Junkanoo is the most famous annual events in the Bahamas, an annual carnival celebration that takes place in December and January. The Bahamas also plays host to a number of other events, including an international film festival and a quirky celebration of the humble conch.
Usually held the second Thursday in December, the Junior Junkanoo Parade highlights the talents of the next generation of Bahamian Junkanoo dancers. But this is no simple kid's stuff: children learn Junkanoo in the Bahamas at their parents' elbows from a tender age, and the Junior Junkanoo dancers will astound visitors with their skills.
Dec. 26 is the biggest (non-religious) festival day in the Bahamas because that's when the Boxing Day Junkanoo parades take place across the islands of the Bahamas, featuring the best junkanoo groups in their elaborate costumes dancing to a pounding beat. The parades start at 2 a.m., just after midnight Christmas Mass concludes and the celebration of Christ's birth gives way to overtly joyous celebration.
Bajans welcome the New Year with parades featuring traditional junkanoo dancing and music, on islands from Grand Bahama to Abaco. The parade in Nassau is the biggest and considered the best; it starts at 2 a.m. and runs through 8 a.m. Other parades take place on New Year's morning.
McLean's Town Conch Cracking Festival, Grand Bahama Island
This wonderfully authentic (and delicious) local event celebrates the flavor of the conch. Filled with great food, traditional games, and of course the contest to determine the title of "Best Conch Cracker."
This isn't your typical island "off-season" event: BIFF is a world-renowned film festival that attracts Hollywood celebs like Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery as well as up-and-coming directors anxious to showcase their films. Runs Dec. 6-13 and includes screenings, panel discussions, and gala events.