Aruba’s carnival is an ongoing celebration. Throughout the year, locals are either promoting this event, brainstorming for the upcoming parades, creating new group themes and costume designs, composing winning carnival jams, building floats, electing queens . . . living up to one of the island’s most treasured traditions. It's Carnaval - that’s how the locals pronounce this exuberant annual festivity.
Aruba's Grand Carnival Parade 2012 — Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
As soon as New Year’s fireworks have ceased, the carnival season comes to life. It's literally and symbolically lit by the annual Torch Parade, where the whole island comes together at night to set the streets of Oranjestad on fire! Not actual fire, mind you. The burning torches have long been replaced by millions of bright, colorful lights on hats and costumes of singing, drumming and dancing paraders.
After this official inauguration, the crowded Carnival schedule continues with warm-up activities like Jump Ins, Queen Elections, Calypso, Roadmarch and Tumba contests, festivals, parties and parades throughout the island. Popular, not-to-be-missed events include the Lighting Parade in Oranjestad and the Jouvert Morning & Pajama Party in San Nicolas, among many other favorites like the Hebbe Hebbe Heineken Festival in front of the main post office downtown.
This year, Aruba is proud as ever to be celebrating 60 years of its carnival. And whether visitors are aware of the magnitude of this happy event or not, being on the island during these festivities is like a free upgrade to a royal class vacation. Own it! Join in the fun and fabulosity of Aruba’s carnival. Jump into the schedule, get jamming and wining and warming up to the big event: Aruba’s 60th Grand Carnival Parade.
Don’t forget to mark two days in your agenda for this celebration, because Aruba’s grandest carnival parade has always been celebrated in both cities: Oranjestad and San Nicolas. On Saturday morning, March 2, 2014, the streets of San Nicolas will be carnivalling from 11 in the morning till the sun goes down. And on Sunday, March 3, the festivities will continue in Oranjestad starting at 10:00 a.m. and lasting for as long as it takes - depending on the length and flow of the parade, and your after-party plans.
It’s not until the Burning of King Momo takes place that Aruba’s carnival season comes to an end. King Momo represents our earthly desires. By setting this human-sized, decorated doll on fire on Ash Wednesday, the fasting and abstinence of the Catholic Lent can begin. Visitors who are still on the island on Wednesday, March 3, and who are interested in attending this old ritual together with the locals are always welcome to join in.
For a complete overview of the festivities, check out the Aruba Carnival schedule for 2014 online.