Summer starts on May 24th with a celebration of culture and heritage
May 24th: The Start of Summer
Bermuda Day (May 24th) is the unofficial start of summer on the island. The Bermuda Day holiday is traditionally the first day of the year that Bermudians swim in the sea or take their boats out on the water. By the end of May the weather is usually very fine, with air temperatures of between 72 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and water temperatures also in the low to mid 70s, so taking that first dip in the ocean is a real delight! Additionally, May 24th is the date on which most local men transition from wearing trousers to Bermuda shorts.
Bermuda Day has had several previous incarnations. May 24th first became a public holiday as a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday (‘Victoria Day’). It then became ‘Empire Day’, and subsequently ‘Commonwealth Day’, retaining that name until a period of civil unrest in the 1970s. Lord Pitt, sent to Bermuda in the wake of violent riots to assess the situation, suggested adapting the May 24th holiday to promote interracial harmony and celebrate shared heritage.
May 24th Race
Bermuda Day, the culmination of Heritage Month, certainly features some of the island’s best-loved cultural events. Crowds gather along Front Street to watch runners, cyclists and rollerbladers compete in the annual May 24th race. Notably, only Bermudians and residents who have lived on the island for more than six months are eligible to enter. You can see footage of the May 24th race and many other highlights of the Bermuda Day holiday in the following video:
Experience all the fun, excitement and traditions of the Bermuda Day Weekend Holiday in Bermuda.
Bermuda Fitted Dinghies
The race by road is complemented by a race on the water: May 24th is also the date of the first race of the season for Bermuda fitted dinghies. These uniquely Bermudian boats have more sail and carry more bodies during a race than any other racing vessels of their size. At the beginning of a race five or six crew members are crammed into the 14 foot hull, but the Bermuda fitted dinghy boat class allows for the jettisoning of crew members during the course of the race. The shallow hull of the dinghies take on a lot of water, and at least one crew member will spend the majority of the race bailing.
Bermuda Day Parade
Another local event which makes Bermuda Day special is the parade which takes place in the afternoon on Front Street. Performers of all kinds process from the east end of Front Street to Bernard’s Park: majorettes, Bermuda gombeys and marching bands fill the streets with music and colour.
Bermuda Day Picnics
Picnicking is a popular May 24th activity. A typical Bermuda Day picnic basket might include fried chicken, cassava pie, potato salad, coleslaw, and fish sandwiches.