Travellers from Canada, the U.S., Latin America and as far away as Europe enjoyed the music, culture and vibes at last year’s inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. This year’s event is almost underway. “My advice is to book now. In fact, book now for next year’s Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival too!” says Bahamas National Festival Commission CEO Roscoe Dames, in this week’s Friday 5.
1. Intense preparations are underway for this year’s Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, kicking off April 15 with the main festival May 5 – 7. What can you tell us about this great event?
Dames: “Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is the perfect dose of music, culture and vibes. These three components make up the exciting festival that starts in one island, and ends in another – two islands, one epic festival. For all the music lovers out there, the down-home flavours of Bahamian music served with a Caribbean fusion of Soca, Reggae and Latin vibes will take centre stage at the festival both in Grand Bahama and Nassau.
“For those seeking a unique cultural experience, Da Cultural Village is the heart of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival bustling with activity throughout the carnival season. Here is where we showcase the unique offerings of The Bahamas including food, culture, arts, craft and non-stop entertainment featuring Junkanoo, Rake ‘n’ Scrape and world rhythms. The village has something for everyone.
“Road Fever is the original Bahamian masquerade street party that closes out the annual Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in Nassau. This costume parade incorporating a unique mix of live and recorded music is where you can enjoy all the vibes with masses of people dancing and partying in the streets.”
2. The inaugural Junkanoo Carnival took place last year. What were some of the lessons learned from that first event?
Dames: “We learned that The Bahamas can pull off an amazing Carnival event. This is just the type of event that Bahamians and the many visitors to The Bahamas are looking for. We also learned that the strength of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival does not rest on the shoulders of a single performer or headliner but on all of our all-star artists, with the Bahamian and international acts being equally as important to creating the overall brand experience. Last year thousands of people came out to each event to enjoy Da Cultural Village and to see all of the acts.”
3. Did you get many international visitors at last year’s Junkanoo Carnival and are you expecting the numbers will be even higher this year?
Dames: “Several international visitors enjoyed the first year of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. We saw visitors from Canada, the U.S., Latin America and as far away as Europe, enjoying the music, culture and vibes and even participating in the Road Fever parade. We expect even more visitors this year. We have partnered with Expedia, we are marketing through the cruise lines, and the word is out after an amazing event last year. People now want to travel to The Bahamas, not only for the amazing food, people, beached and culture, they also want to attend Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.”
4. Should international visitors (and their travel agents) be aware of high occupancy situations during April and May for Junkanoo Carnival?
Dames: “We anticipate that April and May will continue to see high occupancy thanks to this new festival. My advice is to book now. In fact, book now for next year’s Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival too!”
5. What else is new and exciting in The Bahamas?
Dames: “The Bahamas is known for its unique and robust culture. The Bahamas government recently announced there will be ‘Four Seasons of Culture’, which will each include a myriad activities for Bahamians and visitors alike. There’s the traditional Junkanoo season which runs from October to January. That leads right into the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival season from February to May. June and August will see the annual Goombay Summer Festival that visitors continue to enjoy. There are also Jazz and Heritage festivals planned throughout the year. There is so much to do in The Bahamas, and right now we’re getting ready for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.”