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Junkanoo is the biggest festival on New Providence Island that occurs on December 26 and January 1. Billed as a cross-between New Orleans' Mardi Gras and Rio De Janerio's Carnivale, Junkanoo is a celebration of Bahamian culture featuring a parade of brightly colored costumes, energetic dancing, and loud music. Each year's parade has a different theme, and cash prizes are awarded to the groups that best celebrate the theme. If attending the festival, be prepared for an early morning; the parade begins in the wee hours of the morning at 2 a.m. and lasts until sunrise.
There is also a Junkanoo Summer Festival that is a bit smaller than the Winter Festival and several venues around the island host Junkanoo festivities year-round.
Some of the events of the festival include a street parade, the Islands Family Tree Pavilion, where traditional Bahamian families are honored; the Island Pavilion, honoring a different island every week; theatre presentations by local companies, storytelling, traditional games; and Junkanoo every Friday and Saturday. The festival also hosts the Royal Ponciana Tea Party at the Government House on Sundays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm - times may vary.
If you can't make it to the festival, you can at least check out the Junkanoo Expo. Located in Nassau, the expo showcases handmade floats and costume from previous years' celebrations. Cost of admission to the expo is $2 for adults and .50 cents for children. The Junkanoo Expo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Emancipation Day is widely celebrated in the islands. A Junkanoo Rush Out is the way to celebrate with sailing and regatta events.
The Changing of the Guard Ceremony is an on going event that takes the traveler to old times. In the same fashion, the People to People Tea Party at the Governor's House gives the traveler a sense of the complexity of the marriage between Western and Bahamian cultures. It is a formal event that requires formal attire. Be prepared to listen to some exquisite Bahamian music, great stories and enjoy a great tea with Bahamian cakes and a variety of finger foods.