Arubans are well-known for their fun, easy-going festivals and events. Aruba offers exciting events for everyone from single tourists to families with children. You can purchase food and drink at most festivals, and don't be surprised if a crafty souvenir catches your eye. One thing is certain: You will definitely enjoy your Aruban festival experience.
The Bon bini Festival takes place every Tuesday evening, rain or shine, from 6:30 to 8:30. Check out local food, drink, music, dancing, arts, and crafts. "Bon bini" means "welcome" in Papiamento, and that's the perfect word to describe the enthusiastic environment of this festival. The Bon bini festival showcases some of Aruba's most amazing artists. Steel drum musicians and dancers exude talent, and local artists and craftsmen show off their very best wares. Admission to this event is usually around $3 (USD) but can fluctuate; food and drink costs are separate, so make sure to budget for that, as well as for any purchases you may make!
"One Cool Summer" is held every Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. near the Hyatt Regency Resort and Casino. This festival focuses on live entertainment and music, and like the Bonbini festival, also features local artists and food.
Also similar to the Bon bini festival is the weekly Caribbean festival held on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This festival highlights Caribbean Culturecultural heritage through traditional dance, music, food, and art. The festival begins with a music and dance performance, continues with an open-air street market, and concludes with a presentation on Caribbean culture at the St. Teresita Center.
The Aruba Culinary Festival is not a weekly event, but it is Aruba's latest monthly festival. The first Monday of each month at Divi Links offers visitors the opportunity to sample some of the finest locally prepared food and wine. The festival is hosted by the Aruba Gastronomic Association, and costs $15(USD).
...drink, dance, and mingle the night away.
Every year, coinciding with Lent sometime in February, Aruba celebrates Carnival, a grandiose, two-week festival of fantastic parties, dinners, parades, and events. Carnival in Aruba begins with two children's festivals and parades, before kicking it up a notch. The Carnival Queen competition takes place in Oranjestad, where women finally show off the Carnival costumes they've worked on all year. The first Grand Carnival Parade is held in San Nicolas, and the second in Oranjestad. Both feature amazing handmade floats and costumes, entertaining Aruban song and dance, and delicious food and drink. Afterwards, the big events that mark the end of Carnival take place simultaneously in San Nicolas and Oranjestad: the Old Mask Parade and the Burning of King Momo. Resorts, restaurants, and bars host their own Carnival celebrations across the island. In 2011, a new event was introduced to the Carnival season: Carnival Flip Flop Beach Party. To create the event, sand is brought in to the Village Square in Palm Beach to create a beach scene amidst the popular clubs. As night falls, DJs play live music, and attendees have the opportunity to drink, dance, and mingle the night away.
Starting during Memorial Day weekend and lasting for five days, the Soul Beach Music Festival features a series of concerts that r&b and soul music lovers will thrill over. Nightly parties at various area nightclubs are also part of the event.
Each June, the popular Jazz and Latin Music Festival features talented musicians from around the world. Summer tourists can enjoy the musical stylings of internationally-acclaimed musicians while enjoying traditional Aruban food and drink. More active travelers can grab their partner's hand and hit the dance floor, dancing to salsa and meringue hits.
The Aruba International Film Festival also takes place in June. Hosted at the Paseo Herencia Entertainment Center, filmmakers from around the world screen their films in the week-long event. Of special note is the "Spotlight" series, which features films by Aruban and Caribbean filmmakers.
Professional and amatuer windsurfers alike can get in on the action in July with the Hi-Winds Tournament. Here, everyone can participate and see where they rank in the sport by entering any of the numerous events which rank surfers in events that focus on various different windsurfing manoeuvres, plus there is a kitesurfing race, a motorcycle race, and a lot of partying.
In November, the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta draws crowds to the beach to watch catamarans from around the world race for prizes. There are two races per day, each lasting about an hour, so guests can view the races and still make plans for the rest of the day.
In 2012, Aruba announced a new event, Caribbean Restaurant Week. The event, while meant to encourage locals to dine at local restaurants, is open to tourists as well. Several local restaurants offer a three course meal at a discounted rate in order to allow guests the opportunity to sample Caribbean fare.
Whatever festival you chose to attend, it's crucial to check with your hotel concierge or local tourist guides, since time, location, and cost fluctuate as events and festivals become more popular. If you are planning to visit exclusively for an annual festival like Carnival, check out Aruba's official tourism website, www.arubatourism.com, for updated cost, date, and time information.
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