Shooting Stars – The Gala Season Is Upon Us

Champagne flutes filled with bubbly and a strawberry on a tray.

Now that summer is officially over, a season of another nature begins: gala season. The ballrooms of the Westin, Marriott, Kimpton Seafire and The Ritz-Carlton prepare to be transformed by décor, lights, entertainment and a riot of color, as residents of the Cayman Islands go through their wardrobes to choose their outfits for upcoming events.

The Breast Cancer Gala Dinner, always held in the ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton, was often considered to be the unofficial start of gala season. Held on the first Saturday of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), it sells out months in advance. Its combination of celebrity guest speakers and exciting live auction items, not to mention raising funds for a cause very close to many people’s hearts, make it a coveted ticket to buy.

In recent years, a few other organizations have held their events at the end of September, possibly to get the jump on ticket sales or to make it easier to book function space.

The Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants (CIIPA) awards, recognizing excellence in the field of accountancy, took place Sept. 22 at the Kimpton Seafire. It’s an event that celebrates young people entering the profession – one of Cayman’s most rewarding career choices.

Last year, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute held its Festival of Seas at Kaibo on Sept. 30, but this time around it will be celebrating at the Grand Old House on Nov. 3.

Another popular gala is Hedge Funds Care, which moves back to The Ritz-Carlton on Nov. 16 after two years at the Kimpton Seafire. Each year the committee chooses a different theme for the event. From the magic of Paris in 2015 to the silk and cherry blossoms of Japan in 2017 and now a vintage circus in 2018, guests can expect to be transported for the evening to a different time and place as they socialize over cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a three-course dinner.

The National Gallery has no doubt got some surprises up its couture sleeve with its Art of Fashion-themed fundraiser being held on Nov. 30 at the Gallery. Having access to some of the most creative talents on the island always makes for an unforgettable gala where guests are encouraged to dress in costume for the night.

The Gallery will have had an exhibition of the same name running for nearly three months by the end of November, shining the spotlight on two of Cayman’s premier fashion designers: Isy Obi and Jawara Alleyne.

The theme this year really gives guests the chance to go all-out on their ensembles, maybe even giving the Met Gala a run for its money.

By the time December rolls around, the galas go into hiding for a month or two to accommodate the parties of the festive season. However, once February arrives, the calendar fills up once more with events for the Cayman Heart Fund, the Cayman Watercolours Calendar (which benefits the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and Cayman HospiceCare) and the Cayman Islands Humane Society. The Cayman HospiceCare Big Bash is usually held at Ristorante Pappagallo in May.

Not only are these galas entertaining to attend, they also raise money for important charities that could not operate without the generosity of donors.

So, start planning your outfits, make your appointments at the salon, and get ready for gala season.

—Vicki Wheaton