10,000 patrons expected at second staging of Jamaica Rum Festival

Cups up! These beauties were all smiles at the launch of Jamaica Rum Festival on Wednesday. (Photos: Sheldon Llewellyn/BUZZ)

An estimated 10,000 patrons are expected to attend the second staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival (JRF) slated for February 29 and March 1 at Hope Gardens, St Andrew.

The two-day fiesta will celebrate the crème de la crème of Jamaican rum, music, art and food over two days, from 1 to 11 p.m.

“Even if you’re not a rum lover, you can come and learn about rum history.”

— Festival director Valon Thorpe

Presented by J Wray & Nephew Limited’s Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism through its Tourism Enhancement Fund, the festival will expand its hosting capacity by occupying both sides of palm drive.

Festival director Valon Thorpe promises a bigger staging of the event this year.

Inaugural staging

At the event launch at Devon House in St Andrew on Wednesday, festival director Valon Thorpe described the inaugural staging as fantastic and promised an even better staging this year.

“Last year we were expecting 3,000 people over the two days, and we did over 7,000, so this year we have our benchmark at 10,000,” Thorpe told BUZZ. “It’s literally a day of straight fun with rum and its linkage industries, good food purveyors, a stellar line-up of musical performances, craftsmen and artisans. Even if you’re not a rum lover, you can come and learn about rum history and how it has helped Jamaica over the years.”

D’Burnz set the stage on fire during the Jamaica Rum Festival launch.

History of rum

The festival is providing a second seminar house this year to meet the growing interests about the versatility of Jamaican rum, as well as its production process. The seminars will see the return of Appleton Estate’s master blender, Joy Spence. Forty people will be accommodated per sitting, and other rum purveyors will also offer educational seminars.

Other winning elements retained from the inaugural staging include the immersive, sensory odyssey of the JRF entry tunnel, as well as the aromatic heritage house which will chronicle the 270-year history of rum production in Jamaica, “from sugarcane to cocktail”.

See highlights from the Jamaica Rum Festival launch in the gallery below.

Entertainment offering

Esteemed music producer Mikie Bennett returns as the entertainment programme curator, and the package boasts top tier acts like Capleton, Ky-mani Marley, Coco Tea, Protoje, Baby Cham, Freddie McGregor, Ding Dong and the Ravers Clavers, Mortimer, Dance Xpressionz and Indie Allen.

Dance classes, as well as DJ and mixology competitions, will also diversify the entertainment offering, while CB Foods will cater to all your savoury, sweet and combined needs, which you can ‘wash down’ with samples and purchases from the 360 bar.

J Wray & Nephew Limited’s Marsha Lumley says patrons will get rum lessons at the Jamaica Rum Festival.


Marketing director at J Wray & Nephew Limited, Marsha Lumley, said their investment in the JRF is not solely based on promoting its range of blends globally, but also engaging consumers through information.

“At JRF, Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum will continue to combine entertainment and education to edutain our visitors and Jamaicans on how best to enjoy your rums,” she said. “Our master blender, Joy Spence, who is acclaimed as the first female master blender in the world, and she’s also the recipient of the National Medal for Science and Technology and Innovation…will be leading that seminar that will take place throughout the two days of the festival. Our senior blender David Morrison will also be leading seminars to continue to educate around our Jamaican rums.”

Other rum partners include Monymusk Plantations Rums, Hampden Estate, Sangster’s Rum Cream, Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, Charley’s JB Overproof Rum and new sponsor Worthy Park Estate.