*I was invited to The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival by Visit The Bahamas to share my experience. All opinions are my own*
There’s always a uniqueness to all the Caribbean islands that host a Carnival. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to get an extended invitation to The Bahamas to cover Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in Nassau just a few days after my birthday trip to Martinique.
What is The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival?
The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is a week-long celebration of culture in the Bahamas. Locals and tourists immerse themselves in Afro Bahamian culture, which includes vivid colors, the best music, finger foods, Bahamian history, art, handmade costumes, and local crafts. If you’re a spectator and have never experienced mas in The Bahamas, here are some ways to celebrate The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.
When is Carnival in the Bahamas?
Not to be confused with the Junkanoo celebration, an intense competition celebrated in The Bahamas since the 17th century on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and during The Bahamas’s Summer festivals, Carnival time in The Bahamas is celebrated in May. The first Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was the first weekend in May but has since moved to the second to last weekend in May.
Where to Stay for The Bahamas Carnival
Our group stayed at Warwick Paradise Island, an Adults Only All Inclusive boutique hotel. While it isn’t close to the festivities, it is the perfect escape for relaxing between the main events. For those wanting to be in the middle of the action, the best place to stay is in the downtown area on New Providence Island, close to the parade route, Arawak Cay, Shirley Street, or Bay Street like the SLS Baha Mar, Goldwynn Resorts & Residences, or the Courtyard Marriott. You can use the interactive map to choose a hotel or house rental that meets your budget.
Learn About the Junkanoo Culture
While visiting Nassau for The Bahamas Carnival, you can learn about Junkanoo in The Bahamas in the many museums around the island, like the Junkanoo Expo Museum and Junkanoo World. Owned by Quinton “Barabbas” Woodside, the Junkanoo World Museum and Arts Centre gives the interesting history of John Canoe, The Bahamas Junkanoo culture, the Junkanoo parade and showcases goatskin drums, elaborate costumes, and photos of past festivals. Read about our group’s experience at Junkanoo World Museum from travel and entertainment writer Dyschick.
Attend The Bahamas Carnival Cultural Shows
Visit Da Cultural Village for events catering to individuals and families. Jam to live music while eating Bahamian delicacies in the food courts. Shuttle buses are available from major hotels, or you can visit by taking a 10-minute walk from Downtown Nassau. JunkaMania kicks off the carnival celebration, showcasing the Mas of local bands. Hear live performances from local and international artists at the Music Masters Concert and Competition.
Watch masqueraders in their beautiful costumes parade the streets of Downtown Nassau at the Road Fever Street Party, which concludes the carnival celebration. Like other carnivals in the USA and the West Indies, you can continue the celebration with several night-time fetes (private parties run by local promoters).
Do Other Activities in Nassau
I always encourage learning about a country’s local culture regardless of destination. The Bahamas are more than beautiful beaches, flamingos, and conch fritters. Take a mini-break from the Carnival to see what the islands of the Bahamas have to offer.
Some activities and excursions around Nassau and Paradise Island include a bike tour with the Warwick Paradise Island‘s Resort, rum tasting at John Watlings Distillery, or the Straw Market for hand-made gifts. You can also visit the Atlantis Resort for dining, aquarium, water park fun, and more.