Holidays, Curacao

Curacao parties & events

New Year's Day (January 1, public holiday)
After the year has ended with banging fireworks (see New Year's Eve), the first day of the New Year is a traditional day for family gatherings. For several days, the streets are littered with red scraps from the thousands of firecrackers set off.

Indian Independence Day (January 26)
The birth of the Indian Republic is celebrated by the Indian people. Some Indian-owned stores, such as clothing stores and boutiques, are closing.

Carnival (January to March)
This first celebration and the biggest of the year usually begins with a number of events in January and continues until the eve of Ash Wednesday. Local hotels also have their own program with carnival street dances (also called jump-ups) and parties. Contact the Curaçao Carnival Foundation (tel: 4612777, fax: 4611068) or the Curaçao Tourist Board Europe. Book early!

Kite Season (February to April)
Between Carnival and Easter, when the rainy season ends, the trade winds begin to pick up. You will see dozens of homemade kites floating through the air; this starts after Carnival and continues until Easter. You can buy a handmade kite on the street for a few guilders. Many groups organize kite races on neighborhood soccer fields and on the main parking lot in Punda (Waaigat).

Lent (usually from February to March)
This used to be a very sacred period for the largely Catholic population, but in recent years Lent has become less important. The once-strict Catholic prohibitions that applied during this forty-day period have been watered down. Still, on Ash Wednesday, the day after the Farewell Carnival parade, you will see people with a traditional ash cross on their forehead. Many people, especially the elderly, see this period as a time of self-reflection. Grocery stores and markets stock a lot of fish, as many Catholics do not eat meat during Lent. You will see salted cod on the menu in the most unexpected places.

Passover (March/April)
To celebrate the Jewish Passover, businesses of Jewish Curaçaoans are closed, including the largest bank on the island. The date may vary, but it usually falls around Easter.

Good Friday (March/April, public holiday)
A public holiday on this largely Catholic island and the start of a week of Easter vacations for schools. As during all school vacations, beaches are crowded. Grocery stores and markets have peak days selling fresh and salted fish the days before.

Easter (March/April)
Children on the island dress up in their Easter garb for the celebration of the traditional First Holy Communion ("risibimentu"), which is held between Easter Sunday and Ascension Day (May). On Easter Sunday, a beautiful kite race is held in the parking lot at the Waaigat in Punda.

Seú Folkloric Harvest Celebration (March/April, public holiday)
On the Monday after Easter Monday, local folklore groups in traditional dress march through the streets of Punda and Otrobanda, commemorating the harvest festival of the past. The groups, consisting of participants of all ages, play traditional musical instruments and dance through the streets.

Curacao International Sailing Regatta (April/May)
Held on the waters outside the Curaçao Seaquarium, it offers a spectacle of hundreds of colorful sailboats from around the world.

Queens Day (April 30, public holiday)
On Queen's Day, there are official celebrations in Fort Amsterdam and a festive atmosphere in Punda.

Sami Sailing Regatta (April)
Host site of this traditional two-day event, usually held on the last weekend in April, is the fishing village of Boka St. Michiel (known to locals as "Boka Sami" or simply "Boka"), just west of Willemstad. Locals flock there to eat at the numerous stalls, listen to bands playing lively music, and watch the sailing races. It's a busy and noisy, but entertaining festival.

Labor Day (May 1, official holiday)
The government and unions organize special activities.

Ascension Day (May, official holiday)
Also in Curacao the time for the first holy communion celebrations.

Curacao International Jazz Festival (May)
A two-day jazz fest organized by Curaçao Jazz Foundation that attracts top international artists as well as local talent.

Commemoration of 1969 (May 30)
Commemoration of the historic labor dispute of 1969, which ended in a major social uprising. Trade unions organize cultural activities, give speeches and hold parades.

Curacao International Jazz Festival (May)
A series of music concerts featuring classical ensembles and traditional groups, readings of poems.

Mother's Day (May)
Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May with many gifts, flowers and sales in the island's stores. Special events are held in Punda and in many hotels.

Father's Day (June)
Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June and like Mother's Day with busy shopping, shows and musical tributes to all fathers. Special events are held especially in Punda.

Curacao Salsa Festival (late August/September)
This annual event brings together well-known musicians from Latin America and the Caribbean islands. It is organized by the Curaçao Festival Center.

Major school vacations (July)
From the end of June to the beginning of August, schools have vacations. Activities are often organized for children. The beaches are crowded both by locals and by Dutch visitors who then have summer vacation.

Flag Day Curacao(July 2, official holiday)
On July 2, 1951, the Island Council met for the first time. On July 2, 1984, this day was declared "The Day of the National Anthem and the Flag. The day is marked by official ceremonies in the morning at Brion Square in Otrobanda and at Parke Himno y Bandera (the Park of the National Anthem and the Flag) in Barber, on the western part of the island.

Commemoration of Slave Revolt (August 17)
The slave revolt of 1795, the most important in Curaçao's history, will be commemorated with musical and cultural events on the waterfront on the Rif, behind the Holiday Beach Hotel, and at Landhuis Kenepa (the Kenepa Plantation) on the western part of the island.

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur (September/October)
These holy Jewish days, the Jewish New Year and the Great Day of Atonement, fall on different days in September or October each year. Stores and banks of Jewish Curaçaoans are closed.

School vacations Curacao (October)
Schools on the island are closed for a week, which coincides with Bonaire's annual Sailing Regatta.

Arrival of Saint Nicholas (late November)
This famous Dutch Good Saint enters St. Ann's Bay by sailing ship, presumably from Spain, along with his white horse and accompanied by his helpers, the Black Petes. Families gather in Otrobanda, where there is a festive atmosphere.

Saint Nicholas Celebration (December 5)
Children all put down their little shoes the night before with some grass for St. Nicholas' horse. All the schools join in the festivities - you will see Black Petes in jeeps driving around the residential areas all week. Local stores are decorated with prints of Black Pete.

Light Fest (December)
In preparation for Christmas, the electricity company, in cooperation with a popular radio station, organizes a lighting contest every year at Christmas. All participating offices and houses are then decorated.

Christmas Curacao (December 24-26, public holidays)
Two and a half days of family celebrations, formally beginning on Christmas Eve. A midnight mass is celebrated in Catholic churches.

New Year's Eve Curacao
December 31, public holiday