We’ve racked our brains but can’t think of anywhere else in the world where the whole country shuts down officially for an annual sporting event.
Welcome to Cup Match, a two-day cricket match between two teams from opposite ends of Bermuda.
If you don’t know what cricket is, it doesn’t matter. Cup Match is basically a two-day island-wide party and there happens to be a cricket match going on somewhere. Well, that’s our take on it, anyway. To many Bermudians the cricket is a matter of life and death. The game itself and the two public holidays it is staged on are steeped in a rich history.
There are no qualifying rounds and the teams are always the same; arch rivals Somerset and St George’s. The setting alternates each year between their home venues. Each year around 15,000 people, some dressed in their best outfits, some wearing very little, watch the rivals battle it out.
The host ground has a special section reserved for visitors to Bermuda and complementary cricket guides are provided for the unacquainted. Elsewhere around the ground, many Bermudians will have staked out their positions in advance, some even constructing temporary shelters with lumber and plastic sheeting.
Many locals spend their time in the tents around the ground playing Crown and Anchor, a Bermudian game of chance and Cup Match tradition. Taking advantage of relaxed gambling laws during this holiday, their only knowledge of the cricket game will be gained from the roars of the crowd. Others will wander around the ground, chatting to friends and drinking rum swizzle, feeding their appetite with conch stew and mussel pies from Dolly Pitcher’s legendary seafood stall.
Cup Match is always held on the Thursday and Friday before the first Monday in August, giving most islanders a four-day holiday. Bermuda Cup Match 2018 will be held on August 2 and 3.
The venue in 2018 is the Somerset Cricket Club on Cricket Lane in Sandys Parish. Ticket prices have yet to be confirmed at the time of writing (December 2017) but are usually around $20 for adults and $5 for children (aged 5 to 12). There’s no need to buy tickets in advance. Simply turn up and pay at the entrance.
Other Events and Celebrations
Elsewhere in Bermuda, campsites spring up everywhere. There are camps in the parks, by the roadside, and in gardens. In fact anywhere a tent peg can be driven into the ground. Equipped with hampers of food, beer and barbeques, Bermudian families celebrate this holiday in true style. More money circulates in Bermuda over this period that at any other time of the year, including Christmas.
As well as the cricket match there are lots of other events all over the island. Events for 2018 have not been confirmed at the time of writing (December 2017). They usually include concerts and beach parties.
The Cup Match festivities draw to a close on August 5 with the wacky Non-Mariners Race at Mangrove Bay.
In short, Cup Match is a uniquely Bermudian event. There is simply nothing like it anywhere in the world.
Cup Match is a national holiday. On August 2 and 3 it should be noted that:
- Ferries and buses will operate but will run reduced services
- Government departments and offices will be closed
- Most gas stations will be open
- Most pharmacies will be closed although the Dockyard Pharmacy usually stays open
- Taxi fares will increase to public holiday rates
- Most restaurants and bars will be open
- Many supermarkets and grocery stores will close though some will be open
Venue: St George's Cricket Club
Somerset Cricket Club, Cricket Lane