Junkanoo is a national festival in The Bahamas, held in the early morning hours of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.
A procession of dancers in brightly colored costumes “rush” through the streets, making music on goat-skin drums, cowbells, conch shell horns and whistles.
The revelers, both young and old, spend all year pasting their costumes together, many of which are made out of cardboard covered in colorful crepe paper.
Spectators join in the celebration, singing and dancing to make it a big street party.
The origin of the word Junkanoo is unknown. Some say it comes from the French word “L-inconnu,” meaning the unknown in reference to the masks worn by the parade participants.
Others believe it was named for John Canoe, an African tribal chief who demanded the right to celebrate with his people during the 16th and 17th centuries after being brought to the West Indies as slaves.
The slaves were given a special holiday during Christmas when they could leave the plantations to celebrate and be with their families with African dance, music and costumes. After emancipation, they continued the tradition and Junkanoo has evolved from its simple origins to organized parades with intricate costumes and music.
These photos were taken at the Junkanoo festival in Green Turtle Cay in Abaco, in the northern Bahamas.
For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.