The World's Best Costume Parties
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Junkanoo, Nassau, Bahamas
What it is: The Bahamian version of Mardi Gras. Remember the chase scene in Thunderball, where James Bond beats his way through a crazy Caribbean parade? That was Junkanoo, specially re-created for the movie.
Party time: The wee hours of Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year's Day.
The getup: The real Junkanoo costumes take competing groups, or "families," months to create: enormous papier-mâché headdresses and carapaces painted in vibrant colors and painstakingly adorned with fringe, feathers, sequins, and shells. But visitors can join in just by throwing on some beads, painting a few stripes on their faces, or tweeting incessantly on a whistle.
Where it's at: Bay Street, downtown Nassau's main drag. Avoid staying at hotels along the route unless you can sleep through the all-night noise; book a room nearby at Paradise Island's One&Only Ocean Club. If you prefer a bit more hubbub, there's always the monster casino-resort of Atlantis.
What goes down: The Boxing Day parade doesn't start until after midnight—which, on "island time," can mean anywhere from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. When it does, groups march along Bay Street, performing choreographed dances and accompanying themselves with drums, whistles, horns, and cowbells. Spectators groove along from the sidelines, and prizes are awarded for the best drumming and dancing. If you can't stay up late enough, you can always set your alarm for the New Year's Day reprise.
One&Only Ocean Club
Tel: 888 528 7157
Tel: 888 528 7155