Tuesday, February 9, 2016
National Holidays & Celebrations
Holidays and celebrations are part of the Aruban culture. On this page you can find out more about Aruban holidays, celebrations and traditions in order to give you a chance to celebrate these festivities with us while vacationing in Aruba. Or better yet, plan ahead and make sure you will be visiting Aruba during one of these celebrations.
Please find below list of National Holidays that are annually commemorated in Aruba. For more information on what to expect while vacationing in Aruba during a National Holiday, please check out our travel tips for official holiday's page.
New Year's Day
Annually on January 1st
Like in most countries, midnight fireworks mark the beginning of a new year in Aruba. This spectacular display can be viewed from all around the island, but the best spots are probably on top of one of the hills for a complete overview of the spectacle.
A common Aruban tradition on the day leading up to New Year's Eve is setting off a pagara, a long string of Chinese firecrackers. The pagara will be set off all around the island and mark the end of year for local businesses. According to the myth the firecrackers will also keep away any evil spirits. Another known tradition with New Year is Dande, where a group of musicians will stroll from house to house (most of the times of family and friends) to spread best wishes for the New Year.
Betico Croes Day
Annually on January 25th
On January 25th Aruba commemorates the birthday of the late Aruban political leader, Gilberto Francois (Betico) Croes. Betico Croes helped Aruba with attaining the "Status Aparte". With its new status Aruba was given autonomy from the Netherlands Antilles, and was allowed to function as a commonwealth within the Dutch kingdom.
This official holiday features several cultural, sports and musical events throughout the island and there is a national celebration at Plaza Betico in Oranjestad.
February 8th 2016
Carnival Monday is always taking place after the weekend of the grand Carnival parades and the Monday before Ash Wednesday. On this official day of rest everyone can recoup and recover from all the parades and festivities that took place in the past 2 months.
Click here to view the full carnival schedule.
National Anthem & Flag Day
Annually on March 18th
March 18th is considered Aruba's National Day and on this day Arubans celebrate the Status Aparte, the national anthem and flag.
This official holiday features several cultural, sports and musical events throughout the island and there is a national celebration in the evening at Plaza Betico in Oranjestad.
March 25th 2016
Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
March 28h 2016
Easter Monday is a Christian holiday celebrated after Easter Sunday, which observes Jesus Christ's resurrection.
Annually on April 27th
On this day we celebrate the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. An official ceremony is held in honor of HM King Willem-Alexander followed by various activities such as flea markets, kite contests, sporting events and other fun activities at different community centers.
From 1890 to 2013, the day was known as Queen's Day. On April 30th 2013, on Queen's Day, Prince Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother Beatrix and became King of the Netherlands. Consequently, from 2014 onwards the name is changed from Queen's Day to King's Day and also the date has changed from April 30th to April 27th.
Annually on May 1st
A public holiday in many countries worldwide to celebrate of the working classes.
May 5th 2016
A Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ's ascension to heaven.
Annually on December 25th
This holiday is celebrated in the same way as in most other countries; the festivities are a combination of the commemoration of Jesus's birth with various cultural customs.
Most locals repair and paint their homes before decorating it with Christmas trees, lights and decorations. A new tradition that was born a few years ago is the decoration of traffic circles around the island. Each circle is decorated by a local company or organization and is being opened with a small ceremony as soon as the decorations are completed. It's worth driving around the island to admire all the beautiful transformed homes, offices and traffic circles.
Gaita bands are bringing the traditional sound of Christmas during parties and festivities. From November till Christmas you may find Gaita bands in shopping malls, restaurants, stores and private residences.
Read more about Christmas in Aruba.
Annually on December 26th
Boxing Day is celebrated the day following Christmas Day. Several restaurants serve special Christmas menus in the weeks leading to Boxing Day.
Celebrations in Aruba
There are several celebrations that are not an official holiday, but that are still part of the cultural celebrations in Aruba. Music and garments play an important role in most cultural celebrations. Also check out our events section for more information about parties and activities during your stay.
Annually on June 24th
A special festive song, bright yellow and red costumes and traditional dances highlight the annual "Dera Gai" (the burying of the rooster) festival. This cultural celebration is observed on the Feast of St. John the Baptist and the purpose was to thank the Gods for the good harvest year and to request them to bless the harvests for the following year. This celebration dates back to 1862. Festival activities are held at various community centers.
Aruba's Carnival is a fun-filled season with parades, shows, elections and music contests. Carnival season officially starts each year at 11:11 AM on the 11th of the 11th (November 11th). The Carnival Schedule, including all contests, parties and parades, for the upcoming season is official announced during a ceremony on this day. During the period starting from November 11th till December 31st, participants have time to prepare for the Carnival parades and contests. All the contests, parties and parades start after the New Year's celebration, with the first parade, the Torch Parade, on the first Saturday in January. The last parades are always taking place in the weekend before Ash Wednesday.
Sinterklaas (Sint Nicolas)
Annually on December 5th
Traditionally, Saint Nicolas arrives with his "Zwarte Pieten" (helpers) via boat at the Harbor in Oranjestad a few weeks before his birthday. On his arrival he greets all children of Aruba and rewards them with gifts and candy for their good behavior. On December 5th, on his birthday, Sint Nicolas treats all children with presents that get delivered to their house.