Artists including Konshens, Rock City (pictured above at the 2022 August Emancipation Festival), Monea and VIBE are scheduled to perform at the free “non-stop concert” on June 30. (File photo: DANA KAMPA)

The Virgin Islands community has been anticipating the commencement of direct flights between Miami and the territory all year, and leaders are planning a big bash to celebrate the first successful landing.

A free “non-stop concert” is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on June 30 at Brandywine Bay, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley announced on June 2 during a press conference. He announced in a Facebook broadcast on June 8 that the location would be moved to the Festival Grounds in Road Town.

The premier heralded the event as one of many planned this year to boost entertainment tourism in the VI.

“With the engagement of the events manager at the Tourist Board, we can expect more events throughout the year that will provide the opportunity for visitors to come from the United States, our neighbouring United States Virgin Islands, other islands in our region — along with our very own residents looking for the opportunity to enjoy our little piece of paradise,” Dr. Wheatley said.

The line-up features Jamaican dancehall artist Konshens; St. Thomas duo Rock City; and VI performers Monea and VIBE. VI Festivals and Fairs Committee Chairman Dirk Walters said that organisers expect visitors to attend from around the world, and that organisers did their best to offer a broad spectrum of genres.

“It is going to be the start of major projects and initiatives to come from the BVI Tourist Board,” he said. “It shows the government’s commitment to enhancing tourism for the country.”


Dr. Wheatley said the government provided the VIFFC a $250,000 grant for the one-day event.

Asked about the cost, he said, “You have to spend money to make money.”

“I want to make the Virgin Islands a true destination. … I want to have big artists, internationally, regionally and locally, that can have events that will attract persons from the United States, the USVI, and across the Caribbean,” he added.

Last year, the government subvention for the August Emancipation Festival was $500,000. The 2023 Festival budget will likely be similar or slightly increased to facilitate more activities, he said. Community members will have an opportunity to discuss proposed changes to the Festival in upcoming meetings, he said, adding that one topic for debate will be how it is financed.

The premier also announced a new initiative for VI artists. He said government is allocating $50,000 through the VIFFC for artists to develop their crafts.

Though the details are yet to be announced, he said the fund may support their efforts to participate in international music events, pursue recording opportunities, and take part in promotional activities.

Dr. Wheatley added that supporting artists in this way aligns with the territory’s goal of developing entertainment tourism.

August plans

Mr. Walters said at the press conference that planning for the August Emancipation Festival has been progressing well.

“Conversations have been going very well, and we’ve been engaging a lot of different performers and artists, seeing how we can enhance the whole festival product and get it out there as early as possible,” he said.

The committee published a schedule of events last month with many familiar activities, starting with a warm-up tramp on July 28.

Mr. Walters said a full lineup of entertainers will be announced soon.

Applications are now open for the Soca Monarch Competition and the August Monday Parade and are due by June 30. Details are available on the “Virgin Islands Festival” page on Facebook.