From festivals of lights to Christmas walkabouts and rum, Bermuda packs a party punch throughout the whole of December, with the ocean and beach as backdrop
December in Bermuda is a month filled with the three ‘Fs’ – fun, frolics and festivities. It kicks off with the Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society’s annual pantomime, with scriptwriter Carol Birch’s Bermudian take on the classic Sleeping Beauty. After that, head east on 6 December to the quaint old town of St George, a Unesco World Heritage site, colloquially known as St George’s.
Here, revellers take part in the annual Bermuda National Trust Christmas Walkabout. There’s entertainment galore and refreshments that’ll warm up even the coolest Bermuda winter evening. Stop at Wahoo’s on Water Street for delectable seafood and to make friends with the locals, as you might get invited in for a little ‘excitement in a glass’, ie, a Dark and Stormy (Gosling’s Bermuda black rum and ginger beer).
St George’s is also home to the St Peter’s Church. Dating back to 1620, it was renamed during Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th anniversary celebrations as Their Majesties Chappell. The town also features a perfumery and historical gems such as the Unfinished Church.
On your way back west, pop into the Swizzle Inn, whose motto is ‘Swizzle inn and swagger out’. The locale features Rum Swizzle, aka rum punch with a Bermuda twist. Or check out local works in the art galleries – Masterworks, for the community art Charman Prize, Windjammer 2, the Bermuda Society of Arts, and the Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard.
In Hamilton, the annual Christmas Boat Parade, an amazing festival of lights, takes place in Hamilton Harbour on 7 December. And, of course, the Santa Claus Parade is a joy to behold, as the city is illuminated immediately after Thanksgiving.
As Christmas draws nigh, the talk is of traditional farine and cassava pies – the latter, made from the cassava root, is mixed into a semi sweet batter, paired with savoury meat and baked. Delightful! To sample some of the local fare, have Christmas dinner at one of the islands’ hotel restaurants, or at the Lido at Elbow Beach, as it’s right on the water’s edge, where on Christmas morning you can don your Santa hat and sip champagne, another Bermudian tradition.
And lastly, remember your kilt, as the Caledonian Society of Bermuda is hosting the Hogmanay New Year’s Eve Ball. Or just join the locals to watch the lowering of the onion (Bermuda was once a great onion-exporting nation) as people gather on the streets of St George’s or to watch the fireworks in Hamilton.
René Hill lives in Bermuda and is a journalist-turned-fashion designer, www.renehillos.com