Can you imagine a better way to greet the New Year than on a tropical beach in the Caribbean? Plan ahead to make this travel dream a reality next year.
Several Caribbean island destinations have unique, local traditions that will make the countdown to the New Year even more memorable.
Here are 7 places to ring in the New Year and create new, travel New Year’s traditions.
Onion Drop in Bermuda
You’ve heard of the Big Apple dropping in New York’s Times Square? Well, the equivalent in Bermuda is a big onion. It makes more sense when you realize that onions are one of the island’s biggest crops and culinary staples for hundreds of years.
So for New Year’s Eve, the countdown to the flipping calendars is celebrated by ‘dropping’ a giant, paper-mache onion, covered in twinkling lights, from the roof of the town hall in St. George, as party-goers revel in music and local food while they wait for the onion to drop, followed by fireworks.
Junkanoo in the Bahamas
Junkanoo is the multi-day Bahamian event where Mardi Gras meets holiday celebrations. A year’s worth of planning and costume-building go into Junkanoo parades, which are held twice: on December 26th and on January 1st throughout the Bahamas, with the most famous in Nassau.
Junkanoo has its origins in West Africa, and has been taking place in the Bahamas as far back as the 18th
century. Although costume materials get updated, goatskin drums and bells still mark time as Junkanoo celebrants make their way through the streets until the early dawn hours. You can even visit the Educulture Junkanoo Museum & Resource Centre
on your next visit to Nassau.
Junkanoo Jump Up in Turks & Caicos
When the clock strikes midnight in downtown Provo in Turks & Caicos, the streets flood with celebrants decked out in vivid costumes and masks. Junkanoo Jump Up is one of the oldest traditions in the twin-island country, originating with slaves in the 16th century as they celebrated their single day off during the holiday season. Today’s festivities continue the tradition of a parade across the island complete with music and dancing.
Meanwhile, on Grace Bay beach, one of the top-rated beaches in the Caribbean, vacationers who aren’t in their own costumes in the parade gather along the beach or in beach-front restaurants to watch NYE fireworks.
Crucian Jump Up in the U.S. Virgin Islands
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, a month of celebrations in St. Croix culminates early in the New Year. Take an extended holiday season break in the USVI to enjoy the full gamut of festivities, including horse races, quadrille dances, J’ouvert parties, parades, a festival village, the annual St. Croix boat parade with vessels decked out in Christmas lights, all to the beat of calypso and steelpan music.
Don’t miss fried “Johnny cakes” washed down by coquito, a type of coconut eggnog, as fireworks ring in the New Year.
Old Year’s Festivities in the BVI
While Crucian celebrations in the USVI next door spread the joy throughout an entire month, The British Virgin Islands have the reputation as the “New Year’s Eve Capital of the Caribbean.”
It’s a famous boating and yachting destination, and New Year’s Eve celebrations include famous ‘boat-hopping’ parties that also often include stops at beach bars around the USVI, especially on the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke, whose population of 300 swells to thousands for one night of fun. Certain restaurants and bars hold up to 2-day ‘Old Year’s’ celebrations that keep the party going with live music, dancing, boat-hopping, barbecue lobster, costumed guests fireworks and festivities til dawn of New Year’s Day.
Old Year’s Night in Barbados
Bajans also refer to New Year’s Eve as ‘Old Year’s Night’. While visitors will find many traditions similar to home, with an island twist on hotel and restaurant parties with dancing and dining, toasts and fireworks that include romantic beachfront venues.
Try Old Year’s Night like the locals; start the evening at church with Midnight Mass, and greet the New Year on a beach on the East Coast to watch the first sunrise of the year.
Carnival Kick-Off in St. Kitts
While Carnival celebrations in most places start up just before Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter, in St. Kitts, National Carnival gets underway on December 26th.
On Boxing Day, a traditional J’ouvert party transitions the island from Christmas festivities to Carnival, which is bookended by a parade on New Year’s Day, and includes street parties, cultural performances, music competitions and unique island traditions.
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