Barbados Food and Rum Festival moving to October

Appropriately launched on International Rum Day, this year’s Barbados Food and Rum Festival, which runs from October 18 to 21, will see some changes as BTMI looks to further refine and develop the nine-year-old series for the long haul. BTMI CEO, William ‘Billy’ Griffith, said that the changes come as the organisation continues to “deliver a product that both satisfies the appetite of our audience, while perfecting those unique selling points for which destination Barbados is known and loved.”

Food and Rum Festival moving to October

The first of two major changes the CEO announced was the shift from the usual November dates, to October. Griffith said the decision was made based on feedback from local stakeholders, who requested that BTMI assist in driving business to the island during this slightly softer period.

“But we didn’t just change the date, we met with restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists and even event promoters with the idea of expanding the Barbados Food and Rum Festival from just four days to a month-long experience,” he said.

The month of festivities will include food truck crawls, restaurant specials, and bar pop-ups spread across October.

International chef ambassador

The second change announced was the move away from the model that saw multiple international chefs flown in for the Festival, to one that maximizes the exposure of the plethora of local culinary talent. “We have seen our local talent grow exponentially over the past nine years of the Festival. We now have a pool of award-winning chefs and mixologists that cannot be contained to our previous model… That’s why, beginning this year, we will be further elevating and capitalising on the wealth of talent we have in our island,” Griffith added.

Instead, BTMI has engaged Michelin-star chef Tom Aikens from the U.K., to be an ambassador for this year’s Festival. Tom was one of the three international chefs featured during the 2017 Festival at the Tides restaurant. A celebrity chef and the owner of four successful restaurants across the U.K., he has authored several cookbooks, and has a large social media following. In his role as ambassador, he will be using his status to officially endorse the Festival; encouraging his customers, readers, fans, and more, to journey with him to Barbados to experience the unique festival of flavour.

Among the featured chefs for 2018 are Barbados’ own Damian Leach, Taste of the Caribbean Chef of the Year 2018; Craig Greenidge, owner and executive chef of CM Catering; Michael Harrison, executive chef of Camelot restaurant at Cobbler’s Cove; and pastry guru Javon Cummins of Tapestry restaurant, to name a few.

Lead up to the Festival

Even before this year’s Festival kicks off, BTMI will host a series of Food and Rum pop-ups across various restaurants such as The Mill & Co., East Point Grill, Fisherman’s Pub, Braddie’s Bar and Golden Sands Hotel. These pop-ups will be held during September and will give Barbadians a chance to win prizes such as coveted tickets to Festival, as they prepare for the upcoming festivities.

The Events


The Festival unofficially kicks off with the Barbados Tourism Media Awards on October 17, a global initiative of BTMI to celebrate the best of tourism focused news coverage of the island. The 12 winners will be flown in to Barbados to accept their awards and experience the Food & Rum Festival in its entirety.


On Thursday October 18, the Festival begins as usual with the free open air fish fry – Night Out in Oistins. Savor the taste of the South as the Festival curtain opens at the historic Oistins fishing village. Be there to witness local chefs preparing fresh, grilled treats under the stars, and relish one of the island’s most talked about experiences of cultural and culinary fusion.


On Friday night, the Festival heads north as the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre is transformed into a true spectacle for the Taste of the Exotic Signature Rum Event. Food and fun will be infused in this night of cocktails, canapés and sizzling Bajan entertainment. This was the most popular event last year with a completely sold out crowd, with visitors flying from the Caribbean, Los Angeles, New York and cities around the UK, to be a part of the fun.


Those who look forward to the sit down dining experiences will be thrilled to hear that the Gourmet Safari dinner series has been expanded. Previously incorporating just three restaurants, it has now been opened up to several local standalone and hotel restaurants across the island. Guests can look out for Barbados Food and Rum menus at their favourite restaurants, boasting dishes especially created just for that night.


This year, the festival will climax again on the Sunday, but this time at the Holder’s Polo Field with the beloved

Taste the Spirits of Polo event. Polo on Sundays is a tradition for many in Barbados, and BTMI will marry that excitement with refreshing speciality cocktails and food stations.
More information is available at the website


About Barbados:
The island of Barbados offers the most authentic Caribbean experiences with its exceptionally rich culture and history. It was awarded the Caribbean Best Destination 2016 by Expedia and was rated the ‘Best Caribbean Beach’ by USA Today in 2015. Barbados also ranked second place on Conde Nast Traveler’s 2016 list of ‘The Most Beautiful Islands in the Caribbean’ and ranked third in the 2015 Trip Advisor “Travelers’ Choice Awards for Islands 2015” in its Top 100 Destinations category. It is one of US News & World Report’s Top 7 Caribbean Islands for Foodies. In addition, Barbados is the first Zagat-rated Caribbean island and known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Accommodations range from picturesque plantation houses and villas to quaint bed and breakfasts and award-winning, five-star resorts. Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) offers non-stop and direct service options from a growing number of gateways in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, making Barbados the true gateway in the Eastern Caribbean. For more information on travel to Barbados, visit, follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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