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The Colourful Carnival in Exuma

junkanoo

Legend has it that you haven’t needed an excuse to party in The Bahamas for well over 500 years.

But ask folks here at the top of the Caribbean how The Bahamas Junkanoo tradition got started and they’ll all tell you a different story—with many believing it was established by John Canoe, a legendary West African Prince, who outwitted the English and became a local hero; and others suspecting it comes from the French ‘gens inconnus,’ which translates as ‘unknown’ or ‘masked people’.

The most popular belief, however, is that it evolved from the days of slavery. Loyalists who migrated to The Bahamas in the late 18th Century brought their African slaves with them. The slaves were given three days off during the Christmas season, which they used to celebrate by singing and dancing in colorful masks, traveling from house to house, often on stilts. Junkanoo nearly vanished after slavery was abolished but the revival of the festival in The Bahamas now provides entertainment for many thousands.

The tradition continues to this day, with the main parade being the early hours of Boxing Day (December 26th). As the fame of the parades spread so the need to repeat the performance also spread.

New Years Day “Junkanoo”

MONDAY, JAN. 1, 2018
5:30pm – 12:00am

Junkanoo is the National Festival of the Bahamas; it represents our roots and it is our heritage. Junkanoo originated during the days of slavery when the slaves were given time off to celebrate the holidays with African dance, music and costume. The festival is named after “JOHN CANOE”, an African tribal chief who demanded the right to celebrate with his people even after being brought to the West Indies in Slavery.

Junkanoo today is a traditional rally to cowbells, whistles and goat-skin drums, as costumed revelers dance away.

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