Thursday, 28 December 2017

© "The Faces of Junkanoo" ~ 2017

Our year of 2017 draws to a close in the Bahamas with the most stunning 10 days of clear blue, calm brochure weather! A nation truely blessed with a remarkable climate compared to the massive snow and ice film seen daily on American TV from our friends in the northern United States. While we sit under quiet palm trees gazing out at the most beautiful of turquoise oceans our neighbours to the north are sliding on icy highways or stuck in a frozen line of vehicles caught in some blizzard!

With a controversial decision our annual Junkanoo Parade (the unique & incomparable local Bahamian version of Carnival) was delayed 24 hours due to threatening rain that night? An evening which remained calm, clear & warm! Bahamians still gathered in their thousands to line the two main thoroughfares of Nassau at an earlier time of 6pm for the start of the long evening of festivity. We made way to the 'staging area' where open bonfires are used to heat and tighten the goatskin drums used in the various groups competing this evening. (*NB: if you see a photo you admire, by all means click on to see an enlarged version to be dragged on to your desktop to keep!)

The side streets begin to fill with parade participants, costumes laid carefully on the walkways to be worn as the various groups assemble for their long, slow march down Shirley Street and on to the main thoroughfare of Bay Street. It is time to 'refuel' with some welcome warm food found in the stalls around the staging area.

Junkanoo artists have evolved an incredible distance from my early boyhood parades of the 1960s. Now our artists don makeup to compliment the really extravagant and incredibly sophisticated costumes. This year the standard of excellence is 'off the charts' and our congratulations to all the Junkanoo participants!

Junkanoo groups in these last few years have grown in size and talent. There is still the ever present section of cowbells creating that intoxicating rhythm unmatched by any other carnival in the world. 

The groups more often are led with a group of young ladies who dance with choreography and costume to be admired.


Huge floats that have taken months to create are wheeled or carried only by hand onto the street, some taking lead and others bringing up the rear of each competing group. Floats started out years ago fairly small in size. Now they are monstrous and incredibly complex barely fitting the narrow streets of Nassau.

As the huge groups form a line in preparation of their march where recent additions of a brass-section rise up a harmony from the base players, the crowds going wild knowing this is the signal for the group to move forward, joined by various horn instruments adding to the rhythm of throbbing goatskin drums!

To compliment the intoxicating sound of the hundreds of participants in each group comes the blast of whistles and horns. The streets of New Providence all move to seething mass of costumes, colour, sound and cheering audiences.

So begins the 2017 Boxing Day Junkanoo where 'The Saxons', 'One Family', 'Valley Boys', 'Roots', 'Genesis', 'Colours' and many more vie for the valued prizes they are annually judged for. Melissa & I have taken a young couple visiting the Bahamas for the first time on their honeymoon to witness a spectacle they could never have imagined. Trevor & Lilly from Oregon irresistibly move with the rhythm in minutes of being joined at super-close proximity by the mass of sound passing them on the street, while we capture on film for the enjoyment of all our friends here and around the world to see an iconic collection of Bahamian talent!

Our guests become part of and experience the Bahamian hospitality and super friendliness within minutes!

More friends came to visit with us in 2019 sharing the New Years Eve Junkanoo in downtown Nassau! Also first time visitors to our islands they soon loved the rhythm of cowbells, whistles, horns accompanied by brass sections and base goat-skin drums had our friends moving irresistibly with the beat of a thousand Bahamians in the groups! The photography was wonderful from our position so close to the action!

A familiar face passes Melissa and she captures our Honourable Prime Minister as he passes always enjoying 'rushing with the crowd' down Bay Street!

For over six hours we try to capture as many of the familiar faces of Junkanoo as possible - here are just some of the wonderful faces we were privileged to photograph - a few days from now all these wonderful Bahamians gather once again in the early hours of 2018 New Years morning with all new costumes, new floats and different music that will, as it has done for eons in time, capture our souls!

See you there!

New Years Day Junkanoo will be posted as a new Blog Page for you to follow - enjoy & Happy New Year!



  1. Fantastic Images!! Thank you so much for sharing your talents.

  2. Fabulous Shots Paul! I felt the Rhythm!

  3. Love the candid shots most! You truly captured it! May I share with friends?