There's plenty going on in Aruba no matter what time of year you visit, so it's that much sweeter when you can plan your visit to coincide with one of the island's many great cultural events.
Like most Caribbean islands, Aruba has a unique Carnival celebration, infused with both Dutch influences and the culture of the Antilles. Aruba Carnival features parades in San Nicolas and Orenjestad highlighted by tumba and calypso music, a balloon parade, the crowning of a Carnival king and queen, a Heineken drinking contest, and the burning of King Momo. Aruba's Carnival is tied to the Lenten calendar and peaks on the days preceding Ash Wednesday, typically in February or March.
Can't make it to Aruba during Carnival season? The Carnival spirit comes to life in San Nicholas every Thursday night from June to December during the weekly Carubbian Festival, a street party that includes live performers, food stands, craft stalls, and more. The Carubbian Festival is held from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. and is a nice opportunity to get a taste of local Aruban culture.
Aruba Hi-Winds Windsurfing Championships
Windsurfers and kiteboarders from around the world flock to Aruba in June for one of the sports' premier events, the annual Aruba Hi-Winds Competition. Taking advantage of Aruba's summer trade winds, the amateur competition is held at the Fishermans' Huts.
Bon Bini Festival
Come down to historic Fort Zoutman in Oranjestad any Tuesday night to enjoy this low-cost ($5), high-energy festival featuring traditional Aruba dance and folklore performances. Food and drink are on sale, and the performances run from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.
Soul Beach Music Festival
This annual soul and R&B festival is held in Aruba's second-largest city, San Nicholas, and features daily beach parties and late-night club events sandwiched around the main menu of live music and comedy performances. The festival is typically held on Memorial Day weekend in May.
St. Nicholas Day in the Dutch Caribbean
Keep an eye out for St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) riding his white horse and trailed by his Zwarte Pete minions on Dec. 5, St. Nicholas Eve, in Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten, and Bonaire. This is the day that good Dutch children hope to find their shoes filled with gifts, while the naughty fear being thrown in a sack by the Zwarte Pete and carried off to Spain.