Aruban Carnival

Aruban Carnival
Most Caribbean countries hold their Carnivals in late July and early August to celebrate the abolition of slavery. The Aruban Carnival, however, takes place during the pre-Lenten season like European Carnivals.

The Carnival of Aruba in its modern form dates back to the 1920s. Back then, many local social clubs organized European-style costumed parties and balls during the holiday season. Following the opening of the Lago Oil refinery in 1924, Americans who worked there introduced their own seasonal festivities held around Halloween, Christmas and Fat Tuesday. One of such events was the Lago Marine Club fancy dress dance, where members dressed up as coons, bull fighters, caballeros and clowns.

Following the Allied victory in WWII, immigrants from Trinidad, Jamaica and British Guiana working at the Lago Oil refinery organized a parade in San Nicolas to celebrate the victory. What was supposed to be a one-time event became an annual Trinidad style Carnival that grew every year. Meanwhile, the celebrations organized by local social groups continued to grow as well.

In 1954, various social groups joined to organize a single grand Carnival parade. The first parade took place in Oranjestad, it featured floats, costumed characters and steel bands. Since then, the Aruban Carnival has grown to become one of the biggest and brightest Caribbean Carnivals.

The Carnival of Aruba is one of the longest events on the island, starting in January and ending on Ash Wednesday. Aruba’s impressive Carnival season is filled with exciting parades and parties, vibrant costumes, cultural diversity, and an amazing atmosphere.

The almost two month long Carnival season in Aruba features warm-up parties (including the famous J’ouvert street party), a range of elections and contests, and several parades. The elections and contests include the Carnival Queen election and coronation, the Prince and Pancho election, the Caiso and Soca Monarch (formerly known as the Calypso and Roadmarch Contest), and the Tumba Contest.

As far as parades are concerned, the Aruban Carnival has several of them. They are the Grand Carnival Parade Oranjestad, the Grand Carnival Parade San Nicolas, the Balloon Parade, the Children’s Parade, and the Lighting Parade. All parades feature colorfully decorated floats, vibrant costumes, Caribbean music, steel bands and brass bands, and more. The Carnival closes with the symbolic burning of King Momo that indicates the beginning of Lent.

Aruban Carnival

Photo: Marc Castillo




Related Articles