Carnival in Curaçao: the 2023 party guide
After 2 years of skipping Carnival due to COVID, the island’s biggest festival is back in full swing and everyone is ready to make up for lost time. Much like on other Caribbean islands, carnival is a big deal here! Locals of all ages get all glammed up in the most vibrant costumes and hit the streets dancing. When visiting Curaçao in February, Carnival is definitely an experience you cannot miss. It’s a beautiful celebration with loads of people-watching, float-admiring, and great Caribbean vibes. This year’s slogan is ‘Nos Karnaval’ means ‘Our Carnival’, which refers to its emphasis on inclusivity.
What you should know:
Prior to the main carnival parade, there is a dedicated children’s and teen's parade where the local youth enjoys the tradition in the cutest ways.
But before carnival even starts, there are so many parties, events, and celebrations in January and early February in anticipation of it—from jump-ins to Tumba music festivals. Check out which here.
During the ‘Gran Marcha’ around 25-30 groups will show off their costumes and beautiful floats. Keep an eye out for our personal favorite, as their outfits never disappoint:: Hats off to the dreams.
Tumba music will be the main genre played during Carnival. Originally from Africa, Tumba was brought to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao in the 17th century and has since evolved locally—making it the island’s most popular local dance music.
The highly celebrated Tumba festival is held in January, where local artists compete for the title of the Tumba Queen or King. The winner’s song becomes the ‘anthem’ of this year’s carnival celebrations. The winner is announced on January 27th: Raey Lauffer, view here.
- The children’s carnival parade: February 12 at 4 p.m.
- The teen carnival parade: February 17 at 7 p.m.
- The grand carnival parade, the ‘Gran Marcha’: February 19 starting at 10 a.m.
- The grand farewell parade: February 21 from 7 p.m. onwards.
If you aren’t sure which to go to, we suggest going to see the ‘Gran Marcha’ on the 19th as that’s the splashiest and most popular parade.
The adult parades start where Franklin D. Rooseveltweg and Jan Noorduynweg meet in the neighborhood of St. Maria and end at Brionplein in Otrobanda. You can join the rest of the locals and spectators at any point along the main roads (through Marchena and Habaai). Some say that the chance of finding an available spot is higher at the start of the parade, but we also know that watching it at Roodeweg is always a fun time.
There are some areas where you can pay for a spot, parking, and toilets. But if you feel like a workout and avoiding the hassle of looking for parking, you could also walk from Boho Bohemian Boutique Hotel to Brion plein via the Emmabrug.
What to bring:
There will be enough food trucks and spots to get something to drink or eat. But it can get very hot out, so here’s what we suggest to take with you:
- Wear sneakers + comfy clothes but feel free to dress creatively or festive!
- Bring some cash for food, drinks, and other expenses.
- A bottle of water to stay hydrated
- good vibes!
For fifteen guilders, you can buy a reusable carnival cup to help keep the island clean during the festivities. Available at Sambil, Bugs Bunny Snèk, Dutch Treat Pietermaai, 24 Uur Uit de Muur, and Pompstation Barber
For more information, check out https://www.curacaokarnaval.com/en/