The Carnival Part One: An Overview

The carnival,  pt. 1: An overview

It goes by many names: “bacchanal”, “mas”. And lately here in The Bahamas it has been called: “the brainchild of the prime minister”, “an economic stimulus”, “a copycat event”, “a threat to Junkanoo”. Carnival is its formal title and it will be here on May 2, 2015, whether we like it or not.

The idea was sprouted by Prime Minister Perry Christie in October 2013, and it has quickly snowballed into an issue of debate between those in favor and opposed. Those with no opinion, who appear to be the majority of Bahamians, are often surprised to hear that the country will be hosting a carnival.

Predicted by event organizers to attract approximately 10,000 people and to spur a seasonally sleepy economy into a time of prosperity for Bahamians across the country, it seems surprising that so many know little or nothing at all about the festival.

The who and when

The Bahamas Carnival is managed by the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) – a body appointed by the government. Members include hoteliers, financial experts and Junkanoo enthusiasts. They are led by former banker Paul Major, the BNFC’s chairman.

Planned to be a weeklong festival, the carnival’s ice will be broken in the preceding weeks with a series of events and activities. Historically a slow period for the hospitality industry, it is hoped the carnival and the events leading up to it will provide a hefty boost to the economy in early May. Major thinks timing is everything.

“All the tourists, all the snowbirds go back home April. Early, mid-April they fly back north. Atlantis [is] empty. Everybody [is] empty. The unions [are] kicking up because people are on short days and short weeks, so that’s why we picked the post-Lenten season because hotels are in low season,” he said.