The Bahamas are full of unique people who embrace their diverse cultural heritage. Residents who have migrated from various lands over hundreds of years are proud to call the Bahamas their home. If you’re planning a visit to Paradise Island in the Bahamas, you’ll find friendly people and strong cultural influences that have contributed to some of the world’s best cultural events with exciting festivals, art, food, and music.
One of the most unique Bahamian festivals is the Junkanoo, held around the Christmas holidays every year. It began as a way to celebrate several days of freedom given to African slaves during Christmas time. Slaves joined together with colorful costumes made from crepe paper, lively music and native dances to celebrate their African roots. Although the Junkanoo festival almost died out with the abolishment of slavery, islanders kept it going, and it became one of the best festivals on the island. Each year, the Junkanoo begins on December 26 in the early morning hours. It starts with a parade through the streets and continues with beautiful costumes, delicious food, and lively music.
Bahamas International Film Festival
Every year in December, the Bahamas host the Bahamas International Film Festival to honor local filmmakers and showcase their work. As a major annual attraction, the event draws famous filmmakers, actors, actresses and directors from all over the world. The opening night gala includes an elaborate party with great food, film screenings, panel discussions and dancing. Although the festival celebrates local filmmakers and their films, the Bahamas International Film Festival is attended by interested film buffs from various regions around the world.
Bahamas Heritage Festival
Each year, at the end of April or beginning of March, The Bahamas Heritage Festival takes place on Paradise Island. It focuses primarily on the culture of the islands and features traditional island dances, music, food, and creative story-telling from the islanders, especially the older islanders who have wonderful stories to tell about their heritage. The Bahamas Heritage Festival also includes the Great Bahamas Seafood Festival which showcases island seafood dishes with Bahamian flavor.
Island Roots Heritage Festival
The Island Roots Heritage Festival is held every May in New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. This lively festival celebrates the island’s loyalist heritage and African roots and promotes peaceful cohabitation of the two cultures that has existed for hundred of years. The Island Roots Heritage Festival is a family-friendly cultural event that includes a colorful parade, great island foods, and live music from local musicians. The kids can enjoy a tug-of-war contest, a conch cracking contest, and an exciting pirate demonstration.
In June, you can enjoy The Pineapple Festival which takes place in Gregory Town on Eleuthera Island. The festival honors the pineapple industry and its workers that have been part of Bahamian history since the island was settled. Festival activities are fun for the entire family with activities that include a pineapple eating contest, a pineapple cooking contest, a 40-mile bicycle race around the island, and the Little Miss Pineapple Pageant.
Paradise Island is a wonderful adventure with exciting cultural events year-round. If you’re planning a visit, you’ll find wonderful hotels in Paradise Island with beautiful accommodations. Sunrise Beach Club and Villas offers relaxing island atmosphere that reflects authentic Bahamian culture and heritage.
Top photo: DeusXFlorida/Flickr