7 minutes

The historical accounts are a bit fuzzy, but the way the story is commonly told, Caribbean slaves in the 18th century gained a day of freedom two times a year, on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Year’s Day. They made costumes and played music to celebrate, and over the centuries, that tradition evolved into what’s now know as the annual Junkanoo festival, an all-night parade through the streets that’s been compared to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Brazil.

On this episode of Far From Home, I visit Nassau in The Bahamas, which is home to the largest and most well-known of the celebrations. I speak with several participants to learn more about the festival and why they look forward to it each year around this time.

Visit my website to see some photos and videos my brother took when we attended the Junkanoo Festival a number of years ago.

The Bahamas are still recovering from the awful devastation of Hurricane Dorian a few months ago. If you’d like to make a donation to help, I suggest contacting Sol Relief or World Hope International.


On Far From Home, award-winning public radio journalist Scott Gurian documents fascinating stories from far-flung places like Iran, Chernobyl, and Mongolia. For more info, visit farfromhomepodcast.org

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Start listening to Far From Home: Season 1 Trailer
Start listening to Far From Home: Season 1 Trailer