Summary: The Bahamas qualifies as the tropical oasis people have always dreamed about. Whether it's relaxing in the sun, sailing, scuba diving, or taking in the local culture, the Bahamas offers whatever you are looking for in a vacation.
Welcome to the Bahamas, the tropical oasis you have always dreamed of. What makes the Bahamas so special? Could it be the gorgeous waters? Is it the 700 islands? Or what about just relaxing in the sun? Whatever you are looking for in a vacation, the Bahamas is definitely the place to have it.
Every December 26th and January 1st at 2:00 am to 8:00 am the people of Bahamas celebrate the ever-popular Junkanoo. The Junkanoo is a very important and festive celebration to the Bahamians. It is a parade with many people playing music, dancing, and wearing gorgeous costumes. During these parades they have many contests such as: best costume, best music, and overall group presentation, where they receive cash prizes for winning. The Junkanoo is a lot like the New Orleans' Mardi Gras and The Rio De Janeiro's Carnival. The best Junkanoo parade occurs in Nassau, but you can...
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About Junkanoo in The Bahamas
Although the real Junkanoo is only twice a year, there is often a Junkanoo rush (a small group of Junkanoo performers) in the main tourist spots as well as a Junkanoo festival in June in Arawak Cay, Nassau. Every weekend during that month there is live entertainment by Bahamian artists as well as demonstrations of Junkanoo costume-making and cowbell creations.
There is also a Junkanoo Expo at the Prince George Wharf in Nassau, Bahamas. A colorful exhibition showcasing the costumes worn ate the Junkanoo celebration.
The original Junkanoo is the strongest remaining African tradition in the Bahamas. In the times of slavery, Christmas time was the only free time the slaves had, so they used this time for celebration.
The parades are characterized by spectacular costumes made of crepe paper and masks consist of colored cloth and leather. The stilt dancers, street dancers, clowns and acrobatic dancers are accompanied by powerful rhythms beaten traditionally on goatskin drums, cowbells, bugles, horns, whistles and conch shells.
The Junkanoo parades are performed by groups with names like The Saxons, The Music Maker, The Valley Boys, One Family, The Roots and many more. The groups are judged in categories for best costume, best music and best theme.
Learn more about history, music, dance and costumes of Junkanoo in the articles below.
There is also an interesting tour year around which brings the visitors close to the Bahamian culture and particularly the Junkanoo.
The Junkanoo parade in Nassau, Bahamas is the most famous one but there also similar festivals of music, costumes and dances in other Caribbean areas like the Jonkonnu in Jamaica, the Jankunu in Belize or the John Canoe in North Carolina, USA.
In the slavery era, the slaves were only allowed to have three days off: 25th and 26th December and 1st January. The 25th was reserved for Christmas and on the 26th and the 1st they were allowed to perform their Junkanoo festival.
In the 1920's, the Bahamas Development Board commercialized the Junkanoo as a parade on Bay Street in Nassau. Prizes were offered and the parade become more competitive. It developed into one of the main tourist attractions of the Bahamas.
In the 1950's, the parade became more organized, as categories were introduced and groups were formed. The 1960's saw the occurrence of the major groups which still exists today such as the "Valley Boys", "Saxons Superstars", "One Family" and "Music Makers".
In addition to these major groups, there are several smaller ones which have little chance to win any competitions against the big groups, but they still participate actively and enrich the parade.
The drum is made of metallic oil barrels with goat or sheep skin stretched over one end of the barrel. The drum is carried under the arm and supported by a strap over the shoulder. The drummer beats it with the bare hands.
Other instruments are the noisy flat slider clapper cowbells which are played in pairs and are shaken or struck together.
The horns are another integral part of the Junkanoo music. Four types of horns are used which accompany the rhythm and infectious strain of the music. Today foghorns, bicycle horns, the bronze bugle used in the army and the traditional conch shell are part of the music.
In the year 1976 the brass instrument was introduced. Nowadays a brass section is part of almost every Junkanoo group and harmonize well with the drums, cowbells, horns and whistles.
In the 1950's a new era in Junkanoo dancing was developed with the "Shuffle" and another creation known as the "Vola Shuffle", which are the most practiced Junkanoo dance until these days.
Since the 1980's the Junkanoo dance choreography became more professionalized. Professional dance companies were hired which came up with complete routines and steps for the parade.
The 1930's saw the introduction of sponge costumes and later in the 1950's the costumes were made from cloth and fringed tissue paper. In the 1960's costumes made out of cardboard and fringed crepe paper became popular.
Today the costumes are made of cardboard, crepe paper, aluminum rods, tie wire, contact cement and lot's of glue.
When constructing a costume, the first thing is to build a frame using aluminum rods. The costume design is drawn by hand onto a cardboard and the excess cardboard is cut out.
Tie wires are then pushed throughout the grooves of the cardboard to achieve the form and shape of the costume. Contact cement is applied to the cardboard pieces to hold them together. The cardboard pieces are attached to the frame by tie wires and are painted white.
The next step is the most time consuming part. It is the fixing of the colorful crepe paper on the costume with glue.
Nowadays Junkanooers use Styrofoam or Ethofoam instead of cardboard. The final touches of these costumes are done with glitter, stone, studs and decorative beads.