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The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival

The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival is thought to be the largest festival in the country celebrating Black heritage. The event goes back to the 1970s and showcases the rich culture of Bahamians, which were the first immigrants of African descent to arrive in South Florida and settle in Miami's Coconut grove neighborhood during the 1890s. The festival grows every year has since then expanded to attract over 300,000 people a year from all over the country and pumps in over $20 million into the local economy.

The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival takes place every year in June. It is held in Coconut Grove and usually lasts for three days. It provides a vibrant expression of the culture of the Bahamas with many costumed people and colorful decorations adorning the neighborhood's main Grand Venue.

The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival is named after a traditional goatskin drum but also the customary music of the Bahamas which is a unique blend of Caribbean and Colonial European influences. It has three stages where visitors can enjoy and dance away to the vibrant music and entertainment. One of the most prominent musical events of the Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival is the performance of the 55-member Royal Bahamas Police Band which is a cultural icon and symbol in the Bahamas and the members are known for their outrageous costumes and rhythmic beats.

The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival

Another popular musical event is the performances by the assorted Junkanoo groups. Junkanoo is a very important cultural festival and street carnival in the Bahamas which takes place twice a year. During the period of slavery, slaves were only allowed three days off a year; Christmas day, Boxing Day on December 26 and New Year's Day. The slaves of the time celebrated their Junkanoo festival on January 1st.

Junkanoo is the most important remaining African cultural tradition in the Bahamas. The parade with Junkanoo groups at the Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival features many dancers, artists, acrobats, clowns, and other participants who are all wearing flamboyant costumes made of crepe paper, leather and cloth. The dancers dance to the music created by strong rhythms beaten on drums made of goatskin, but also cowbells, washboards, whistles, combs, horns and bugles.

The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival

The Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival is also known for the extravagant and very flamboyant costumes with sparkling headpieces that participants wear which are called Junkanoo costumes. These traditional outfits date back to the 1700s when slaves in the Bahamas used to hide from their masters in the bushes and used leaves, paints and various materials.

Another great part of the Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival are the hundreds of vendors and booths selling all kinds of Bahamian crafts, arts and souvenirs that are sure to make an impression. Visitors can also get a taste of authentic Bahamian cuisine at one of the many booths or during the historical luncheon. There is also a Gospel service and Gospel feast. There are also many activities for children at the children's corner where they can enjoy storytelling and making Junkanoo costumes.

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