The Bahamas is about to get even better now that you’ve heard of Junkanoo. For centuries, the streets of the Bahamas have come to life on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day for this very special tradition. Junkanoo is a festive street parade where thousands of well-prepped performers take to the streets to perform their routines. Think wild dancers, rhythmic musicians, colorful costumes and spectators lining the streets, peering over balconies and standing on top of cars just to get a glimpse of the action – and join in too.

Feel the rush

Junkanoo celebrations have become so popular in The Bahamas that not only do they celebrate the festival on the traditional days of Boxing and New Year’s, but with special events in May and July as well! A centuries old tradition, the most popular belief is Junkanoo came from the days of slavery when people were given just three days off a year. And what did they do with those days? They took to the streets to celebrate with dancing, singing, wearing colourful masks and more. Fast forward to today and Junkanoo is enjoying by thousands of people from all walks of life each year who descend on The Bahamas in time for the famous rush-out.

Head to capital Nassau for the biggest Junkanoo parade, but keep in mind places like Grand Bahama Island, Bimini and The Abacos do a decent job of the festival too. Performers spend months perfecting routines, designing costumes and getting the rhythm just right. In addition to Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, the government hosts a Junkanoo Summer Festival during the month of July as well as the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in May. Both are great ways to experience the best of Bahamian culture and provide an electric party atmosphere. Get ready to dance.

Bahamas

When is it?

01st January 2015 to 31st December 2016

Tips and tricks

  • Junkanoo celebrations are a popular time to visit The Bahamas. Booking your flights, accommodation and transfers well in advance is strongly recommended. Universal Traveller is here to help!

  • Head to capital Nassau for the biggest Junkanoo celebrations. You can also try: The Abacos, The Exumas, Bimini, Harbour Island and Grand Bahama Island.

  • You need to pre-purchase tickets for Junkanoo parades in Nassau. Talk to your travel agent.

  • No matter what Junkanoo or location you choose, be ready for the rush-out – when a drum starts tapping and slowly builds into a rhythm to call everyone out into the streets.

  • During the Junkanoo Summer Festival, a large Junkanoo is usually held on 10 July to coincide with Independence Day.

  • Junkanoo happens in the wee hours – from 2am to 10am – so be ready!

Other things to do

The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba lies at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico and offers a unique insight into the charm of an age... more
The country’s tourism slogan ‘it’s better in the Bahamas’ is a big call yet lives up to the hype for travelers to this tropical island pa... more
The largest of three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is the ultimate family and resort holiday destination owing to pristine beaches, loads ... more
If green mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, tropical beaches and world-class coral reefs tickle your fancy, you might want to consider a... more