While most of the world are recovering from the champagne and cocktails of New Year’s Eve, the Bahamas are gearing up for a glorious day of colorful revelry. Junkanoo is one of the best times to visit the glossy blue and white shores of the Bahamas, it’s a time when the thump of goatskin drums fill the streets, when communities come together, when the rum flows like fire in the belly, and when feathers adorn every costume in town.
The True Spirit of Junkanoo
The spirit of Junkanoo comes from a time when slavery swept the picture-perfect islands of these parts. Over the Christmas period the slaves would be given three days away from work. During this time, they would take to the streets in home crafted costumes pieced together from old newspapers, sea sponges and island junk. They would dance to the music of their homelands and let loose in the feeling of freedom. Since then, Junkanoo has become an expression of identity and has turned into something unique Bahamian for the whole world to enjoy. The festive spirit kicks off on boxing day and on New Year’s Day is in full swing.
Hand Crafted Costumes and Dazzling Displays
Those who have visited the wild streets of Rio for carnival or tasted the spice of creole cooking and seen the flash of beads in New Orleans Mardi Gras will already have an idea as to how crazy life can get around junkanoo. Months before the costumes start to be painstakingly created under a secret theme. These costumes can weigh a staggering hundred pounds and are so large and lavish that they can only be worn for a limited period. The jangling of bells and traditional drums accompany the parades, as competing dance troupes perform dazzling displays.
Where to Catch the Action
Nassau is the largest and most sensational spot to enjoy the frivolity of Junkanoo. For those who seek a more intimate experience with the locals then you are sure to find Grand Bahama Island, Eleuthera, Bimini, The Abacos and the Exumas offer their own color and charm. The docks brim with small processions, the costumes catch the light, everyone is half drunk from the glugs of coconut and banana rum, and satiated by the taste of salty conch and guava jam. With bare toes curling over pink sands you know this is the only way to bring in the New Year.
Where to Sleep in Serenity
If you choose to stay on the shimmering shores of the aptly named Paradise Island, then the One and Only Resort and former playboy haunt could be just the ticket. The place boasts legendary splendor with its white pavilions, super star chef, signature 18-hole golf course, and glorious garden cottages. Those seeking something a little more private can sail to Kamalame Cay on Andros. This smidge of an island is completely private and offers sugar spun cottages with French doors to throw open for romantic sea views. Hammocks hang lazily strung between palm trees and the overwater spa will be sure to bring you back to life once Junkanoo is done with you.
If you didn’t make it to this year’s Junkanoo, then be sure to put a plan in place for the next one, rumor has it that 2017 is going to be a scorcher of color and charm.