Carnival! Dancing and Music!
Ancient Carnival began as a Catholic rite to represent the Christian practice of “Carne Levale,” or giving up meat for Lent. In the 19th century, Curaçao continued the tradition by organizing masquerade parties and marches in private clubs. It wasn’t until 1969 that Curaçao Carnival! started to gain the popularity it enjoys today. It’s one of the largest and longest-lasting Carnival spectacles of the Caribbean — starting in early January, and ending late February/ March. The Curacao Carnival will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2010, you are invited to join us in the celebrations!
Jump in / Jump up
After the official opening day of the Carnival! Curacao season, usually in January, Carnival groups assemble and dance in the streets. They follow musical bands, wearing T-shirts so the audience can recognize the name of the group. During the following weeks, they organize Jump ups (outdoor) and Jump ins (indoor), selling T-shirts to raise money for their participation in the Gran Marcha (“The Grand Parade”).
Characters and Contests
The main marches, the product of weeks of enthusiastic preparation, take place in February or March. They feature hordes of fantastic floats, costumes, and characters, plus Carnival royalty elected during full-scale beauty contests.
There are two big parades, one on Sunday in the daytime — Curaçao’s Gran Marcha (“The Grand Parade”) — and the Marcha Despedida (“the Farewell March”) a couple of days later, usually on Tuesday evening. The latter has a special magic — floats are adorned with sparkling lights and at the finale of the parade at midnight, the Momo (a big straw-filled doll) is burned. Carnival celebrations usually last until the eve of Ash Wednesday.
- Carnival Queen - Represents Mother Earth, the symbol for fertility and peace.
- Carnival King (King Momo) - As symbol for infertility, sins and bad luck, this straw-filled king is burned in a spectacular ritual at the end of Carnival.
- Prince and Pancho - Carnival's boisterous energy stands out next to these two "city leaders".
Tips for Visitors
The Carnival route varies from year to year, but always goes through Otrobanda. Arrive early to get a good spot, and ask your hotel concierge about special seating for tourists. If you want to dance and mingle with the locals, stick to the streets. The crowds are generally friendly and family-oriented. And if you get the chance to join the parade, definitely take it! It’s an experience of a lifetime. And most important of all — don’t forget your camera!
For more information on this year's events visit our Carnival Website.
Escape to the Caribbean’s hidden treasure. Fall in love with Curacao’s world-class diving and beaches, invigorating outdoor adventure, and amazing Carnival celebrations. Make your Curacao Caribbean travel arrangements today!