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  • Last Updated: 06th October 2016

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Bahamas lifestyle & culture

The Bahamas is known for its friendly people and warm culture, which features a unique blend of African traditions and British colonial influences with a laid-back Caribbean island lifestyle.

Music and festivals

Almost any time of the year, an island somewhere in the Bahamas will be hosting a colourful festival, a regatta or a celebration. Key features of most celebrations are music and dance.

The Bahamas has claim to three types of music – Goombay, Rake and Scrape, and Junkanoo. Goombay is first a type of drum, but the term also refers generally to the percussion music made famous by local musician Alphonso Higgs, also known as "Blind Blake". Tourists arriving at Nassau International Airport were once treated to his performances upon entering the country.

Rake and Scrape is a unique type of musical performance that involves bending a saw and scraping it with a small object such as a screwdriver.

Junkanoo, which is associated with the colourful Junkanoo parades held on December 26th and January 1st, features cowbells, whistles and goatskin drums, often accompanied by brass instruments. During the Junkanoo parades, throngs of people in vibrant costumes take to the streets, with dance, music and song in celebration of the people’s African roots and freedom from slavery.

Bahamian food and drink

Popular drinks
The Bahamas are known for their rum-based beverages, and it would be a pity not to sample the Goombay Smash, with coconut, rum, apricot brandy and pineapple juice, and the colourful Bahama Mama, with rum, grenadine and coconut, orange and pineapple juice.

For those not keen on rum, there are plenty of other options too. For example, ask for Sky Juice, which is a refreshing mix of gin, coconut water and sweet milk. Beer drinkers can sample local brews such as Sands, Kalik and the Abacos, and non-alcoholic beverages include the Switcha, Bahamian lemonade and tropical fruit juices.

Bahamian food
The Bahamas are known for excellent fish and seafood, and conch is a favourite delicacy across the islands. If you can, try it in a salad with lime, cilantro, tomatoes and onion. Thanks to its balmy climate, Bahamian cuisine also includes plenty of fresh tropical fruit, from pineapple to guavas (used to make a dessert called duff), papayas and mangoes. Other staples in islanders’ diets are chilies, rice, potato, peas and pork.

Entertainment

If you’re on one of the quieter islands in the Bahamas, your main nightlife may be sipping drinks on a beach or watching the stars. If you’re anywhere near larger cities or tourist hotspots, however, you’ll be spoilt for choice, with a wide range of restaurants, bars, live music venues and casinos – and opportunities to party through the night.

Club Waterloo on East Bay Street has been Nassau's most popular nightclub for nearly three decades, attracting both tourists and locals to its awesome dance floors and multiple bars, and even featuring its own swimming pool.

Grand Bahama Island's Count Basie Square in Port Lucaya Market is where you’ll find live music and good food, along with great views of the tropical evening skies. Fire and limbo dancing are popular, and it won't be easy to refuse an invitation to karaoke.

Visit the enormous Wyndham Nassau Resort and Casino on Cable Beach in New Providence, which features an 800-seat theatre with world-class stage entertainment.

Local and international artists also play to eager audiences at the Atlantis Live stage on Paradise Island, as well as at Arawak Cay in Nassau.