Junkanoo is a celebratory parade with African roots which started in the Bahamas in the 17th century to preserve the African cultural traditions which were in danger of being lost in the displacement process of the slave trade. Spreading throughout the islands, Junkanoo is celebrated still, particularly in the Bahamas and Key West. Using traditional drums, cowbell, conch horn, and whistles, marchers attract a joyous crowd wherever they parade. Our most recent parades have been a part of Goombay, Fantasy Fest, and local weddings and business groups.
In the 1600's, when Africans were being abducted and sold into slavery, a great number were brought into the Bahamas by ship. A Tribal Chieftain, who was given the English name of John Canoe, was instrumental in preserving the African culture. He was well thought of, and managed to persuade the owners to allow their slaves two days off a year to practice their traditions; Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Year's Day. On these two days, celebratory processions were held, with brightly colored costumes and the African instruments of drums, horns, bells, and whistles. The Parades became associated with John Canoe, and the name changed to "Junkanoo" over the centuries. These traditions spread to the other island groups, each of which has its own special costume style. Junkanoo is still practiced today in many places, and Caribbean Queen Junkanoos is a composite of the best of the traditions.