Aruba is a great destination to visit any time of year, but if you’re lucky enough to be around when one of the island’s spectacular festivals take place, chances are you’ll fall in love with this sun-drenched Carribean isle. No matter if it’s winter, spring or summer, Aruba’s calendar is always filled with festivals and events. Here is a rundown of the ones you shouldn’t miss this year.
The Best Festivals & Events in Aruba to Attend This Year
Over the last 65 years, Arubans wear their colorful costumes and prepare for their annual carnival celebrations at the beginning of the year. Aruba Carnival lasts for around two months and ends before Lent. Boisterous parades, music contests, street parties that start after midnight and, of course, the election of the Carnival Queen, are only some of the things that make Aruba Carnival a long-awaited event. This year, calypso tunes and road march music started playing across the Caribbean island on January 5 and will last until March 3. On this day Aruba’s Grand Parade and the Burning of King Momo will mark the end of 2019’s carnival season.
Flip Flop Festival
In the sound of the phrase “flip flop” images of cerulean-water beaches, sandy toes and endless days of relaxation by the ocean come to mind. That’s all the Flip Flop Festival is about. Well, maybe except for the relaxation part. Flip Flop Festival has been taking place for eight years and has become one of the biggest in the Caribbean. Setting its stages on one of Aruba’s most beautiful beaches, the annual one-day event in late April brings a breath of fresh air in Oranjestad. This year’s headliners haven’t been announced yet but judging from last year’s lineup (including Fat Joe, Alborosie, Beenie Man) we can’t wait to hear about it. The festival kicks off with a party at E-Motions Aruba, one of the island’s hippest nightclubs,and the following day, festival goers and artists take over Bushiri Beach from 5 pm until 2 am.
Aruba Food Truck Festival
Carribean food lovers and foodies from all over the world mark your calendar for April 26 and 27. That’s when the Aruba Food Truck Festival takes place and you certainly don’t want to miss it. The city center of Oranjestad transforms into an open-air street food market with dozens of food trucks serving the region’s delicacies. The flavorful festival took place for the first time in 2018 and in 2019, it returns with even more ‘cuminda di truck’ as locals call them. But aside from food, for Arubans, a proper fest includes lots of music and ice-chilled beers and this year’s Aruba Food Truck Festival will have plenty of them. If you’re traveling with kids to Aruba, make sure to visit the interactive Kids Corner and don’t forget to brush up your skills in the local game Domino.
The Fourth of July
Every year on the Fourth of July, Aruba celebrates the USA Independence Day with events and fireworks shows taking place around the island. It might not be as spectacular as in the US, but if you want to go on vacation and still celebrate this special day, Aruba is the place to be. American chain hotels like Marriott, Hyatt and Divi host their own celebrations with colorful fireworks lighting up the night sky, offering their visitors a spectacular show. Ask your hotel if it plans on organizing an event for the Fourth of July beforehand. But even if it doesn’t, you can still celebrate with locals on the beach—Palm Beach and Eagle Beach have the best views of the fireworks.
Like almost every place around the world, Aruba holds its own celebrations during Halloween. And if you can’t imagine how this sun-drenched island becomes a spooky place to match Halloween’s spirit, wait until you find yourself on the island in October. Frightening monsters, daunting ghosts and grotesque zombies take over the island’s beaches while the well-polished hotels and resorts transform into haunted places. Themed Halloween parties take place in several beaches around the island like MooMba Beach in Noord, De Promenade of San Nicolas and at Varadero Aruba Marina in Oranjestad. Little ones will have plenty of opportunities to go “Trick or Treating” as most hotels and resorts organize special events for the family’s “little monsters.”
Soul Beach Music Festival
This year Soul Beach Music Festival celebrates its 19th anniversary with John Legend and Ella Mai headlining the festival’s lineup. The music and comedy festival takes place over Memorial Day weekend but events and performances run for about a week. Looking at previous lineups with names like LLCoolJ, Mary J Blige and The Roots having hit the festival’s stage, it comes as no surprise that Jetsetter Magazine named Soul Beach Music Festival “The Best Caribbean Summer Festival”. MooMba Beach, Baby Beach in San Nicolas and Harbor Arena in Oranjestad are some of the locations of this year’s festival. Keep an eye out on the official website because more names and venues will be announced soon.
A watersports festival couldn’t be missing from Aruba’s annual calendar. For four days every July, amateur and professional windsurfers and kitesurfers gather at Palm Beach for the Aruba Hi-Winds Tournament. Well, to be honest, Aruba is a popular destination for windsurfers all year round, but no one misses this four-day annual event in July. When Aruba Hi-Winds tournament took place for the first time, it only included windsurfing competitions. Nowadays, kiteboarding contests, race events like slalom and long-distance courses and mountain bike races comprise the festival’s program. You don’t have to be a professional or an amateur water sports enthusiast to attend Hi-Winds. There are plenty of activities for those preferring to stay on the beach and just watch windsurfers riding the waves. This year, from July 4 to July 8, beach chic fashion shows, live concerts and beach parties will liven up Fisherman Huts Beach in Noord.
Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival
This festival’s name says it all. The Caribbean Sea Jazz festival is a jazz music festival that takes place right by the sea at the Renaissance Festival Plaza. International renowned artists like George Benson, Chaka Khan, Candy Dulfer and David Sanborn have performed at the festival over the years, earning it an impressive reputation in the Caribbean. Around 8,000 local and international visitors come to Aruba every year in September to attend the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival. For two days the sound of saxophone fills the capital’s air, creating a romantic and sensual atmosphere. In 2019 Caribbean Sea Jazz festival will set its stages on September 20 and 21.
Bon Bini Festival
Bon Bini, folklore music and dance festival takes place every Tuesday at Fort Zoutman in the heart of Oranjestad. This weekly event aims to introduce Caribbean culture to the island’s visitors as well as entertain locals. Aruban dancers dressed in traditional costumes along with local bands playing road march and calypso tunes get visitors into the island’s vibrant vibe and present the region’s history and customs. Bon Bini Festival resembles Aruba Carnival but, trust us, it can’t compare to the real experience. The show starts at 7:00 pm and lasts for an hour and a half.
Aruba International Regatta
For the 10th year in the row, lavish yachts from North and South America and Europe sail to Aruba to race during the Aruba International Regatta. For three days, spectacular catamarans ruffle the island’s turquoise waters while Surfside Beach is packed with excited spectators. Aruba International Regatta 2019 will take place on August 16, 17 and 18.