"Junkanoo Is Back On Bay Street, Look Out!" The Bahamas Prepares For Its Beloved Festival
Photo Credit: Photo by Fernando Jorge

Photo Credit: Photo by Fernando Jorge

"Junkanoo Is Back On Bay Street, Look Out!" The Bahamas Prepares For Its Beloved Festival

Caribbean , Bahamas , news
Spencer Jones
Spencer Jones Dec 16, 2022

Earlier this year, we reported that Junkanoo, the most celebrated cultural event in The Bahamas, will return in all its splendor for the first time since the pandemic.

Locals, tourists and festival officials are excited for what is sure to be an unforgettable spectacle of bright colors, pulsating music and good vibes. A jovial end to a roller-coaster of a year for the travel industry, and the world in general.

Junkanoo has a variety of spellings, with “Junkanoo” as the most common. You might see “Jonkonnu” and even “Jankunu,” which all play on John Canoe. This was the anglicized name of a West African warrior revered by slaves for outfoxing the British.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, “the most common theory paints Junkanoo’s namesake, Canoe, as a faceless victim of the transatlantic slave trade. He was a captive trafficked to the Bahamas, where he persuaded the English to gift enslaved Africans Christmas Day off. When the holiday became a disruptive bother to the English colonial government, it dubbed it ‘junk anew’ or ‘junk enough.'”

The festival is observed by other, English speaking islands like Jamaica. Also, last July, Junkanoo Fest was held in Miami. But for the authentic experience, look no further than The Bahamas.

If you’re planning to attend Junkanoo, here are some tips from officials to keep in mind.

What Are The COVID Regulations?


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Few would have guessed that the pandemic would still be here nearly three years on.

That said, The Bahamas doesn’t require COVID testing and completion of a health visa for travelers at present.

But if you feel more comfortable wearing a mask, please do so.

Keep abreast of developments here.




Is There A Fee To Attend?


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There’s no fee to be a general spectator.

But if you want prime seating for the competition at Rawson Square, you’ll have to buy a ticket. They’re going fast!

According to The Tribune, “officials already sold 2,740 Junkanoo tickets for the Boxing Day parade, and 226 for New Year’s Day. Seventy-four percent of those purchases have been made online.”

Android users can grab tickets via the Aliv app.


What Are Officials Saying About Junkanoo?

“This year’s celebration of Junkanoo will be a special one for the Islands of The Bahamas,” said Latia Duncombe, Acting Director General, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation.

“The pride, resilience and spirit of The Bahamas will be felt across all of our 16 island destinations, as we celebrate our culture, our people and our country throughout this vibrant, world-renowned experience.”

She added, “the talented Junkanoo groups are making final touches on their performances as we speak, and they never disappoint.”

Percy ‘Vola’ Frances expressed similar sentiment. He’s often called the King of Junkanoo.

“Our celebrations offer all the works – history, education, creativity and colorful imagination,” he said. “We are a resilient group, and we’re feeling confident with our position this December. Junkanoo is back on Bay Street, look out!”

Dion Miller, Head of Junkanoo Corporation New Providence, chimed in.

“Junkanoo is our way of life and a true representation of what it means to be Bahamian. The rhythm is synonymous with our heartbeat.”



What Should You Wear?


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You can’t go wrong with feathers and sequins! That’s always an option at just about any Caribbean festival.

If you’re a spectator, it doesn’t hurt to be well rested and arrive early to get a prime spot.

The Bahamas is around 80 degrees in December and January, so please dress accordingly, and stay hydrated.

High-heels look cute, but why make your soles hate you? Sneakers and flats are the way to go.


Where Should You Stay?


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Bay Street is the main artery of the parade, and there are plenty of accommodations in or near this area.

Nassau Paradise Island offers an assortment of options with just about all budgets in mind.

Margaritaville Beach Resort is in the downtown area, and as far as restaurants are concerned, you’ll be spoiled for choice. With amenities like an on site water park and a spa, it’s a great option for families.

Just steps from the beach is Courtyard Marriott. You’ll also be in proximity to all the shops, boutiques and cultural centers.

For the “live like a local” experience, see what’s available on Airbnb.




What About Refreshments?

The only issue you’ll encounter where food is concerned, is trying to narrow down your choices.

Expect the Caribbean fare like fried fish, conch fritters, rum cake and much more.

According to Beach, “there’s a strict no-glass policy during Junkanoo, so you will not find alcoholic beverages sold in the streets. But you can certainly find them in restaurants lining the parade route.”

Also, plan to have cash on hand just in case. Many businesses along the parade route won’t take cards.


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