Junkanoo is a beautiful expression of Bahamian cultural, which encompasses parades held in the Bahamas twice a year, the 1st in January and 26th of December. Bahamian culture is showcased through music, art, and dance. Dancers and musicians draped in creative ornate costumes fill the parade route for a spectacular day of pageantry.
There are various stories about the origins of Junkanoo, but the most accepted begins with the origin of the word Junkanoo itself. Many believe that the word Junkanoo comes from the name of the African prince and slave trader, John Canoe. During the 17th century he seized control of Fort Brandenburg from the English and became a force to be feared by both the Dutch and the English. The slaves, however, revered him as a hero. Slaves brought to the Bahamas kept up their reverence to him through the Junkanoo festival.
Before emancipation slaves were allowed three (3) three days off each year, New Years Day (January 1st), Christmas (December 25th), and Boxing Day (December 26th), On January 1st and December 26th the slaves were allowed to hold their Junkanoo festival. Long after emancipation the Junkanoo tradition carries on with many of the same characters and some that have been added over the many centuries of the festival's existence.
The Bahamian Development Board recognized the potential economic impact of the commercialization of Junkanoo, so in the 1920's the participants became more competitive, cash prizes were awarded, and the event became the island nation's biggest tourist attraction. After many years of trial and error, real organization came to the event during the 1950', which includes a set standard of rules. Today, some of the major Junkanoo groups competing each year for the grand prize include: The "Valley Boys," the "Saxons Superstars," the "Roots", and the "One Family."
Each year over 50,000 revelers converge on to the Bahamas to experience Junkanoo.
Junkanoo is a safe family event that can be enjoyed by children of all ages. Food vendors on hand selling water, other beverages, and authentic Bahamian food and souvenir vendors make this event both memorable for revelers and profitable for the country.
Junkanoo Dates & Location
Junkanoo parade normally begins with a shotgun start at 2 a.m., on Boxing Day (December 26th) and New Year's Day (1st January), and continues until approximately 9 AM when the results of the parade are publicly announced in world-famous Rawson Square. Although Junkanoo is held yearly on New Year's Day and Boxing Day each year, all dates are subject to change. Most of the major Bahamian islands celebrate Junkanoo, but the largest and most popular major parades take place in town Nassau, New Providence. Here revelers "rush" around several blocks on Bay Street and Shirley Street. The parade route is subject to change.
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