Emancipation Day in Bermuda

Emancipation Day is an important public holiday in Bermuda, commemorating the historic abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It is celebrated on the first day of August every year, marking the day the Slavery Abolition Act took effect in 1834.


Emancipation Day in Bermuda has deep roots in the island's history. Slavery was introduced to Bermuda in the early 1600s by the British colonizers, and slaves were brought to the island from various parts of Africa and the Caribbean. They were subjected to hard labor and inhumane living conditions, working in agriculture, construction, and household services.

The British Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act on August 28, 1833, which came into effect on August 1, 1834. This act effectively abolished slavery throughout the British Empire, including Bermuda. The island has celebrated Emancipation Day since then, paying tribute to the freedom of the enslaved and honoring the struggles that led to their emancipation.


National customs for Emancipation Day in Bermuda

Emancipation Day in Bermuda is a public holiday, and many businesses and schools are closed to observe the day. The celebrations usually include a variety of events and activities, such as parades, concerts, and cultural performances that showcase the rich history and heritage of the island.

One of the most significant events during Emancipation Day in Bermuda is the annual Cup Match cricket tournament. This two-day event is held between the island's two main cricket clubs, Somerset and St. George's, and it has become a symbol of unity and friendly rivalry among Bermudians. The Cup Match is a time for families and friends to gather, enjoy picnics, and engage in friendly banter while supporting their favorite teams.

Local customs for Emancipation Day in Bermuda

In addition to the national customs, there are several local customs and traditions associated with Emancipation Day in Bermuda. These include the Gombey dancers, a unique Bermudian folk art form that combines African, Native American, and British influences. The Gombey dancers perform during the Emancipation Day celebrations, wearing elaborate, colorful costumes and headdresses while dancing to the rhythm of drums and whistles.

Another local custom is the tradition of camping out on the beaches and parks during the Cup Match weekend. Bermudians often set up tents and spend the weekend with family and friends, enjoying barbecues and beach activities while celebrating their island's history and emancipation.


Emancipation Day in Bermuda is a significant event that commemorates the end of slavery and celebrates the island's rich history and heritage. The day is marked with various customs and traditions, both nationally and locally, that bring together Bermudians to honor their ancestors' struggles and cherish their freedom.