Anguillians are a proud and resilient people, who have forged their own distinctive national identity. British influences remain – driving is on the left, and traditional British holidays like Whit Monday (June 5), the Queen’s birthday (June 13) and Boxing Day (December 26) are celebrated.
However, Anguillians are also proud of their African heritage and culture, with its strong emphasis on faith, family and festive celebrations. James Ronald Webster, the Father of the Nation, is honored with a public holiday (March 2), as is Anguilla Day, (May 30), which marks the start of the Anguilla Revolution, and Emancipation Day, (August 1) when slavery was abolished in the British Caribbean.
As a seafaring nation, with a thriving boat-building industry, it is no surprise that boat racing is the national pastime and passion, with events taking place throughout the year and especially on public holidays. The biggest Boat Racing competition is held on Anguilla Day, May 30, the island’s National Day, when up to 40 hand crafted, brilliantly painted boats take off from Sandy Ground.
Creativity thrives here, and it’s celebrated. World-class Anguillian musicians—Bankie Banx, Amalia Watty, British Dependency, Omari Banks, Natalee, True Intentions and Gershwin Lake and The Parables—have established a lively, ‘always-on,’ music scene.
Local art galleries feature a range of work from driftwood sculptures, to contemporary paintings and prints from local and pan-Caribbean artists.
Anguillian authors, poets and playwrights are supported through literary arts initiatives of the Department of Youth & Culture, and showcased at the annual Literary Festival in May. The performance poets of the Anguilla Under Ground and the winners of the Malliouhana Poetry Competition take center stage at this event.