Though it may be most well-known in Brazil, Carnival, the spectacular celebration of all things vibrant until Ash Wednesday, is celebrated throughout many Caribbean islands as well.
Curaçao, a small island in the southern Caribbean is an island that takes Carnival very seriously. To show you just how much the islanders adore this annual celebration, we’ve interviewed a Carnival enthusiast.
Discover Carnival Curaçao
Meet Ezzie Cijntje, the marketing and communications specialist at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. One of the most luxurious resorts on the island. Ezzie was born and raised on Curaçao, and has been celebrating Carnival her entire life!
Ezzie, what is Carnival Curaçao?
Curaçao’s Carnival is one of the largest and longest-lasting Carnival celebrations in the Caribbean. It’s also one of the best times to visit the island. This year, Carnival season is a bit shorter than usual because the celebrations always end before Ash Wednesday. Since Ash Wednesday is February 14th, that leaves only 1.5 months to celebrate! In a way, this makes the season more exciting, since all of the festivities are one after another. There’s no time to rest. From now until February 13th we celebrate!
How did Carnival Begin?
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, though, that Curaçao Carnival started to gain the popularity it enjoys today.
Are there any differences of Curacao’s Carnival to that of other nearby islands?
There are a few differences between the Curaçao Carnival and other Caribbean islands. Aruba and Bonaire are the only islands that have a similar Carnival to ours. The biggest difference is in the music, length of the season, and costumes.
What role, if any, do you play on the occasion?
Carnival is my favorite season! Ever since I was little, I’ve participated in the festivities and parade. It’s been fun to watch the celebrations become bigger and better as I’ve grown up. As soon as the season ends I immediately begin making plans for the next season. I start anticipating the group costume revelations and band reveals. I love being a part of the parades, briefly during college I took a hiatus, but I’ve since started again, and nothing can keep me away!
Why do you love Curacao’s Carnival?
What I love most about Curaçao’s Carnival are the activities and festivities leading up to the big day, Gran Marcha. I love the fact that people of all ages have the chance to participate in the parades. There’s a children’s, teen, and an adults parade. Disabled persons are also invited to participate in the adult parade. We all get a chance to be part of the huge celebration.
What are the most popular and exciting Carnival events?
The most exciting Carnival events are the Tumba Festival, Jump in, Jump up and the King + Queen contests. After the official opening day of the Carnival season, the Tumba Festival takes place. The Tumba Festival is a four-day musical event featuring the most talented local composers, singers, and bands in a competition to have their piece selected as the year’s official Carnival road march Tumba song.
This isn’t just any festival; it’s a musical extravaganza! Winning means gaining prestige sought by the world’s most talented musicians. The winner becomes Rei di Tumba (King of Tumba). After the Tumba festival, the festivities continue. Various Carnival groups join together and dance in the streets doing Jump-ups (outdoor) and Jump-ins (indoor) with different musical bands.
How long is Carnival?
The Carnival opening this year on January 6, and it ends on February 13th. Some seasons Carnival is two months long. It just depends on what day Ash Wednesday falls on.
How and where can island visitors participate and enjoy the festivities?
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the season with us! They can watch the parade at the CCGG (Curaçao Carnival Goes Global) Dome, which is located Desi’s Mall FD Rooseveltweg 50, which is more or less at the halfway point of the route. To join just visit www.ccggofficial.com.
Here are some tips visitors may find helpful:
The Carnival route starts off in Santa Maria and 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 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!
How does Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Celebrate?
At Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort we celebrate Carnival by giving our Sunday brunch the Carnival theme or one of our BBQ Nights at Medi Restaurant.
Thank you, Ezzie! We hope you enjoy this year’s Carnival! For those of you interested in celebrating Carnival Curaçao style, you can still get there this season! If not, it’s never too early to begin making plans for next year!
Image credits belong to: Lindomar Henrietta, Evento | Show | Otro (ESO)