Some visitors of the Bahamas are so lucky, they get to enjoy their Bahamas vacation during the delightful holiday of Junkanoo. All of the islands flare up with bright colors, and high energy dancing to celebrate this unique holiday to the Bahamas. Deeply embedded in Bahamian culture and art, Junkanoo is a perfect example of what it means to be a Bahamian. The Junkanoo Festival is one of the most exciting and fun activities to do in the Bahamas, and if anyone is able to attend it, it should be high on the list.
The Junkanoo Festival is held on December 26th and January 1st, and goes all night from 2:00 a.m. to 8 a.m. This parade and festival is similar to the way Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or Carnival in Brazil. It is believe Junkanoo first started as a celebration for the freedom of slaves, after being given 3 days off for Christmas, in which the slaves played music, danced, and wore costumes through the island for the time they were allowed to leave the plantation for the holiday. The tradition of Junkanoo almost became extinct after slavery was abolished, but a few kept the tradition alive.
Today, Junkanoo is the celebration and symbolism of freedom to all of the Bahamas’ citizens. Where the word Junkoo derived from is a bit of a mystery for certain, but some believe it came from an African tribal chief named “John Canoe” that had demanded from the whites to be allowed to celebrate with other slaves, after being brought to the Caribbean. One thing is for certain, is that Junkanoo can be traced all the way back to it’s West African roots. And other islands of the Caribbean, such as Bermuda and Jamaica, have their own versions of the celebration.
This event is a spectacular opportunity to see all of the intricate work that has gone into each of the costumes, and all the musical instruments the Bahamians have handmade for the festival. Any visitor of the Bahamas that is not able to make it for a Junkanoo festival, should take the unique opportunity to visit the Junkanoo Expo Museum. It’s the perfect way to learn about Bahamas’ culture and see the extraordinary costumes, and get swept up in the Junkanoo beat, while learning a Junkanoo dance method.
Located at the Nassau’s waterfront, the museum showcases the Junkanoo Festival and parades that have passed to help visitors grasp all that is Junkanoo. This Junkanoo Expo Museum also includes a souvenir shop, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the Junkanoo Expo Museum, call (242) 356-2731.