A Visitor’s Guide To Bahamian Independence 2019

on July 1, 2016

As Bahamians, we’ll be the first to tell you that we love to celebrate! And, since we never miss an opportunity to showcase our National pride- the country’s Independence Day festivities provide the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate (most) proudly. You’ll likely observe these visual displays all over the island with Nassau plastered in the Bahamian flag colours of striking aquamarine, black, and gold. You’ll encounter pop-up shops and street vendors selling t-shirts, hairpins, and straw broaches; you’ll notice taxis, jitneys (public transport buses), and private vehicles adorned with colourful window flags, magnets, and bows.

This year will signify the country’s 46th year of independence!


History

INDEPENDENCE1.1_t670
Credit: The Tribune

Though first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, The Bahamas did not become sovereign until July 10th, 1973, when it gained complete independence from Great Britain, ending over 300 years of peaceful British rule.

At the time of independence, the Bahamian flag was designed using bold colour choices reflective of our picturesque landscapes (aquamarine for the ocean and gold for the rising sun) and solid black, which is representative of a unified people.

Today, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a small island nation parliamentary democracy, with open elections held every five years, and home to approximately 400,000 people, spread across 24 inhabited islands.


Ceremony

bahamas
Credit: Caribbean Journal

Although we’re an independent country, The Bahamas is still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations as a former British Colony. As such, there are still a number of visual British influences within modern day Bahamian island life. The Queen of England is still our head of state and is responsible for appointing a Bahamian Governor General to be the representative to the crown. This individual takes residence in Government House (the former location of British Governors) which sits atop Mount Fitzwilliam and overlooks Nassau’s harbour. Government House is painted Flamingo Pink (as all Government offices are) with beautifully manicured grounds and the property serves as a central hub for many Bahamian independence activities.

Activity: Bahamian Flag Raising
Location: Government House
Date: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Time: 9:00am

Activity: The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Changing of The Guard
Location: Government House
Date: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Time: 10:00am

*Click here for a full calendar of events and ceremonies around the 43rd Bahamian independence celebrations.


Celebration


Credit: The Tribune

Throughout the summer months, each of our Public Holidays are marked by thousands of locals flocking to beaches on the coasts of Nassau and Paradise Island by land or sea to swim, socialize, and imbibe. We invite you to join the party! Follow your invitation by the smell of fried chicken permeating the air, the vibrations of heavy bass, and the jovial clinking of beer bottles.

Following the festivities of a Bahamian holiday beach day, the evening usually offers equally colourful and culturally rich experiences. For instance, our Junkanoo festival parade, which exclusively takes place twice a year (Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) is available for sampling every Saturday in July as part of a special series organized by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

Activity: 43rd Independence Celebrations
Location: Clifford Park at Fort Charlotte
Date: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Time: 8:00 pm

Activity: Liturgical Dance Parade & Concert
Location: Arawak Cay to Fort Charlotte
Date: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Time: 4:00 pm

Activity: The People’s Love & Unity Junkanoo Rush
Location: Bay Street, Downtown Nassau
Date: Monday, July 11, 2016
Time: 12:00 am (midnight)

*Keep in mind, celebrations are not limited to New Providence. Our beautiful family islands celebrate in unique and colourful ways, which include sailing regattas, homecomings, and festivals.


Food

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Credit: Hello Rigby

Bahamian independence falls on a truly wonderful time of the year for seasonal fruits like mango, guinep, pineapple, and soursop. You’ll find many of these summer delights available for purchase on the side of the road for immediate enjoyment as a refreshing snack and also incorporated into cocktails served at local restaurants and bars.

Speaking of cocktails, you’ll likely encounter many signs for “sky juice” throughout the holiday weekend- a tasty blend of chilled gin, native coconut water, sweetened condensed milk and nutmeg- which is perfectly suited for quenching thirst and cooling the palate alongside spicer flavors served at lunch or dinner.

Of course, there will also be lots of hearty traditional Bahamian cuisine consumed at the many celebrations, beach gatherings and house parties taking place. Typical favourites like fried snapper, conch fritters, baked Bahamian macaroni and cheese, cracked conch, peas n’ rice, and guava duff.


*Original post: June 2015. Content updated: July 2016.

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