Bahamas Calendar of Events
This Mardi Gras-style festival begins 2 or 3 hours before dawn on New Year’s Day. Throngs of cavorting, costumed figures prance through Nassau, Freeport/Lucaya, and the Out Islands. Jubilant men, women, and children wear elaborate headdresses and festive apparel as they celebrate their African heritage with music and dance. Mini-Junkanoos, in which visitors can participate, are regular events.
New Year’s Day Sailing Regatta, Nassau and Paradise Island.
Three dozen or more sailing sloops, ranging from 5 to 8.5m (16-28 ft.), converge off Montagu Bay in a battle for bragging rights organized by The Bahamas Boat Owners Association.
Annual Bahamas Wahoo Championships, Berry Islands.
Anglers from all over America take up the tough challenge to bait one of the fastest fish in the ocean, reaching speeds up to 70 mph.
The Mid-Winter Wahoo, Bimini
The Bimini Big Game Resort & Marina draws Hemingway look-alikes and other anglers to this winter event that is heavily attended by Floridians. For more information, call tel. 800/737-1007 or contact the tournament director, Leonard Stuart, at the Bimini Tourist Office at tel. 242/347-3539. Early February.
Farmer’s Cay Festival
This festival is a rendezvous for yachtsmen cruising the Exuma Islands and a homecoming for the people of Farmer’s Cay, Exuma. Boat excursions will depart Nassau at Potter’s Cay for the festival at 8pm on Friday, then return to Nassau at 8pm on Saturday from the Farmer’s Cay Dock. For information contact Terry Bain in Little Farmer’s Cay, Exuma, at tel. 242/355-4006, or the Exuma Tourist Office at tel. 242/336-2430. First Friday and Saturday in February.
Bacardi Billfish Tournament, Freeport
A prestigious weeklong tournament attracting the who’s who of deep-sea fishing. Headquarters is the Port Lucaya Resort & Yacht Club. For more information, call tel. 800/582-2921 or 242/373-9090. Mid-March.
Bahamas Family Island Regatta, George Town, the Exumas
Featuring Bahamian craft sloops, these celebrated boat races are held in Elizabeth Harbour. There’s also a variety of onshore activities including basketball, a skipper’s party, and a Junkanoo parade. Call tel. 242/336-2430 for exact dates and information. Usually third week of April.
Bahamas Billfish Championship
This annual event is divided into four competitions, taking place at four different venues and times, spanning April to June. Anglers can fish any and all of the tournaments taking place at Marsh Harbour (third week of Apr), Harbour Island (first week of May), Spanish Cay (mid-May), and Treasure Cay (first week to second week of June). Since dates vary, contact the Bahamas Billfish Championship at Two Oakland Blvd., Suite 195, Hollywood, FL 33020 (tel. 888/303-2242 or 954/920-5577; . April to June.
Bahamas White Marlin Open, the Abacos
This is a rendezvous off Abaco drawing anglers seeking an action-packed billfish tournament. The headquarters is the Abaco Beach Resort & Marina. For more information, call tel. 954/920-5577 or 242/367-2158. Dates vary.
Long Island Regatta, Salt Pond, Long Island
This even sees some 40 to 50 sailing sloops from throughout The Bahamas compete in three classes for trophies and cash prizes. Onshore, dancing to indigenous “rake ‘n’ scrape” music, sporting events, and local food specialties for sale make for a carnival-like atmosphere. For more information, call tel. 242/394-1535. Late May.
Eleuthera Pineapple Festival, Gregory Town, Eleuthera
This celebration devoted to the island’s succulent pineapple features a Junkanoo parade, craft displays, dancing, a pineapple recipe contest, tours of pineapple farms, and a “pineathalon” — a .5km (1/4-mile) swim, 5.5km (3 1/2-mile) run, and 6.5km (4-mile) bike ride. For more information, call tel. 242/332-2142. First week of June.
Annual Racing Time in Abaco, Marsh Harbour
This weeklong regatta features a series of five sailboat races in the Sea of Abaco. Onshore festivities include nightly entertainment, cocktail parties, beach picnics, cultural activities, and a grand finale party. For registration forms and information, contact Abaco Tourist office at tel. 242/367-3067. Early July.
Independence celebrations are marked throughout the islands by festivities, parades, and fireworks. It all culminates on Independence Day. July 10.
Bahamas Summer Boating Fling/Flotilla
Boating enthusiasts and yachters make the 5-day crossing from Florida to The Bahamas (Port Lucaya’s marina on Grand Bahama Island) in a flotilla of boats guided by a lead boat. All “flings” depart from the Radisson Bahia Mar Resort & Yacht Center in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, contact the Bahamas Tourism Center in Florida at tel. 954/236-9292. End of July to beginning of August.
The first Monday in August commemorates the emancipation of slaves in 1834. A highlight of this holiday is an early-morning “Junkanoo Rushout” starting at 4am in Fox Hill Village in Nassau, followed by an afternoon of “cook-outs,” cultural events such as climbing a greased pole and the plaiting of the Maypole. First Monday in August.
Cat Island Regatta, Southern Bahamas
Sleepy Cat Island comes alive in the weekend of festive events, including sloop races, live “rake ‘n’ scrape” bands, quadrille dancing, old-fashioned contests and games, and local cuisine. Contact the Regatta Desk at tel. 242/502-0600 in Nassau. Early August.
All Abaco Sailing Regatta
Local sailing sloops rendezvous at Treasure Cay Harbour for a series of championship races and onshore festivities. Contact the Regatta Desk in Nassau at tel. 242/502-0600 or in Abaco at tel. 242/367-3067. Late September.
The New World landing of Christopher Columbus, traditionally said to be the island of San Salvador, is celebrated throughout The Bahamas. Naturally, San Salvador has a parade every year on October 12.
North Eleuthera Sailing Regatta
Native sailing sloops take to the waters of North Eleuthera, Harbour Island, and Spanish Wells in a weekend of championship races. For information contact the Eleuthera Tourist Office at tel. 242/332-2142. Mid-October.
Great Bahamas Seafood and Heritage Festival, Heritage Village, Arawak Cay
This October festival is a combination of the Great Seafood Festival and Heritage festival. A cultural affair, it showcases authentic Bahamian cuisine, traditional music, and storytelling. For more information, exact time, and schedule of events, contact the Ministry of Tourism at tel. 242/302-2072.
Guy Fawkes Day
The best celebrations are in Nassau. Nighttime parades through the streets are held on many of the islands, culminating in the hanging and burning of Guy Fawkes, an effigy of the British malefactor who was involved in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in London. It usually takes place around November 5, but check with island tourist offices.
Bimini Big Game Fishing Club All Wahoo Tournament
Anglers take up the tough challenge of baiting one of the fastest fishes in the ocean. Headquarters is the Bimini Sands Resort & Marina. For information, contact tel. 242/373-3500 or 242/347-3407; Mid-November.
Annual One Bahamas Music & Heritage Festival
This 3-day celebration is staged at both Nassau and Paradise Island to celebrate national unity. Highlights include concerts featuring top Bahamian performing artists. Events include “fun walks” on the island and other activities. For more information, contact the Nassau/Paradise Island Office at the Ministry of Tourism, tel. 242/356-5216, ext. 4100. Last week of November.
Junkanoo Boxing Day
High-energy Junkanoo parades and celebrations are held throughout the islands on December 26. Many of these activities are repeated on New Year’s Day. December 26.