“What is Junkanoo?” is a question that is often asked about the Bahamas. Junkanoo Bahamas is an annual festival that celebrates all that the country and its people have to be proud of. Each year the locals take to the streets, dressed in bright clothing and colorful headwear to sing, dance and take part in the exciting festivities throughout the country. Visitors are welcome to join in on this Bahamas Carnival, allowing for an immersive experience in the vibrant Bahamian culture.
The Junkanoo festival takes place throughout the archipelago, which means that no matter where you may be in the Bahamas during this event, you will have the chance to enjoy the celebration. That being said, the very best place to experience the Junkanoo festival Bahamas is in Nassau, the capital city. Based on New Providence Island, and home to more than half of the country’s population, the celebrations reach their peak on the streets of Nassau. What’s more is Nassau also puts a Junkanoo parade on display, which really draws an excited buzz from the crowds.
Since you can experience the Bahamas Carnival on any island, you can even experience it on an island hopping tour with Bahamas Air Tours. Not only will you be able to take part in the festivities, but you will have the chance to experience them on a number of different islands as you explore the beautiful Out Islands. This will bring an exciting and unique aspect to your Junkanoo Bahamas tour, combining the beauty of flight and the Bahamas from above with the fun of the festival.
When to experience the Bahamas Carnival
The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival takes place each year on Independence Day in July, as well as every Saturday Night in Nassau in July. You can also experience this festival on the 26th of December and the 1st of January. However, this is not the only time that the streets come alive with this celebration. Grand Bahama Island will host a Junkanoo Bahamas festival in April 2018, and the people of Nassau will showcase their Junkanoo costumes during the festival in May 2018.
If you are fortunate enough to be visiting during any of these dates, you will find that the Junkanoo festival Bahamas is not just a single celebration, but rather a collection of events, with Junkanoo bands playing concerts, cultural shows throughout the city and of course the Junkanoo parade. Each of these events celebrate certain aspects of the Bahamian heritage, providing you with a comprehensive insight into the magical culture of the country.
The Bahamas cools down over the winter season from December to March, which means that if you are planning on experiencing the Junkanoo winter festival, be sure you have warm clothes packed for the evenings and early mornings when the temperatures are relatively low. The Junkanoo winter festival over the new year is just as vibrant and full of life as the July celebrations, so if you’re on a Christmas Vacation you won’t be missing out!
A History of Junkanoo Bahamas
Much like any other cultural celebration across the globe, Junkanoo Bahamas is a festival with immense historical significance. Junkanoo history and the origin story of this Bahamas Carnival is a different one depending on who you ask. Many of the locals will explain that the celebration was named after the West-African Prince, John Canoe, when asked the question “what is Junkanoo?”. This prince is said to have outwitted the English, becoming a local hero, and the festival honors his acts. Others believe that the Junkanoo festival Bahamas developed from the French idea of “gens inconnus” which roughly translates to “strangers” or “masked people”, which follows the dress-up theme of Junkanoo.
The most popular of all the stories, though, is that the Bahamas Carnival was established from the days of slavery. Each year, the 18th-century slaves of the Bahamas were given 3 days off for Christmas, this led to celebrations in the streets with colorful masks, singing and dancing. Over the years, and once slavery was abolished, this tradition died out, but was reborn as the Junkanoo Bahamas festival, commemorating the slaves of the past and celebrating the Bahamas of today.
Though it can be entertaining hearing the stories of Junkanoo history from the locals, and while you may never know the true origin of this festival, the fact remains that this is one of the world’s most exciting and colorful celebrations, and it is entirely worth taking part in. Participating in the Bahamas Carnival is undoubtedly the best way to immerse yourself in the marvelous Bahamian culture and to share in their exuberant traditions.
The Flavor of the Bahamas
The people of the Bahamas are known around the world as being some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals of any destination. Their culture is a rich one, and to fully experience it, you’ll need to try the local food, drinks, shop for local crafts and explore some of the country’s historical sites to get a deeper understanding for where the Bahamas came from.
The Bahamas is known best for its delectable seafood dishes. With the freshest of fish on offer at every restaurant, you will enjoy seafood like never before. However, the authentic Bahamian way to taste these dishes is at a local Fish Fry. Rows of stalls and grills can be found throughout the country, all offering fresh fish prepared in a variety of different ways. Though their fish may be popular, the staple meat of the Bahamas is a white, chewy flesh known as conch. You can try cracked conch (deep fried), grilled conch, conch and citrus salad, conch fritters, conch on a seafood platter and even raw conch, each of which providing a new and interesting combination of flavours unique to the Bahamas. During the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival the air will be filled with the mouthwatering smell of these Fish Fry’s as the locals prepare food for the crowds.
This food is best paired with some local drinks. The Bahamas is known for its rum production, and the John Watling’s Spirit of the Bahamas rum is among the best in the world. Sipping on this sweet and spicy amber-coloured drink while tasting some traditional Bahamian dishes is the perfect way to spend your Junkanoo Bahamas festival. If beer is more to your taste, then the Kalik beer of the Bahamas is for you. In fact, this brand is a sponsor of the Bahamas Carnival, which means that while you’re listening to some of the Junkanoo bands, or watching the Junkanoo Parade, you’ll undoubtedly be near a store or stall selling this local product.
The Junkanoo Bahamas Experience
With locals dressed in colourful Junkanoo costumes in every direction, and an unlimited number of experiences in store for you, visiting this country during the Junkanoo Bahamas celebrations is a must! Not only will you be immersed in the local culture and learn a great deal about the people of the Bahamas and their rich history, you will also have the chance to taste local dishes, drink Kalik beer and celebrate alongside these warm and welcoming people.
Fortunately, you can enjoy the Junkanoo Bahamas festivities on an Island Hopping Tour with Bahamas Air Tours. Providing you with unique and exciting experiences as you tour the picturesque archipelago. There is nothing like a Bahamas Carnival to ensure that your Island Hopping tour is a memorable one!
Select images courtesy of the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism.
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