The most exciting time of the year in the Caribbean has arrived! Carnival! Though it may take place across the Caribbean, Carnival celebrations greatly differ from island to island. Curacao has a very unique twist on it’s Carnival celebrations, and to understand just how Carnival goes down on Curacao, we’ve interviewed none other than Curacao native Ezzie Cijntje.
Discover Carnival Curaçao
Ezzie, what is Carnival?
Just like the other Caribbean islands, Curaçao has its own Carnival season. For us, Carnival is a HUGE celebration with many festivals and parades. It’s the time of the year when everyone comes together to have a great time with family friends; it’s all about a good time and the spirit of happiness and laughter, including music and food.
What makes Carnival Curacao different than Carnival on other Caribbean islands?
Here on Curaçao, we’ve created our own music for the Carnival season, instead of the typical Calypso or Samba. During the Carnival season we dance TUMBA, which originated from Africa and was developed and introduced to the island in the 17th century, after which a local composer gave it its own rhythm. Every year the Tumba develops itself, with influences from merengue and Latin jazz. Approximately three weeks before the parade, we have a Tumba Festival, which is a total of 4 nights filled with music. Over the course of those four evenings, 60 Tumba compositions enter to win the title of Tumba King or Queen. The song that wins the festival is the official song played during the parades. We also do a Tumba Kids festival, which is one day long. Our Tumba and the music we play during the Carnival season is what makes our Carnival different from other Caribbean islands.
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Which aspects of celebrating are the most popular among islanders?
The most popular are the Tumba Festivals and the Jump-In’s. Jump-In’s are street party scenes where everyone comes together and listens to Tumba’s and Roadfire’s. Of course on the parade day, you’ll find half of Curaçao on the streets watching all the colorful groups.
How long does Carnival last?
Carnival season lasts approximately two months. It all the depends on when the liturgical season starts. The final parade is on the Tuesday night before Ash Wednesday. In certain years it worked out to where Carnival only lasted for a month or a month and a half. This year it’s from January 7th until February 28th, giving us plenty of time to celebrate.
Would you recommend people to visit Curaçao during Carnival?
Carnival is a great time to visit Curaçao!! If you like to be in a crowd, enjoy loud music, costumes, colors, and food, then you’ll love Carnival. Tourists are welcome during our Carnival. The Curaçao Tourist Board has created an area especially for tourists where they can stand and watch the parade. Also they can sign up on the Carnival website and get all the necessary information to enjoy Carnival the way islanders do.
How do you celebrate Carnival?
Carnival is my FAVORITE season of the year. I love the music, the Jump’Ins and of course being in the Parade. Since I was young, my mother enrolled me into the Children’s Parade, and as I grew older I participated in the Teeners Parade, and now I am part of the Big Parade. I haven’t been in the parade since 2013, and this year I am back in it and super excited about it! Participating in Carnival is part of my culture, and who I am, thus I enjoy every second of it. As soon as the festivals and the parties officially start, I will grab my friends, and we are off for a good time!
What would you recommend visitors do, see, and experience during Carnival?
EVERYTHING! I will tell them NO WORRIES I’ll take you around, let them get the Curaçao feel. A must-have experience is attending the street parties and the parade. Visitors will enjoy the Tumba festivals. Although keep in mind you won’t know what they are saying unless you speak the local language!
Related: How to Say “Hello” and Other Important Phrases to Use While Visiting the Island of Curacao
Thank you to Ezzie for giving us this wonderful insight on Curaçao Carnival! If you’re planning on heading to Curaçao this year to celebrate with the locals or considering it for next year, we hope Ezzie’s information helps you enjoy the festivities! For any accommodation needs, we recommend staying the luxurious and relaxing Santa Barbara Resort & Spa.