Known as one of the biggest parties of the year, Carnival is celebrated in different styles all around the world, from the dramatic Italian masks and gowns of Venice to the colorful feather-filled dances of Brazil, to the festive beads and balconies of New Orleans. While masses of people migrate to these Carnival capitals, planning a trip to one of tahe lesser known Carnivals is a great way to have a memorable and authentic experience without the typical saturation of tourists.
We sat down with local Curacaoan and marketing and communications specialist of Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Ezzie Cijntje, to get a better understanding of what Carnival is like in her hometown.
A Bit of History
Curacao’s Carnival is one of the longest-running Carnivals in the Caribbean and lasts 1-2 months depending on the year. Its roots lie in the Catholic tradition of Lent, where people would give up meat, and the actual name ‘Carne Levale’ means removal of meat. From there, Carnival transformed into masquerade parties where people celebrated their last hoorahs, and today it is widely celebrated throughout the Caribbean. This year’s Carnival runs from January 6th – February 13th.
A Party for the Ages
The biggest day of Carnival is called Gran Marcha, but each day leading up to then is filled with processions, dancing, and costumes. The whole community contributes to the spirit of Carnival and people of all ages can participate with specific parades dedicated to children, teens, and adults.
One of Ezzie’s favorite festivals during Carnival is the Tumba festival. This is a four-day musical competition that pits groups of singers, composers, and bands against each other to perform their original Tumba anthems. The crowd chooses a winner who becomes the Rei di Tumba, and their song becomes the year’s official Tumba song. Of course, the competitions are all in good fun and always end in even more music, dancing, and celebration.
Visit Curacao’s Carnival
To get the best Carnival experience, book a room at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao. Local staff like Ezzie can give you insider tips on the festival, like how to get special tourist seating and which part of the Carnival route is the best to mingle with the locals.