Curacao gears up for Karnaval season

The island of Curaçao is gearing up for a celebration unlike any other around the Caribbean. The year’s biggest festival, Karnaval, will begin January 2nd, 2008, engulfing the island with local dance, costumes, food and entertainment. Karnaval builds to its zenith with the Grand Parade on February 3(rd )and culminates with the Grand Farewell Parade on February 5th.

From its origins as a jubilant street celebration among slaves, Curaçao’s Karnaval has evolved into a month-long cultural mash-up conjunction of colorful Dutch, Asiatic, Creole and Caribbean traditions. Curaçao’s native music—an afro-caribbean-latin hybrid called Tumba—provides the official soundtrack to Karnaval, and becomes the playing ground for musical competitions held throughout the island.

“Karnaval is a pure celebration of our culture,” stated Eugene Rhuggenaath, Commissioner of Economic Affairs and Tourism. “The energy builds throughout the month to a glorious eruption of joy during the Grand Parade.”

The festival season runs from early January, and quickly heats up with the election of the Karnaval Queen, Prince and Pancho in a talent competition. What follows are days of “jump-ins” (indoor parties) and “jump-ups” (outdoor parties), including the four day Tumba music festival where bands vie to have their song chosen as the official parade anthem. Kids and teens get a chance to celebrate their own Karnaval elections and Tumba tournaments, too.

As forts, clubs, restaurants and bars burst to life with the Karnaval spirit, Karnaval groups meet in secrecy to finalize dazzling, elaborate costumes for the Grand Parade. With costumes that can cost over $1,000 and team names like “The Jumping Heads” and “Crazy Diamonds,” these groups travel the Parade Route vying for the honor of best dressed.


The grand finale of Karnaval literally explodes onto the scene as King Momo—a giant effigy stuffed with fireworks—is ritually set aflame after dark.

With its pristine diving locations, secluded beaches, championship golf course, and amazing world-class fishing, Curaçao offers something for everyone - from the adventure traveler to those who simply want to unwind and enjoy its perfect climate. Curaçao is located in the outer fringes of the hurricane belt and boasts an eclectic mix of history and culture, which welcomes people to this unique island paradise. American Airlines offers daily flights to Curaçao through Miami. Continental Airlines provides non-stop weekly service to Curaçao through Newark. Beginning December 22, Delta Airlines will offer weekly Saturday service to Curaçao from Atlanta.