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It’s the highlight of the Caribbean Carnival season. It’s one of the most anticipated events in Aruba. It’s something you really don’t want to miss.
This vibrant festival, steeped in Caribbean history, brings together locals and visitors to celebrate Aruban culture and traditions. With its lively parades, colorful costumes, and infectious music, these festivities truly are a feast for your senses. Let’s prepare you for this unforgettable experience by diving into Caribbean Carnival history in general - and Aruba’s Carnival in particular. Are you ready?
Carnival’s origins can be traced back to ancient Roman pagan festivals, such as Saturnalia and Lupercalia, which were marked by feasting, drinking, and wild revelry. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church incorporated these festivities into its calendar, as a way to prepare for the somber Lenten season. Over time, Carnival evolved into a major cultural event, characterized by colorful parades, elaborate costumes, lively music, and dancing. The Caribbean Carnival, in particular, has a distinct style that incorporates African and indigenous influences, and is celebrated throughout the region with great enthusiasm and energy.
The roots of Aruba’s Carnival date back to 1954, when the first small street festivals were organized. It wasn't until 1955 that various clubs and districts came together for the first public Carnival on the island. This also featured the first official Carnival queen.
The debut of steel and brass bands soon followed, and by 1957, the traditional Grand Parades had become a mainstay of the festival.
In 1966, Stichting Arubaanse Carnaval was founded, marking the official start of the Carnival season every year on November 11th at 11:11 a.m. Each year, the Carnival season officially begins at this precise moment. Ever since 1981, Tivoli has produced the Lighting Parade, a twinkling nighttime extravaganza.
Besides the Lighting Parade, thousands of participants and spectators enjoy Children’s Parades, the Jouvert Morning Pajama Party, the Grand Carnival Parade in San Nicolas, and the exciting finale - the Grand Carnival Parade in Oranjestad. The midnight burning of King Momo, a life-size effigy, signals the end of the Aruba Carnival season on Shrove Tuesday, the day just before Ash Wednesday. This tradition symbolizes the burning of the Spirit of Carnival, who will rise again when the next season - and a whole new round of partying - begins.
If you want to experience a colorful celebration unlike any other, visit the island during Aruba Carnival season and experience the bright spirits of our local community first hand.
So, how long does Carnival last? The season officially starts in November, but the best Carnival dates are in January and February (with most events, celebrations and parades). We’ll promise it’s one of the best things to do in Aruba. Once you see the creative costumes and hear the catchy music, you will instantly understand why this is the happiest island on earth.
If you want to experience a colorful celebration unlike any other, visit the island during Aruba Carnival season. During Carnival in Aruba, you will experience the bright spirits of our local community first hand. Once you see the creative costumes and hear the catchy music, you will instantly understand why Aruba is the happiest island on earth.
We’re just getting started with the amazing effects Aruba has to offer. Dig into your trip details below to unlock a Caribbean experience that will fill you with sunshine and send you home with a happy afterglow that never fades.