Grand Bahama News

Festival Noel returns to kick off GB Christmas celebrations

Festival Noel, the premiere event that kicks off Grand Bahama’s Christmas season, is set to return on December 2 at the Rand Nature Centre with all the attractions attendees have come to love.

The annual event is the major fundraiser that assists with the maintenance of the nature reserves on the island under the remit of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT).

“We are happy to be bringing Festival Noel back,” said BNT Grand Bahama Parks Manager Ellsworth Weir.

“We had our last in-person festival right after Hurricane Dorian in 2019, and then in 2020, we tried hosting a virtual event; however, last year, we took a break, due to the pandemic.

“So, we are looking forward to welcoming attendees in a physical form,” he said.

Weir noted that there is an exciting lineup for the return, including tempting creations by the island’s top chef and bakers.

In its 27th year, the 2022 Festival Noel will be a celebration of life, food, friends, and family, said committee member Jinnel J. Marie.

“We are not only going to bring back a number of favorites like the Chef Noel competition, the Wheel of Joy and the guest artist, but we will be adding a new feature – the Cigar Bar and Lounge,” she added.

Paola Correa de Albury is the event’s featured artist.

“She will be showcasing some magnificent pieces,” Marie noted.

“Along with Paola, we are also going to have a lot of local artists and artisans that we want residents to come out and support.”

She added that all of the artworks and crafts are locally made and will be on sale.

“As for the Wheel of Joy, guests can purchase tickets on the night of the event. The grand prize is a three-night stay at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club and Resort. We will have a host of other prizes that will be on the Wheel of Joy all sponsored by local businesses.”

Festival Noel is an adult event and its new title sponsor this year is Jimmy’s Wines and Spirits.

“We want to thank all our sponsors – Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), Western Atlantic University School of Medicine (WAUSM), Ministry of Tourism, BWA, Aliv, Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), Kelly’s Fair Play, CG Atlantic, ATO Landscaping, Higgs and Johnson, and FOCOL.

“We know it has been a tough time for the past three years, so we are grateful that they have seen the benefit of Festival Noel for Grand Bahama,” Marie said.

Tickets for the event are priced at $50 for members and $55 for non-members, which includes the chefs’ tasty offerings and guests’ choice of beverage.

“Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits offers a diverse inventory of wines, both household favorites and new gems, that are sure to be loved by our customers. We were happy to get the invitation to showcase our wines at the BNT’s festival this year,” said Robbie Butler, purchasing manager.

“We love sampling wines in our retail store, but this festival platform gives us access to many more persons and the space to open more wines. We will be sampling several dozen wines from regions around the world.”

Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits General Manager Gary Sands said they believe in the BNT and want to support its efforts.

“We are proud to be a part of their Festival Noel as it’s returning after Dorian and COVID,” Sands said.

“Grand Bahama is our home, and we want to support our community where everything started for Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits.”

While BNT receives some funding from the government for maintenance of parks, Weir said additional funding is always needed.

“We have parks spread out across the islands, from Abaco in the north to Inagua in the south,” he said.

“Logistically, it is expensive to move around and take care of all these areas. So, at a few of the parks, we charge an entrance fee. We also have a membership base, where persons can join, pay an annual fee, becoming members and support the BNT in that way.

“So, that is why Festival Noel is especially important for us. Right now, we host this one major fundraiser for the year. Hopefully, next year, we can increase that to two. We are looking at holding an event in the spring.”

There are 32 national parks managed by the BNT with more than two million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected.

The Grand Bahama branch manages three of those parks, Weir noted.

“The Rand Nature Centre, which is the headquarters; Lucayan National Park, which is the second most visited park in the country; and Peterson’s Cay, which is the smallest park in the system,” Weir added.

BNT is a science-based organization dedicated to effectively managing national parks to conserve and protect Bahamian natural resources. The trust was created by an act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of The Bahamas.

The BNT is governed by a 29-member council made up of appointed representatives from some of the most prestigious conservation and scientific organizations in the world and from government.

Last week, BNT named Lakeshia Anderson-Rolle as its incoming executive director. Anderson-Rolle will replace Eric Carey, who retires on December 31, and will be the first female executive director of the organization.

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