact that your country's National Festival is Pirates Week and the argument of "no seriously, this is a real place" starts getting seriously thin.

But that's one of the things I love about this little island. It is a real place. It just knows how to have a good time. Every November the Cayman Islands come alive for two weeks of music, street dances, local food, drinks, fireworks, parades, sporting events and heritage days to celebrate the age of piracy before the land was fully settled - complete with a pirates landing! According to Neville Williams' account of the history of the islands, the abundance of fee water, turtle meat and wood made Cayman attractive to Pirate captains and locals are keen not to forget their part in our history.

The celebrations officially start on a Thursday, but for most of us with a day job (in the "real world") the party kicks-off on the first Friday of the week long festival. It's one of my favourite nights of the year - heading into George Town surrounded by other revellers, everyone dressed up in their finest pirate attire, the streets are buzzing with music, bars and food stalls. 

Eating street food from a takeout container for dinner is a must -  the hardest part is picking which stall you want to eat from. I go for the ones with the friendliest faces.

But I recommend you try a couple. First up you have to get some jerk chicken or pork.

Smother it in hot sauce, eat it with your fingers and wash it down with a cold beer.

Other favorites include curry goat served with sides of rice and beans and plantains, but one of the best dishes we sampled was shrimp stew - with a delicious sauce, perfect for dunking fresh festival bread.

When you've had your fill of fresh food, head back to the waterfront and get a good spot for the fireworks. Many who have witnessed the incredible Pirates Week shows will argue that the Cayman Islands put on some of the best firework displays in the world. I have to say I agree with them. 

After the fireworks the party continues into the next day…and week. 

The highlight for a lot of people is the Pirates Landing and parade on the first Saturday of Pirates week. The governor gets kidnapped, pirates invade the port in George Town and huge floats transport dancers and musicians through Grand Caymans capital, while thousands of spectators line the streets to watch.

The festivities continue throughout November in each of Grand Caymans districts and the sister islands. And if all that isn't enough, dressing up and hosting your own Pirates week party is also encouraged.

However you chose to celebrate, this festival is a must. You haven't truly experienced Cayman until you've experienced Pirates Week.


Pirates Week festival in Grand Cayman. A guide from