The Annual Cup Match in Bermuda

The countdown is on to the most festive, fun, and entertaining two-day holiday you’ll ever experience - Cup Match in Bermuda! Here’s your invitation to the ultimate summer event: Cup Match Summer Splash 2012. But first, let us introduce you to this beloved and anticipated annual holiday.   


Cup Match is comprised of Emancipation Day and Somers’ Day. Special events extend celebrations into the weekend, as residents and visitors alike look forward to what’s become a four-day island-wide holiday break that’s unique to Bermuda. Cup Match also observes an important time in Bermuda’s history, reminding us all to reflect and rejoice. The whole island cherishes these two days as a time for sport, entertainment, fun in the sun, and more. Residents come together as they cheer on their favourite cricket teams – Somerset from the west and St. George’s in the east—and see which side will take home that gleaming silver cup… and bragging rights for the next year. This tradition and friendly rivalry has been going on since 1902, and unofficially for decades before that. Cup Match has grown to encompass so much more than cricket. It’s a time when families and friends, both old and new, come together. Whether you are out feasting and cheering at the match, camping and boating around the island, or swimming and sharing drinks on the beach, the focus is on community, both large and small, from near and far.

Fun fact: Because so many Bermudians “took off work” to attend Cup Match, in 1946 the government of Bermuda turned both days into a national public holiday!

                                      Cup Match 1 

Cup Match fever sweeps the island for weeks leading up to the big cricket battle, and Bermuda is splashed with colours, ribbons, and banners supporting both teams. Will you be rocking red and navy (team Somerset) or pale blue/dark blue (team St. George’s)? According to former Somerset Cricket player Dwayne Leverock, “Everyone gets really into it, really pumped up.” 

The venue alternates each year, and Somerset Cricket Club has this year’s honour. The game is broadcast live, so everyone can follow the game and feel the spirit no matter where you are on the island. Many love to go “out picnicking and camping, with radios tuned, listened to the game,” said Dwayne. This “camping out” aspect is big, as residents and visitors enjoy packing up drinks and food, then finding a spot on Bermuda’s beaches, designated public parks, and campsites.

Fun fact: Music and food are an integral part of any celebration. Cup Match and its surrounding events offer delicious eats and entertaining treats. You’ll find local dishes and internationally-inspired cuisine alike including mussels, curry chicken, hamburgers, oxtail, Bermuda-style potato salad, peas ‘n’rice, and macaroni and cheese. Beachfest organiser Gavin Smith’s pick: “the classic Bermuda fish sandwich.”

We recommend at least one trip to experience the match as a spectator at the cricket stadium! You feel the energy and excitement amongst the thousands who flock to the game, some dressed in outrageous garb, decked out in their team’s colours.  Visitors can head to our Cup Match Visitor’s Stall both days, which offers seating and complimentary refreshments.  Dwayne predicts that the game will be “a very interesting match” this year. “It will be very close,” he said. As someone who played for Somerset for 16 years, Dwayne notes that Cup Match is just as highly regarded amongst cricket players. “You want to give it your all, you’re playing to entertain [the fans],” said Dwayne.  
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The big cricket match is just one in a series of fun and exciting events planned for Cup Match Summer Splash 2012, and there is plenty for tourists to see and do!

Fun fact: Cup Match Summer Splash has two special cruises planned for visitors including the Sunset Swizzle Cruise on August 4. The next day, our Non-Mariners’ Cruise will give you an up-close view of the biggest water raft-up party in Bermuda, the hilarious and always amusing annual Non-Mariners Race in Mangrove Bay. This event has become a fun, local tradition, and you’ll see curious contraptions like picnic table-manned crafts from “sailors” featuring basically anything but real boat materials. Cruises are free and for visitors only. RSVP by 7/31 to reserve a spot.  

Another event you won’t want to miss is Beachfest, the biggest beach event of the year, held on August 2. It offers a little something for everyone, says Beachfest organiser Gavin Smith of this all-day, family event that’s free and open to the public. Lively sports and games will get your blood pumping, including football, volleyball, rugby, and even a skate park with a half-pipe, giant water slides for the kids, and a bunch of wacky games with prizes. Don’t miss out on the famed tug o’war that pits those from the east and those from the west!

Live performances from bands and DJs both local and from overseas will be providing music, as Gavin says Beachfest is known for its “mashup philosophy,” in which you can find anything from “rock to reggae to hip hop to folk” and even ballet and African dance have made an appearance. The diverse music scene leads people to joke and say, “if you don’t like something, wait five minutes,” says Gavin.

Fun fact: The jams start August 1 as Bermuda’s own reggae artist Collie Buddz is returning to perform on the island for the first time in two years, joined by New Kingston. The tunes continue after Cup Match with the Soca vs. Reggae Cup Match After Party August 3, showcasing local and renowned soca and reggae DJs in a music competition that will keep you movin’ and groovin’.   

 Cup Match3 

Horseshoe Bay Beach is where you’ll find Bermudians and tourists both “camping out” for Beachfest. The mixture of food, music, sports, and fun creates a synergistic environment full of positivity and respect where families gather and new friends meet. Camaraderie exists amongst the network of neighbouring campsites, and Gavin says that if one doesn’t bring their own food and popped into a neighbour’s tent, “you’ll probably leave there after a few hours, with your belly full!” You can also pop into our Visitors’ tent at Beachfest for seating and refreshments. Cup Match celebrates our island, and in doing so stays true to the Bermudian way: visitors seem to fit into the any scene perfectly, and are made to feel at-home amongst locals in the welcoming atmosphere.

For Gavin, Beachfest really provides a chance for anyone to come “let your hair down, take off the masks, [and] get to know each other.” The cherry on top? It’s on the greatest beach in the universe,” he said. Beachfest truly combines the best that Bermuda is known for, including beautiful scenery and friendly people. “It’s one of those things people are grateful for and really enjoy,” he said, noting that that the event includes people who “come with a good spirit and open heart.”

This attitude is alive and present during Cup Match every year, as we don’t forget the roots of the holiday. The first day is officially Emancipation Day, marking when slavery ended in the British Empire. Somers’ Day commemorates Admiral Sir George Somers and survivors of his wrecked ship creating the first permanent settlement in Bermuda in 1609.

  Cup Match 4 

Amidst the fanfare and revelry of events surrounding Cup Match, there’s a sense of respect amongst Bermudians, whatever side of the island they hail from and team they’re rooting for. With this comes rejoicing, and an appreciation for freedom. Cup Match manages to bring everyone together, even those who do not call Bermuda’s sandy shores home. Dwayne echoes this sentiment, saying, “These two days bring a sense of peace. People let their hair down, enjoy themselves.” Even on the cricket field this is remembered: speaking as a former cricket player, Dwayne adds, “You want to give them something to cheer for.”

Cup Match is a time to spend with community, enjoying time with family and friends. The holiday and events surrounding it is truly unique to Bermuda, and a wonderful time for visitors to experience our spirit of hospitality.

It’s the energy. Excitement. Revelry. Soul… You’ve got to experience Cup Match for yourself. Only in Bermuda.

Friends, What’s your favourite part of Cup Match? Where will you be keeping up with the game? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, too!


Posted on 27 July, 2012 | Permalink

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