Initiated in 1962, the Independence Celebrations were considered integral to national development as a way of giving Jamaicans a sense of who they are, and what their history and culture is all about. Jamaica 50 broadened the concept of the Independence celebrations to a programme of activities which would also serve to catalyse positive national response towards developmental goals. Customarily, the Independence Celebrations also recognise activities in our country’s history which must be taken into consideration.


This year the island will be engolfed in seven days of celebrations, contemplation and reflection as we commemorate the anniversaries of the nation’s emancipation from slavery and its political independence. In commemorating these major milestones in the nation’s history, recognition will be given to the various areas of our culture.

The Jamaican culture is divided into several sectors, and is characterized by its unique music, folklore, customs, language/dialect, cuisine, religion, various kinds of art and mannerism. It is this uniqueness that will form the platform for this year’s celebrations. The content and context of the activities this year will not only commemorate our historic movement into Emancipation and Independence, but will also spur a sense of belonging to the nation and its successes. The elements of national identity and national pride impacts all facets of our lives and against that background the Celebrations will be diverse, appealing and attractive to a wide cross section of our society.

Whilst the highpoints of the celebrations will culminate in the first week of August, the schedule feature activities that highlight and commemorate other significant occurrences throughout the year. These will include the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion, the opening of the Simon Bolivar Centre, the establishment of the Jamaica Museum of Natural History, Exhibitions at the National Gallery among other activities geared towards the reconstruction of Downtown. Rural Jamaica will not be left out as the community spirit for which it is known will once again be rekindled and reenergized as rural folk will be engaged in the planning and staging of activities to commemorate and celebrate Emancipation and Independence.


Much emphasis will be placed on rural community celebrations throughout all parishes. While parish committees and volunteers will be encouraged to present their celebrations in their own unique ways, they will be encouraged to operate within an established structure of events. These are:

Thanksgiving Service

The Parish Emancipation Vigil

Sounds of Drums – Drumming on Emancipation Day

Festival Bandwagon

Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony

Independence Day Stage Show

Street Dances


This year will see the return of Festival Fashion under the theme: “Wear it Gold and Stripe it Bold.”

This will not only present a more coordinated approach to the look and feel of Independence, but provides an opportunity for the fashion industry to generate income and showcase their skills.Merchants and fabric dealers will be engaged and encouraged to buy-in to the fashion theme by stocking the materials and supporting fashion shows leading up to and during the festive season.


At the national level, the focal point will be the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre which will be transformed into the ‘Independence Village.’ The Independence Village will showcase the best of Jamaica’s culture to the backdrop of patriotic and artistic expressions, exhibitions and expositions. The experience will characterize a big fair with daily and nightly activities in celebration of Emancipation and Independence. The Independence Village will feature daily and nightly events and activities ranging from stage shows and concerts to exhibitions and expositions.

It will include stalls and vendors’ booths offering traditional and contemporary foods, arts and crafts, the visual and culinary arts, information and promotional items. Private and public sector organisations/institutions will mount display booths. These will be augmented by other exciting attractions and activities such as daily kiddies play areas,food courts and lunch hour concerts featuring award winning performers from the Festival of the Arts and other notable performers and cultural groups.The entertainment will be family oriented, providing a wide variety of engaging and exciting activities. Additionally, this cultural expose will provide an enabling environment for public education of Jamaica’s rich culture and heritage and the promotion of brand Jamaica.


Other features of the celebrations include:

1.Window dressing competition

2.Best decorated Office/Business competition

3.Media competition for the media house which demonstrates the “Best Spirit of Independence”

4.Awards for the advertising agency that best utilized the Independence theme in their promotional campaigns

5.Competitions among the Parish Councils for the Best Decorated Town for Independence

6.Best Diaspora Celebration Competition

7.Social Media Competition