Bermudians take cricket seriously, and they’re not alone. Even though it’s not as well known in the U.S., cricket is the second-most popular sport in the world, with 120 million people playing all over the globe. Cup Match is a great opportunity to fall in love with cricket (if you haven't already).
It all began back in 1901, when two “Friendly Societies” began competing for a silver cup. The match became so important to Bermudians that it was made a public holiday in the 1940s.
The highly anticipated game is played over two days as teams from Somerset, the West End of the island, and St. George's, the East End, face off. Somerset supporters wear red and blue while St. George’s supporters sport dark blue and light blue. The Cup Match Venue alternates annually between Somerset Cricket Club in Sandy’s Parish and St. George’s Cricket Club, Wellington Slip Road, St. George’s.
The match is important, of course – but Cup Match is about more than just cricket. Emancipation Day, (Thursday August 1st) coincides with the first day of Cup Match, giving locals and visitors a chance to recognize one of the most significant moments in Bermuda’s history: the abolition of enslavement on the island in 1834.
Emancipation Day is followed by a second public holiday, Mary Prince Day, named after a once enslaved Bermudian who became a hero of the abolitionist movement in Britain.
Cup Match Parties & Events
It’s all about celebration during Cup Match Weekend, with a bit of quirkiness thrown in for good measure. Local Cuisine is an integral part of the festival atmosphere. Try fried fish, conch, mussel and beef pies. Families deck out their “camps” on the match grounds. Each carries a feeling of its own – an infectious, unforgettable festival spirit – if you’re lucky enough to be invited inside. At the game, fashions are coordinated around team colours – red and dark blue for Somerset, light blue and dark blue for St. George’s.
Below are some events from the typical post match lineup:
- Cup Match Fever – Just a stone’s throw from the pitch, Tiger Bay is the setting for Cup Match Fever, the official after party and concert featuring local DJs and international stars.
- Bacchanal Run – More a dance than a race, paint, powder and soca are the hallmarks of this high energy, street fete. Hit the road and follow the music truck before the ultimate after-party begins at Bernard’s Park. Get hosed off by a water truck at the end of this alternative J’ouvert experience.
- Non-Mariners’ Water Raft Up – Hundreds gather at Mangrove Bay for the biggest raft-up party of the year. Formerly the setting of a “non-race” with no start and no finish, barely seaworthy vessels, slapped together with every and any type of building material, bearing political and comical commentary, would compete to stay afloat. Over the years the event has grown to mean so much more – a floating fete to finish the Cup Match holiday, whether they non-race or not.
Crown & Anchor
Cricket isn’t the only game played during Cup Match. You can try your luck at Crown & Anchor, a simple dice game that was traditionally played by sailors in the Royal Navy. It’s a fun, easy way to make a little tax-free cash!