Every year, millions of people decide to spend Christmas and New Years in another state, country, or continent. For those wishing to escape to the sunny south, but still be relatively close to home, spending the holidays in the Bahamas is a great alternative. Out of the seven hundred islands that make up the Bahamas, Elbow Cay, a small island in the Abacos, is a wonderful place to celebrate the season with friends and family.
Christmas and New Years are one of a kind on Elbow Cay. The first thing everyone notices during the holidays is the Hope Town Lighthouse, located in the North-central part of the island. The lighthouse has thousands of lights strung from its observation deck to its base. Every night, the lighthouse is lit up, while its lights sparkle in the night. Many houses and restaurants also prepare for the holidays with lights and decorations – even though it looks a bit strange without any winter white snow.
The holiday season also brings many events such as the annual Christmas musical at the local church. The local children rehearse for months on the play, as well as the many songs they must learn. Tickets are free, although they are limited, and donations are encouraged. Donations are then given to an orphanage in Nassau. There is also a golf cart parade that tours the town. Since most people on the island drive golf carts instead of cars, they decorate them with ribbons, lights, shells, and anything else they can think of. Similar to the golf cart parade, a parade of boats cruise the waters around the islands, and show off their lights and decorations for everyone to see.
New years, however, is another story. All the islands in Abaco have their own version of a fireworks display, but Elbow Cay has two! A few nights before New Years Eve, a local company puts on a spectacular fireworks display on the water, nestled between two islands. The best place to view the show is on the most Southern beach on the island. At low tide you can even sit on the islands of sand that form in the shallow waters. On New Years Eve, all the local bars are open, and have special dinners and events. This is the only night of the year that a cover charge is in effect. This is the place to be until midnight, because once the clock strikes twelve, everyone floods the street to watch the second fireworks display. The fireworks can be seen from anywhere in town, although a favorite place to view them is from the deck of any boat in the Harbour. Once the display is complete, Junkanoo begins. Junkanoo, similar to Carnival, is a cultural event in the Bahamas that consist of many native costumed dancers parading down the street while dancing to the drums and whistles of the band. Everyone joins in and dances through the streets while following the parade through town.
After years of traditional holidays at home, spending Christmas in the Bahamas is something that everyone should experience. Celebrating the season on the islands of the Caribbean is priceless.