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Arts & Culture Last Updated: Feb 1, 2019 - 4:43:44 PM

Bahamas Junkanoo Art & Music Festival launches in February
By Felicity Darville
Feb 1, 2019 - 1:30:50 PM

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Gregory Clarke Saxons

A new opportunity to celebrate Junkanoo, appreciate it as an art form, and enjoy another festive cultural event will birth this February when the Bahamas Junkanoo Art & Music Festival is launched. Expect elaborate displays of visual art both created and inspired by Junkanoo artists when doors open on Saturday and Sunday, February 23 and 24 from 11am to 8pm under the theme: “We Live in Color”. The Festival will span the length of the middle and eastern gardens of the Botanical Gardens, located south of Arawak Cay in Chippingham, New Providence. The predominant feature will be that of Junkanoo sculptures that would have either performed in the most recent Junkanoo Parades on Bay Street in The Bahamas, or sculptures and still art created specifically for the festival.

Angelique McKay, festival artistic director and founder, invites the public to come and be part of “history in the making”, as she says this annual event will be the first art festival of its kind.

“We don’t really have art festivals in the country,” McKay said.

“We have Transforming Spaces Art Tour and various art shows, but not an art festival - so this will be a new thing for the country.”

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The Junkanoo sculptures that will be prominently featured will be the work of artists from throughout the Junkanoo community and artists will be compensated for their displays. The event promises to highlight ‘all things Junkanoo’ including: the past - walking through the origins, development and rich history and heritage of Junkanoo; the present - displaying the living art of Junkanoo with live demonstrations and exhibitions of this exquisite art; and the future – interactive, innovative ways for the Junkanoo participants and lovers of this tradition to give input on where they see Junkanoo in the future.

“This festival is going to be different, unlike any other in the country,” McKay promises.

“The Bahamas Junkanoo Art & Music Festival will allow Bahamians and visitors alike to get up close and personal with the costumes. Even those of us who are participants will appreciate it because we are usually by our own groups dealing with our own costumes. For spectators, they see the costumes from the stands but they don’t get to see them up close, observing the intricate details of the costumes. It will expose people to the internal workings, the internal fraternity of Junkanoo.”

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There will be live entertainment inclusive of local and international artists, live demonstrations throughout the day with several areas of artistry.  There will be performances of Junkanoo and Junkanoo-inspired forms of entertainment. The major A category Junkanoo groups will be empowered by being offered opportunities to partner with the festival and generate revenue for their respective groups. Festival-goers will be able to experience Junkanoo from the time that they enter the venue until they leave, be it by video presentations, hands on experiences, music or witnessing various demonstrations.

“It is designed to be like - if you were to go to a sculpture garden and you were allowed to view the creations and the artists are there to speak to the creative process involving the costumes,” McKay said.

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She explained that the festival was created out of the need to highlight and showcase the unique cultural expressions of Junkanoo. Organizers were keen because there is no other place on earth one can go to experience Junkanoo - its excitement, colour, and energy.  It is with this mindset that the festival’s mission was developed. It will be produced by A Solutions Agency, Cultural Experience Productions, and the Junkanoo Commandos.

There will be a dynamic variety of fine art that will be exhibited with up to 20 acclaimed artists featured throughout the festival, including works of photography, wood, glassworks, and natural fibers ceramics. In addition, there will be an art competition for school aged children whose work will be displayed at the festival and winners will be announced during the festival.


Live entertainment will include Junkanoo music, Rake N scrape, African music and music from the Diaspora, and DJ TMak will be featured.  There will also be a plethora of roving entertainers throughout the festival grounds. Culinary arts will also be an important feature of the live entertainment component as food is an important element in the overall cultural expression of Junkanoo and The Bahamas, and demonstrations from some of the country’s top chefs will be highlighted during the festival.

Admission fees will be $5 for adults and $2 for children and senior citizens. Follow on social media at Bahamas Junkanoo Art and Music Festival on Facebook and Instagram, or call (242) 807-1908 and email bahamasjunkanooartsfestival@gmail.com for more information.

Angelique McKay

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