“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I’m definitely not talking about Christmas. I am talking about the season everyone on the island has been waiting for, Curaçao carnival! The Curaçao carnival is that one season of the year where the whole island becomes one big party and the celebration goes on for weeks. Full of colorful parades, creative costumes, and swinging tunes. Our carnival parades are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. What makes the Curaçao carnival special and unique is the balance between beauty and fun. The elaborate costumes don’t take away from a good dance party.
Tumba, Jump-Ins, and Jump-Ups
Tumba is the official music of the Curaçao carnival. It’s a mix of Latin music with some Caribbean instruments but explaining how it sounds is nearly impossible. You just have to experience it for yourself. During the opening of the carnival season, we hold a 4-day music festival to choose the Tumba King or Queen. His/her song becomes the anthem of that year’s carnival. There’s both an adult version and a kid version.
Leading up to the big parade, several parties are organized to celebrate this season. Sometimes you have the Jump-Ups, which is basically a parade open to everyone and doesn’t require costumes. Participants will often get a t-shirt that they can decorate and get creative with.
Jump-Ins are more common and organized in a closed venue. There are many small ones and some other big ones that have pretty much created their own legacy. During a Jump-In you’ll have Dj’s and live bands performing the Tumba and other types of dance music connected to the Curaçao carnival.
The exact date of the parades differs from year to year, but they take a total of 2 weeks. Want to know the latest dates? Check out this calendar. The official parades always start with the Children Parade and end with the Farawell Parade. These are the most important parades in order of when they happen:
Children’s Carnival Parade – on Sunday
The official parade for kids, where children’s group walk through the streets of Curaçao in colorful and creative costumes, dancing their hearts out.
Teen Carnival Parade – on Friday
The Teen Carnival Parade is a bit smaller but just as fun. The difference between this one and the rest of the parades is that since it’s for teen the costumes are much less elaborate. Teens, from high school and community college, will use their own imagination and resources at hand to create a beautiful creative costume.
Banda Abou Carnival Parade – on Saturday
This parade is specific for the other side of the island, Banda Abou
Grand Carnival Parade “Grand Marcha” – on Sunday
This is the main parade and the largest one. This parade is specifically for adults and is the one that attracts most visitors, both locally and internationally. Even the groups are a mix of local and international.