Want an epic party? Head to Bermuda this weekend. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
If you’ve never lived in Bermuda, you could be forgiven for not knowing that this weekend is the biggest party weekend of the entire year on the tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean. We are talking about a four-day extravaganza of beach bashes, camping, eating, drinking, gambling, and cricket. Yes, cricket. This holiday centers on the Cup Match, a two-day cricket match between the island’s rivals, Somerset and St. George, a fierce competition more than 100 years in the making that celebrates both the island’s emancipation and its founding.
On Friday, Somerset Cricket Club will pack in 15,000 people (a lot of people for Bermuda). (Photo: Jo Piazza)
“We’re the only country in the world that has a public holiday to play a sport,” David Burgess, a local cab driver, bragged to me as he showed me around the island’s festivities. David proudly sported his pale and dark blue St. George ribbons. His wife was decked out in Somerset red.
“The rivalry can put a strain on a marriage,” he laughed. “Right now Somerset holds the Cup.”
If you aren’t wearing team colors during Cup Match weekend, you are not a Bermudan.
Come one, come all to get your Cup Match swag. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
The holiday weekend here begins after work ends on Wednesday when the locals pack up all their belongings and head to campsites sprinkled on the island’s plentiful beaches to camp out and barbecue for the next four or five days.
The prime campsites have pristine ocean views. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
The cricket match begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning and finishes at 7:30 p.m. There are two innings, the second of which continues into Friday.
Here’s the other thing that makes Cup Match exciting. It’s the only time gambling is allowed on the island. Within the Somerset Cricket Club an area is all set up for the gambling. Spectators crowd the table to play a six-sided dice game called Crown and Anchor. The rules are simple. You throw money on the table. If you bet on crown and crown comes up, then you win. If there is no crown, then your money is whisked away. The trick of it all is that the table also gives away free beer, so folks have been known to toss their car keys down by the end of the day.
Not interested in the cricket or the gambling? There is also the all-day party on Horseshoe Bay Beach. Beachfest lasts all day and through the night on Thursday. There are football games, limbo tournaments, volleyball matches, and nonstop dancing.
By 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, Horseshoe Bay Beach was already littered with party tents. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
“If the DJ is good it can go until midnight,” Burgess told me.
The party doesn’t end when the winning team is handed the cup on Friday. On Sunday there is the Non-Mariner’s Race — a drunken spectacle in which the object of the race is to lose in the most spectacular way possible. Locals take anything that isn’t a boat (a hollowed-out car, a scooter, a bath tub) and try to float it in Mangrove Bay. All of the real boats are tied together in one continuous floating party platform, and you can literally walk from boat 1 to boat 100.
“It might just be the best weekend of the year,” Burgess told me. “We’re lucky to live here.”