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ST THOMAS — The annual St. John Celebration has returned with a milestone year! 70 years of culture, carousing, community and class is no easy feat for this 20-square mile island. The St. John Celebration originated during Danish rule, where residents paraded through the streets to commemorate Emancipation Day on July 3, 1848, marking the abolition of slavery in the former Danish West Indies. This year’s theme embodies what the St. John Celebration is all about – “70 Years of Culture and Class Galore for St. John Celebration 2024!” Beauty pageants, food fair, Celebration Village, j’ouvert, and a dazzling parade are just a few of the main events taking place. “As we continue to grow our cultural events and welcome more visitors to join in on the festivities, we are excited to share this year’s exciting schedule for the 70th annual St. John Celebration and 126th commemoration of the Virgin Islands Emancipation,” explains Joseph Boschulte, USVI Department of Tourism Commissioner.

The St. John Celebration kicked off on Saturday, June 8th with Pan-O-Rama, an epic competition that pits the island’s best groups against each other with an electrifying setlist comprised of reggae, soca, and calypso hits on the beloved steel pan instrument. Next was the St. John Prince, Princess and Junior Miss pageant followed by St. John Celebration Queen Show on Saturday, June 22nd. The winners of these distinguished pageants are the prominent figures representing St. John throughout the entirety of the Celebration festivities. The official coronation takes place on Sunday, June 23rd at the Franklin A. Powell, Sr. Park and will be immediately followed by the Food Fair. Delicious local foods & drinks, arts and crafts and live music are on prominent display along with cultural performances from the Caribbean Ritual Dancers and towering mocko jumbies!

What better way to begin the celebration of Emancipation Day than with the highly anticipated foreday morning event known as J’ouvert. With a sunrise start around 6am on Wednesday, July 3rd, St. John Celebration revelers will take to the streets of Cruz Bay dancing behind the pulsating sounds of music trucks as they party with paint, powder, water and drinks.

Friday, June 28th marks the grand opening of the Celebration Children’s and Festival Villages, located just steps away from the Cruz Bay ferry dock. Seven nights of daily concerts from world-class entertainment, St. John Celebration Festival Villages are free and open to the public. Feature performances include international superstar Wyclef Jean and Caribbean sensations Kes the Band, Patrice Roberts, Pumpa, Asa Banton, Adam O and Cool Session Band, just to name a few. Enjoy local foods and drinks alongside family friendly carnival style rides and games.

St. John Celebration culminates with Parade Day in downtown Cruz Bay on Thursday, July 4th with colorful carnival costumes, majorette performers, mocko jumbie dancers and more. Finally, the night sky will be set ablaze with bursting fireworks, painting it with brilliant colors and sparks. For the complete carnival schedule, visit USVI Festivals Facebook page at

Written by Anquanette Gaspard