There’s more than just one party heating up the Caribbean around New Year’s, so take a break from the winter weather. Check out these great islands and celebrations for some fun in the Caribbean sun.
Junkanoo—Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, Nassau, Bahamas
The origin of the Junkanoo is a mystery, though there are many legends surrounding this traditional festival that takes places three times a year—Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and summer time. The most popular legend is that the island slaves received three days off after Christmas, and they celebrated with the Junkadoo. It’s grown into a wonderful display of holiday fun and joy, and the parade is a spectacular display of fantastic costumes, dances, and pageantry. As many as 1,000 performers take part at once and vie for best music, best costume, and best overall group presentation with cash prizes up for grabs. The parade itself usually runs in the early morning hours—2 A.M. to 10 A.M.—and sets a beat for the holiday season. Though the grandest celebration consumes Nassau, Junkanoo is also celebrated on the Grand Bahama Island, Turks and Caicos, and the surrounding islands.
January Celebrations—Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is one of the most accessible destinations in the Caribbean since American travelers don’t need a passport or have to exchange currency, and the island celebrates throughout January, starting with Three Kings Day on the 6th when children receive free gifts at the Governor’s Mansion in La Fortaleza. The celebration continues in Ceiba on the first Sunday after Three Kings Day when children give their parents gifts. Old San Juan concludes the Christmas season on January 15th-18th with The Fiesta de San Sebastian. This festival offers parades, dances, and street vendors, and throughout all of January, the humpback whales gather near the coast for their annual natural migration—a gift for all.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival—February
Many carnivals are held in the Caribbean the week before Lent, and like Mardi Gras in America, meticulous planning is needed if you are to visit. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the destinations most in demand because of the limited flights to the island, and the best time to book is autumn! Don’t miss out on this exciting carnival that features re-enactments of the Canboulay Riots, the Carnival King and Queen ceremony, a kiddie carnival with youth bands performances, and more! If you want to become part of the excitement, consider playing with one of the island bands. The members are extremely welcoming, and you can become part of the celebration, not just visit as a spectator.
So don’t miss out on these great experiences. Take a break from Jack Frost’s icy touch and escape to the tropical bliss of the Caribbean.