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Junkanoo at heart of Bahamas Carnival

Published:Tuesday | September 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dancers performing at the launch of the inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.

Four events planned for May 2015

Janet Silvera, Senior Staff Reporter

WESTERN BUREAU:Four events. One weekend. The Bahamians are opening up their air and seaports, offering revellers an opportunity to let loose in their islands from May 7 to 9, 2015. It is hoped that visitors from across the world will converge on the capital city, Nassau, and Grand Bahama (Freeport) for the four major events in the inaugural Bahamas Carnival, which will be infused with the traditional art of Junkanoo.

A vision of the country's prime minister, Perry Christie, Bahamas Carnival "is to stimulate sustainable economic opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the creative sector in our country", the prime minister told hundreds of guests at the event's launch at Pompey Square, Nassau, last Wednesday night.

According to Christie, a Junkanoo proponent, so far Bahamas Carnival has ignited Bahamians with creative talents of all sorts to combine for the opportunity to showcase their craft to the world.

Year-round employment

Standing firmly behind these talents, Christie is promising to make resources available to ensure the event's success. "It will stimulate year-round employment in the creative sector and positively impact our gross domestic product (GDP)," Christie said.

Being staged under the umbrella of the National Festival Commission Bahamas Carnival, which will be a collage of culture from the 700-plus islands, will be a festive occasion for Bahamians to "let loose after Lent".

The post-Lenten festival has several strengths that will give it a competitive advantage, Christie said, even while admitting that Bahamas Carnival joins a long list of some 200 similar events worldwide.

Not even slightly put off by that fact, the Bahamian prime minister said, "We are a well established destination brand, our hotel plant infrastructure is developed, there is broad public-private stakeholder support, we boast a captive market of six million annual visitors, accessibility of the North American market and the uniqueness of the Junkanoo art form and the enthusiasm of entertainers."

Of the four major events JunkaMania, which is on Thursday, May 7, is a grand explosion of Junkanoo orchestras, music and other folk forms, such as drumming and dance, on the biggest Junkanoo stage in the world, claim the organisers.

Music Masters

This will be followed on Friday, May 8, by Music Masters, a concert at which Bahamas' top contemporary artistes will compete before a global audience while sharing the stage with an A-list of international recording artistes.

"This high level entertainment experience sets the stage for Bahamian recording artistes to nurture their sound and express themselves in front of a global audience. It also includes an immersive parade on an iconic stage," stated Christie.

On Saturday, May 9, the organisers have planned Midnight Rush to take centrestage between midnight and 6 a.m.

Chairman of the Festival Commission Paul Major said Road Fever will close the festivities. It will take the place of the original Bahamian Masquerade street party and costume parade. Major said it will be an epic collage of costumes, colour and culture on parade.

The Family Islands of the country will also experience a taste of the Bahamas Carnival, with a Music Masters concert scheduled for Grand Bahama during April 2015. "We are procuring indigenous materials from the Family Islands for costume development," revealed Major.

Bahamas Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchombe said local and international advertising campaigns targeting the desired markets have commenced in order to attract the thousands of persons he wants to see on the streets for Bahamas Carnival.

According to the Tourism Minister, the plan is to create a cultural village that will result in a new day for Junkanoo, "a renaissance of sorts", he told the gathering.