Bahamians love to celebrate their heritage, and if you’re aware of these celebrations, it can add an exciting and authentic dimension to any vacation. There are also a variety of international festivals and tournaments scattered throughout the calendar to keep the tourist or expatriate busy.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN THE BAHAMAS
Like most countries, public holidays in the Bahamas will often close down banks and government services. Here are some dates to keep in mind:
January 1: New Year’s Day
January 10: Majority Rule Day
March 29: Good Friday
April 1: Easter Monday
May 20: Whit Monday (also known as Pentecost Monday, a feast of on the Christian calendar, which moves each year)
June 7: Labor Day
July 10: Independence Day (It was only in 1973 that The Bahamas became fully independent from Britain)
August 5: Emancipation Day. Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and areas of the United States on various dates to mark the freedom of African slaves.
October 12: National Heroes’ Day. This day celebrates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World in 1492.
December 25: Christmas Day
December 26: Boxing Day
THERE ARE SEVERAL TRADITIONAL FESTIVALS CELEBRATED EACH YEAR
Junkanoo celebrations take to the streets of Nassau twice a year: Christmas and New Year’s Day. Junkanoo originates from when slave owners gave African slaves a few days off around this time. In modern times, it’s a celebration of freedom and life, and you’ll see spectacular costumes, music and dancing.
The Junkanoo parade is one of the most attended festivals in the Bahamas. The event is actually a heated competition between various rival Junkanoo clubs. You can purchase tickets to the festival and even snag a great seat downtown near Parliament.
Keep an eye out for other Junkanoo-style parties and parades throughout the year. These can include spontaneous “rush outs”, when locals wearing traditional dress rush into the streets to play live music and dance.
OTHER ANNUAL FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
There are many other events and festivities to keep in mind, all of which could influence your travel to the Bahamas. Here are some highlights:
January 1: Staniel Cay New Year’s Day Cruising Regatta.
Mid-January: Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino Crystal Pro-Am Golf Tournament is one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the Caribbean with a grand prize of $100,000.
End of January: Bahamas Speed Week, a marquee event in Nassau back in the 50s and 60s, has recently been revived in the Bahamian capital. It attracts multi-million-dollar vintage cars from around the world. During the event, race car drivers and participants are invited to Grand Isle Resort & Spa in Exuma for boating, island hopping and relaxation.
(242) 447-6114 or (242) 358 5000
February 4: Running for several days, the Farmer’s Cay Regatta is a major event in the sailing and boating world. The island, located in Exuma, comes alive with hundreds of boats.
Mid-February: Grand Isle Resort & Spa plays host to Canadian Olympic athletes for a week of activities, speeches and fundraising. Call reception for details.
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April: The National Family Island Regatta, traditionally held on the main island of Exuma, is one of the biggest events of the year. It draws thousands of locals and tourists.
Mid-July: The Miss Commonwealth Beauty Pageant, held at Atlantis on Paradise Island, is a huge fan favourite among the locals. Come watch Bahamian beauties strut their stuff.
October 13: McLean’s Town Conch Cracking Festival began in 1973 and continues to attract both domestic and international visitors. On Grand Bahama Island, the event includes a conch-cracking contest and lots of great food and drink for the whole family.
Late-November: Battle 4 Atlantis on Paradise Island is a premier college basketball tournament at the country’s largest resort. Eight top-notch college teams battle it out each year in what has become the largest tournament of its kind outside of the U.S.
December 4-14: The Bahamas International Film Festival has attracted many noted celebrities, such as Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage. A handful of these movie stars have homes in the country.
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