Village Life

Get Ready for Goombay!

The annual arts and culture festival celebrating Coconut Grove’s Bahamian roots takes to the streets May 31 through June 2.

Goombay is back! Coconut Grove will come alive May 31 to June 2 with the sounds of whistles, drums, and trumpets as Junkanoo performers parade down Grand Avenue, and the aroma of Bahamian delicacies such as conch fritters, cracked conch and conch salad fill the air. All events are free.

Miami Goombay Festival has deep historic and cultural significance in Coconut Grove. Goombay, a time of homecoming for the Bahamian and Black diaspora of Coconut Grove, began in the late 1970s as a collaboration between black and white Coconut Grove residents eager to celebrate the neighborhood’s heritage and to help bridge racial divides.

Coconut Grove was once home to hundreds of families of Bahamian ancestry who lived in the bungalows, shotgun houses, apartment buildings and single-family homes within a vibrant community that extended throughout much of Grand Avenue and west into Coral Gables. Fewer families remain, but their history is strong and their roots are deep.

Though rising land values are changing neighborhood demographics, some families continue to live in homes that have been in their family for generations. Goombay is a time of reunion when friends and relatives who moved elsewhere in South Florida and across the U.S. return to the neighborhood to reminisce and reconnect.

vonCarol Kitchens-Williams, this year’s festival chair, who grew up in Coconut Grove, said despite the challenges facing the community, Goombay remains an important rally point for the wide diaspora of former West Grove families. “There’s been a change in the Grove, for sure, but this is a return to home that so many people look forward to,” said Kitchens-Williams, who now lives in Liberty City.

Fredericka Brown, one of the festival’s founders, recalls that for the first Goombay celebration — nearly 50 years ago — organizing committee member Herb Hiller arranged for straw merchants and performers to travel by cruise ship from the Bahamas to Miami. They were joined by local vendors, who traveled from all over South Florida to join the event. This year the Goombay Committee is working with the Bahamian Consulate of Miami to bring vendors and performers from the Bahamas. Local artists Trina and Larry Dogg will perform on stage.

The party begins on Friday May 31 at 6:00 p.m. with a Junkanoo Rush starting at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Douglas Road and continuing into Armbrister Park. Food trucks and live music also will help kick off the three-day celebration. Junkanoo rushes will continue on Saturday and Sunday throughout the day, giving festival goers several opportunities to take in the vibrant costumes and energetic rhythms of the performers.

Road closures start at 5:00 p.m. on Friday May 31, and at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Normal traffic patterns will resume at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday June 2. Free trolley service will run throughout the weekend between the Douglas Road Metrorail Station and Elizabeth Virrick Park.

Miami Goombay Festival

Three days of food, crafts, parades, and live music to celebrate Coconut Grove’s Bahamian Heritage

  • May 31, 2024 – June 2, 2024
  • Fri: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Sat: 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
  • Sun: 12:00 p.m.to 8:00 p.m.
  • Free!

Aarti Mehta-Kroll is a Florida International University doctoral candidate who is researching and documenting the history and cultural impact of Coconut Grove’s Goombay Festival. 

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