Caribbean Culture, World-Class Arts
In the past 500 years, seven nations have governed the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving a rich tapestry of diverse culture, cuisine, architecture, customs and music. Residents of the USVI enjoy a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, as well as a variety of deeply rooted cultural traditions and celebrations.
The Reichhold Center for the Arts, a state-of-the-art amphitheater just west of the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, is just one highlight of the territory’s rich arts and culture scene. This unique regional performing arts center has hosted some of the world’s top performers, including Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, Alvin Ailey Dance Company and many more. Artists and audience members alike are enthralled by the theater’s natural setting and its performances, which take place under the stars, overlooking the crystal blue waters of John Brewer’s Bay.
The music of the U.S. Virgin Islands reflects an eclectic mix of its long-standing West Indian cultural ties, African heritage, European colonial history and more recent North American influences. The territory’s music scene is no less diverse, offering everything from traditional Fungi, soca and reggae to jazz, hip-hop and rock. Popular music events include the Jazz in the Park Block Party in St. Thomas, the annual Love City Live Music Festival in St. John and the Hot Summer Nights Free Concert Series in St. Croix
The USVI plays host to three annual carnival celebrations—one each on the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix—affording residents a chance to celebrate the territory’s rich, historic culture with dance, music and food. Locals spend months building floats, sewing costumes, training horses and selecting queens, princes and princesses, all in preparation for the highly anticipated occasion.
The St. Croix Carnival starts in December culminating with the Three Kings Day parade; St. Thomas's Carnival is a two-week celebration in late April ending with fireworks and parades for adults and children; St. John’s celebration is held during the 4th July week with festivities celebrating Independence Day and Virgin Islands Emancipation Day.
Visit the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for more information about recreation, arts and culture in the territory.