Now is the time to begin channeling your inner scallywag in preparation for the Annual Festival RumBahamas taking place the weekend of February 24-26th, 2017. Spectacularly set against the historical backdrop of Fort Charlotte – once the fortress used to help defend Nassau Harbour from unwanted invaders- this highly anticipated weekend festival attracts discerning (and thirsty) aficionados from far and wide across the region. The distilled frenzy at ‘Rum Fest’ spotlights all aspects of the Caribbean’s favourite brand of booze and will surely transport you back to The Bahamas’ Golden Age of Piracy in the process. Fun at this event isn’t limited to drinkers however- teetotalers and even families will also find this Nassau festival to be worth spending a day at- tasty eats, artisan markets, interactive craft expos, excellent cultural programming, and live entertainment combine to offer a multi-dimensional experience for all attendees.
It goes without saying that The Bahamas and rum need no introducing- the (delicious) Bahama Mama cocktail is likely the first association most make with our islands. Indeed, after spending only a few days in these parts, it soon becomes clear that we Bahamians have a penchant for drinking rum- especially the sweet, dark Anejo varieties popular in a wide repertoire of local cocktails. Rum Dum, Yellowbird, or Goombay Smash anyone? What’s more, one of The Bahamas’ most celebrated spirits is the Nassau Royale Liqueur, which was first distilled in Nassau by the Bacardi family in 1960 and continued to be until the plant’s closure in 2009. More recently, Nassau visitors might have encountered the John Watling’s Distillery, a 2013 restored compound located on the expansive Buena Vista Estate and home to three varieties of Bahamian rum, or even ventured to the pink sands of Harbour Island to sample the boutique portfolio of AfroHead Rums.
‘Rum Fest’ has already made an indelible mark on the annual Nassau activities calendar and has proven to be one of the most entertaining events for historians, culturalists, drinkers, and foodies alike! As a guide to everything you need to know in advance in order to enjoy and explore this colourful festival, we invite you to read on and take notes…
The Festival RumBahamas Experience
Credit: Festival RumBahamas
Set within the grounds of historically significant Fort Charlotte overlooking Nassau’s Harbour, RumBahamas invites its festival-goers to quench their thirst for premium and exotic rums, satiate a hunger for creative comfort foods and enjoy the rhythms of the vibrant Caribbean. Adventure-seeking guests of Festival RumBahamas can expect heavy-handed doses of:
- Rum! Competitions, Tastings, & Educational Demonstrations
- Traditional Bahamian Foods & Flavourful Caribbean Cuisine
- Musical Performances & Lively Entertainment
- Local Crafts, Fine Art & Authentic Products For Sale
A Celebration of International Rums (and Other Libations)
Credit: Festival RumBahamas
Intent on improving and scaling its boozy portfolio each year, RumBahamas plans to feature even more unique rums in 2016 from all over the region. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or social sipper, RumBahamas has an offering for every distinct palate including libations outside of the rum realm such as: local craft beers, wines, and spirits. Of course, rum specific experiences are understandably at the heart of the event and showcase:
Competitions- Vying for best-in-show, every rum on offer at the festival enters The International Rum Competition, which are ranked by an esteemed panel of judges responsible for awarding a number of distinctions such as “Best Boutique Rums of The Bahamas and The Caribbean”
Tastings- More than 30 intriguing, rich, oaky, and flavourful regional rums available for sampling and mixing in creative cocktails throughout the 3-day festival experience
Vendors- Diverse rum labels from Nassau’s John Watling’s Distillery, and other local restaurants, bars, liquor stores and distributors, inviting patrons to fall in love with the perfect rum and take it home to treasure
Demonstrations- Delve into the fascinating process of rum distillation and learn from industry professionals on how sugarcane and molasses contribute to rum’s mysterious properties
Local Tip- Play the part of a “tru-tru Bahamian”, and bring/buy a signature RumBahamas Tervis Tumbler to keep your beverages ice cold all day long!
Must Eat Rum-Infused Festival Food
Credit: The Rum Collective
Setting RumBahamas apart from other annual food and culture festivals in Nassau (you guessed it!) is its inspiring use of rum as an ingredient to enhance the most unassuming of dishes. The event’s organizing committee, complete with gourmet caterers and planners from the highly respected Events By Alexandra, guarantees that the menu will be unique to RumBahamas 2017 and will feature several dishes not served anywhere else on the island. Foodies attending the festival can expect to enjoy:
- Tasting creative local fare, including Bahamian favourites like conch salad and guava duff
- Savoring Caribbean soul foods from representing islands: Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Cuba, etc.
- Observing chefs as they battle to win the coveted title: “Most Creative Use of Rum in Food”
- Trying locally sourced rum-infused jams, jellies, sauces, barbecue glazes, and more!
Expect Live Entertainment, Music, and Dance
Credit: Rum Shop Ryan
Whether you’re a Nassau native or are visiting our islands as a guest, expect to be blown away by the cultural explosion that is Festival RumBahamas. Just one beat of the Goombay drum will have you whining, shaking, and shimmying like you’ve never danced before! Festival music experiences include:
- Live Bahamian Music from Legends and Contemporary Artists
- Traditional Bahamian Sounds of Junkanoo & Rake n’ Scrape
- Caribbean Calypso Music & Steel Pan Drums
- Bands From The Haitian, Jamaican, and Cuban Communities
- Fire Dancing, Stilt Walking, Acrobatics & Limbo
- Professional Storytelling & Theatrical Performances
Cultural Expressions of Bahamian Art and Authentic Products
Credit: Festival RumBahamas
Discover the hidden gems of the archipelago by visiting the MicroBusiness Pavilion where you’ll find booths upon booths of fine art, handicrafts, and authentic Bahamian products. Support this collective of creative entrepreneurs by purchasing “Made in The Bahamas” souvenirs, including:
- Native Teas, Spices, Hot Sauces, Jams & Jellies
- Island Sweet Bread & Baked Desserts
- Natural Essential Oils, Soaps & Candles
- Wood Carvings, Paintings & Photography
- Unique Rum Bottle & Shell Jewelry
- Straw Work & Plait Designs
- Bahamian Music CDs
Festival RumBahamas Event Details
Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau, Bahamas
Dates & Times:
Friday, February 24: 11:00am-11:00pm
Saturday, February 25: 11:00am-11:00pm
Sunday, February 26: 11:00am-11:00pm
$25/day at the entrance gate
$60/three days (advanced purchase only)
Getting There: Fort Charlotte is within walking distance of Nassau’s Cruise Port and downtown area (about 1 mile away). You can also hop in a taxi if coming from Paradise Island (about $12-$15) or jump on the #10 bus if coming from Cable Beach for $1.50 a ride.
Parking Options: Ample parking near Fort Charlotte’s entrance on M. Bethel Way at no charge. Additional free parking located down the hill at Clifford Park (across from Arawak Cay/Fish Fry off of West Bay Street).
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