I am on my way to Shirley Heights when Taurus Riley’s She’s Royal starts playing. It took me a while to realize it was not the radio from my taxi, but that it was my driver’s cell phone ringing.
“Just a moment”, he said, before he answered the call.
That’s a shame because I was really getting into the song. But not as much as I was getting into the view. We were in the middle of a conversation on the World Cup qualifying games and this pause gives me a chance to look out.
We had turned off the air conditioner a few miles back and there is a breeze, and a mild dew, passing by the windows as we make our way through the hills and turns that will take us to Shirley Heights, Antigua.
A restored 18th century guard post, Shirley Heights sits above the English Harbourand Falmouth Harbour which makes for incredible views of the island.
It’s not my first time to Shirley Heights. But it’s my first time at this hour. I heard about the Sunday night party at this popular outlook and wanted to make sure I caught it, even at dusk. The party started at 4pm. It was 6:30pm and we are just making our way up the hill. Luckily it will go until 10pm.
While my driver continues his phone call I check out the views overlooking Nelson Dockyard and the Harbour. The views are unhurried and unobstructed, and they are not even the main course. It’s a peaceful drive up. Not as busy as I thought it would be seeing that it’s a party and all. Then again, I’m a couple hours late to this party.
On arriving at the entrance of Shirley Heights you know it’s a party. Cars and vans and taxis lined the lot and the distant sound of music and bar chatter can be heard from the gate, where I pay an entrance fee of $8US to get in. It’s a cover charge.
My driver is done with his call and proceeds to give me a little info on this popular Sunday event. The lineup as I am told is that there is first a steel band that will play until the sun sets and then a reggae band will take over until 10pm.
I walk in to what looks and feels like the height of the party. The steel band is playing animatedly against the backdrop of what many, including myself, consider one the best views in the Caribbean. It is dusk and the lights are starting to come on over the harbour.
The smell of food on the grille and scenes of flowing libation prompts me to join the line for some of my own. Beer and chicken in hand I sit down on a rock at the lookout and watch the steel band bring the crowd to their feet to dance and jump. The crowd is really into it and I have to admit, so am I.
The steel band goes on for another 45mins or so and is a big hit and with a seamless transition our attention is drawn to a second stage where a reggae band opens with Bob Marley’s One Love.
The crowd goes wild and the party heats up.
I stay here for a while. It is a very relaxing atmosphere. A party that almost feels wholesome with families, locals, tourists, and those of us who fall into multiple categories. It is not a sit and watch event. There is dancing and laughing and conversation. It does the Sunday evening justice.
– There is an indoor and an outdoor bar
– Grilled items and souvenirs for sale
– UYC Contributor Shane Traille