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Everything you need to know about Bahamas Junkanoo!

Everything you need to know about Bahamas Junkanoo!

Junkanoo Float

Junkanoo Float

For well over 500 years Junkanoo has been an important tradition on the Islands of the Bahamas. The actual history of Junkanoo is in dispute.  What is not in dispute is the entertainment that Junkanoo provides.  Nor is the thought and creativity that many groups put into the great tradition.  Junkanoo is a street party, parade all in one.  Creating the ultimate Carnival atmosphere.

Where to Experience Junkanoo?
Junkanoo Parade

Junkanoo Parade

The largest Bahamas Junkanoo Parade is in Nassau. The parade goes through the downtown streets of Nassau into the early hours of the morning on New Year’s Day. Usually from 2 AM to 10 AM on Nassau.  Other Bahamas Islands with Junkanoo Celebrations are Grand Bahama Island, Eleuthera & Harbour Island, Bimini, The Exumas, and The Abacos.

What is a Junkanoo Dance Troupe?
Junkanoo Parade Troupe

Junkanoo Parade Troupe

Junkanoo Dance Troupes can be as large as 1000 people.  The Junkanoo Troupes perform a “Rush Out”.  That is where each Troupe performs all by themselves. Each Troupe has its own unique color.  The Troupes consist of floats, musicians/bands, dancers, flags, and feathers.  The costumes are usually made from cardboard and are decorated with paint, feathers, crepe paper and costume jewelry.  The beautiful ladies wear decorated bikini tops often adorned with jewels.  Fishnet and other decorative pantyhose round out the outfits The Ladies have the most magnificent makeup jobs you can ever see.  The musicians play a combination of drums, cowbells, whistles, and horns.  Each group has a theme and the Troupes dance and perform all the way along the course.  It is a sight to see.

Preparing for Junkanoo

Junkanoo Troupes begin preparing for the next year January 2nd.  The day after the parade is over.  They come up with a new theme.  Begin to build new floats.  Start gathering materials to make new costumes.  While the leaders choreograph a brand-new routine and teach it to the Troupe.  The Troupes will practice all year for the next performance.  People in the Bahamas follow and back different Troupes like we in America back and follow sports teams.  Each Junkanoo Dance Troupe has their own fans and the loyalty is passed down from generation to generation.  

Children and Junkanoo

Some Junkanoo Troupes will have children rushing in the parade.  The children are usually dressed in similar costumes as the adults.  Children have their own Junkanoo program that starts in grade school.  The Junior program is the lifeline for the future Junkanoo.  It provides opportunities for kids to learn the traditions and gives them a chance to showcase their talents.  The Junior Junkanoo program cultivates school spirit, enhances self-pride, builds self-esteem, and contributes to the overall patriotism of young Bahamas citizens.  Because of the Junior Program, children and parents can recognize their child’s talents in music or dance and have become professionals in musicians or dance.

The Popularity of Junkanoo is Growing
Junkanoo Dancer

Junkanoo Dancer

The Bahamas celebration of Junkanoo traditionally takes place over Christmas (December 26 Boxing Day) and New Years Day.   New, is the Junkanoo Carnival in Nassau and Grand Bahamas Islands.  Junkanoo Carnival is usually the end of April on Grand Bahamas and the first weekend in May in Nassau.  Junkanoo Summer has been introduced throughout June and July on different Bahamas Islands. The Summer Junkanoo blends art, culture, music with local and national entertainers join the parade through the streets.  Check the local Bahamas Island Calendars for exact dates!

Junkanoo Male Dancer

Junkanoo Male Dancer

Important Links:

Junkanoo Photo Gallary

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 28 different Countries mainly concentrated in the Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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