KEY WEST, Fla. — Visitors can experience sights, sounds and flavors recalling Key West’s Bahamian heritage at the family-friendly Goombay Festival scheduled Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19.
The exuberant street festival takes place in the island city’s Bahama Village neighborhood, settled in the early 1800s in part by Bahamians seeking a new island home.
For more than 30 years, the Goombay Festival has marked the start of Key West’s Fantasy Fest, a 10-day costuming and masking celebration whose 2019 revelry continues through Sunday, Oct. 27.
Goombay’s high-energy action is centered on Petronia Street, just off Key West’s famed Duval Street in the heart of Bahama Village. Events are scheduled from noon to midnight both days.
Each year Goombay attracts thousands of people ranging from national and international visitors to Florida Keys residents who have made attending the event a local tradition.
Attendees can savor the flavors of Caribbean and ethnic dishes offered by vendors, discover island-influenced arts and crafts, and dance in the streets to live music by popular Bahamian, Trinidadian, Floridian and local musicians and bands.
The main entertainment stage is to be located at the corner of Petronia and Fort streets, with entertainers offering nonstop tunes in genres ranging from gospel to reggae. The entertainment lineup includes Caribbean Explosion, the Bubba System featuring Coffee Butler, Clayton and Wilhelmina Lopez, Robert Albury, Kenny Miller, Miss Penny, the Bahama Village Social Club, Tara Lynne from Bimini and soca star Denise Belfon from Trinidad.
Other festival highlights include Friday night opening ceremonies, a carnival for kids and Saturday’s 6 p.m. Key West Junkanoo Parade featuring the Florida Junkanoo Gawds and the Key West Junkanoos.
In addition, a Bahamian-style j’ouvert — an adults-only music and dance party featuring water, paint and mud — is scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday. While most other Goombay events are free, admission to the j’ouvert is $15 per person and includes two libations.
Event information: facebook.com/keywestgoombay2018/ or Glenwood Lopez at 770-401-7932
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY