Experience the Bahamian Junkanoo Festival
The Bahamian Junkanoo Festival is the ideal way to truly experience Bahamian culture and art. Junkanoo is a vibrant time in the Bahamas when the streets are filled with energetic parades, bright costumes, music and dancing. The celebration occurs on December 26 and January 1, beginning at 2 AM and ending at dawn.
Junkanoo celebrations take place on Grand Bahama, Eleuthra, Bimini and Abaco, but Nassau holds the most spectacular display. The parade participants come in flocks and are organized by themes. Visitors who have also been to Carnival or Mardi Gras will definitely see similarties between the celebrations, but Junkanoo remains distinctly Bahamian. Parade participants, arranged in groups of up to 1,000, are organised around a particular theme. Their costumes, dance and music reflect this theme. At the end of the Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes. The three main categories for the awards are: best music, best costume and best overall group presentation.
While Junkanoo traditions have evolved, so, too, have the costumes. In earlier parades sea sponges, leaves, fabric and shredded paper have their part in costume construction. Today's costumes are made out of crepe paper that is meticulously glued to fabric, cardboard or wood. They usually consist of a headdress, shoulder piece and skirt, which are elaborate and brilliantly colored. Some costumes are so intricate that they can take group members up to a year to complete.
Junkanoo costumes that may have once been discarded as rubbish after the parade, are now being preserved for posterity. The winning creations are also placed in the Junkanoo Museum.