The locals love to celebrate and have fun and there is always some colorful carnival happening in the Bahamas. The biggest event in the Bahamian calendar is Junkanoo; a street carnival in Nassau that runs from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day. Independence Day is also worth catching if you’re here in mid-July.
This fun, cultural event is on par with Carnival in Rio, with lots of costumes and parades in the streets. It takes place in Nassau, on New Providence Island, between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with the latter having the best of it. Expect lots of color and noise (Junkanoo music), African customs, and gaudy outfits. There is also a smaller Junkanoo festival in June/July.
Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival
This is one of the most useful events on Exuma Island to partake in if you are here in mid-February and fancy taking in Bahamian culture. There’s plenty of singing by way of local and visiting musicians, along with readings and storytelling, so it is good for kids. There is also the opportunity to pick up Bahamian arts and crafts, including conch shell carvings, and to sample traditional dishes.
The Bahamas celebrates their national day on July 10, when the country was ceded from Great Britain in 1973. The day features all sorts of parties and events countrywide, including beach festivities, parades, and fireworks. All islands get in on the party, with special attention on Nassau and Freeport, as well as the hotels of Paradise Island.
Bahamians mark the abolition of slavery in 1834 on August 1. The day is a public holiday across the islands, though events span a whole week. It is best experienced in the former slave village of Fox Hill Village, Nassau, and in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera Island.
International Beer Festival
Fancy swilling the best of Bahamian and some international beers? The Olde Town Mall in Sandyport (at the western end of Cable Beach, Nassau) has many beers available from the UK, America, and Asia, as well as from the Bahamas. It takes place over a weekend towards the end of September, but the downer is it only runs from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m..
Many countries celebrate the exploits of Christopher Columbus, who discovered the New World. In the Bahamas, he is said to have landed on San Salvador on October 12, 1492; a pretty island to the east of Cat Island. This day is marked on a Friday or Monday in mid-October, and is also referred to as Columbus Day.
Bahamas Film Festival
Movies, documentaries, and animation by Bahamian film producers are shown at Nassau’s Galleria Cinemas during the Bahamas Film Festival. It takes place over a few days in early December and can be a cultural experience featuring educational programs and open and closing galas.