The capital Nassau takes a vibrant look as thousands flock the street with sounds, chatters and cow bells giving it a complete festive look like a wild ocean of color. Many onlookers beheld this sight in their eyes from the rooftops or balconies.
Junkanoo is an expression of Bahaman culture and manifestation of an energetic, colourful extravaganza with people gyrating to tunes and rhythms of cowbells, drums and whistles. It starts on 26th December morning and continues till January 1st (from 2 am till dawn). The parades are organized in different themes and accordingly the costumes, dances and music is arranged.
There are prizes to be won at the end of the parade in the categories of best music, best costumes and best group presentation. The best place to view the parade is Bay Street in Nassau.
Though the main festivities are held in Nassau, there are parades in Grand Bahama, Eleuthere, Bimini and Abaco.
Originally Junkanoo was a celebration of freedom for slaves of Bahamas. They had three days off during Christmas and parades are held on the roads in scary outfits to celebrate with their friends and families.
The origin of the name “Junkanoo” remains unknown while many theories do the round. But the roots of this festival can be dated back to West Africa where African slaves used to celebrate this festival.
As slavery was abolished the festival lost its spark, yet some islanders still celebrate it and Bahamas is the only country in the world where it is still celebrated.
The participating groups have 500-1000 participants and they wear elaborate costumes and practice their dance and songs well in advance. The groups have different names like “Valley Boys”, “One Family”, “Vikings”, etc.
Music is very important in Junkanoo which is made with goatskin drums, cowbells and whistles.