Aruba Carnival is the biggest celebration of the year and is an extravagant month-long festival consisting of lively “jump-ups” (street parties), spectacular parades and creative contests. A mix of reggae, Calypso, Soca and steel pan music can be heard around the island.
Flamboyant costumes are everywhere, from the Queen elections to the Grand Parade, which winds it ways down city streets for thousands of vacationing spectators.
Street parties are held in various districts throughout the month, allowing everyone an opportunity to participate and dance to the season’s most popular brass band, and steel band tunes. Carnival in Aruba starts in February and officially comes to end on the evening before the start of the Christian celebration of Lent, with the symbolic burning of “King Momo” and the Old Mask Parade
Resorts, restaurants, and bars also host their own Carnival celebrations across the island.
Carnival in Aruba became popular in the 20th century, but the festival itself stated way before then. Here is a little history on the celebration of Carnival.
This year, carnival runs from January 6, 2018 - February 11, 2018. And you can find dancing, music, parades, costumes and contests all month long! A current 64th Annual 2018 Carnival Schedule can be found here.
The activities are in Papiamento, the official language of Aruba, and I don't speak it very well, here is what I do know.
Fakkel Optocht - Torchlight March (Parade)
Parada - Parade
Prins & Pancho Election - Prince and Pancho Election. The prince escorts the carnival queen, and the Pancho is personal assistant to the prince and "royal jester".
Jump Up - Street Party
Tumba - Drum music of the African slaves of Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire eventually merged with Dutch Meringueto form Tumba. During the this contest, lyrics about Carnival are written, and the winner is crowned Tumba King or Queen.
Hebbe Hebbe Happening - Lazy Days Happening
Marcha di Despedida - Farewell Parade
Momito - Little Momo
Burning of King Momo - Although it might sound dramatic and barbaric, it is actually a very symbolic end to Carnival in Aruba as well as Curacao and Bonaire. King Momo comes from the Greek God of satire and mockery. He represents excess, dance, revelry, fun, excitement ... the spirit of Carnival. He gives islanders permission to have fun and let loose. So the burning of King Momo signifies "burning up" the craziness of carnival in preparation for the solemness of the Catholic observance of Lent.
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