How to Celebrate Curaçao Carnival

Category: , | Published on: February 5, 2020 | By Omaily Lucas

“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 Parades

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.


Children’s Farewell Carnival Parade – on Monday

The Carnival season on Curaçao always ends with a farewell parade both for kids and adults. At the end of the parade, the “Momito” gets burned to welcome the Lent season.

Grand Farewell Carnival Parade – on Tuesday

Tuesday night, starting at 6 pm, the Grand Farewell Parade starts making it’s way to Brionplein. Because it’s a night parade, the costumes will all be lit up creating a beautiful light show. In the end, the “Momo” is burned culminating the festivities.


Tips to Enjoy the Carnival

  • The adult parade starts at the crossroad of Frankil D. Rooseveltweg and Jan Noorduynweg. The children’s parade is a bit shorter. Both take the main roads through Marchena, Habaai, and ends at the Brionplein.
  • All along the route, people have bought a particular space to gather with their family. While you are free to pick a spot to enjoy the parade, be mindful of not obstructing the view of others. The start of the route always has open spots. There are many companies that offer a paid spot that often includes food and beverage, parking, and toilets.
  • Be sure to get early as the streets will close.
  • Use a sunscreen, drink enough water, and wear something comfortable (costumes are welcome).
  • It’s not allowed to obstruct the parade and jump the barriers.
  • Drink responsibly.
  • Take lots of pictures. Participants are always welcome of images, so they will stop if possible.

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