Carnival, 101: Arubian Carnival

Words by Lil Tiger

childrens paradePhoto: kees_bimbam/Flickr

Arubian Carnaval is in full swing and, this year, the tiny and famously happy island is doing it big for the celebration’s 60th anniversary.

The season in Aruba officially kicks off right after the New Year, with two full months of festivities which culminate in the Parada Grandi, aka The Big Parade, in Oranjestad on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Unlike other carnival celebrations, Aruba’s big party is not a Tuesday night thing, even though it’s based on the same principle of letting it all loose before Lent.

Arubians take part in Carnaval festivities from the get go—we never really need an excuse to take a break from life and party—but things really jump off at Hebbe Hebbe and go strong from then almost daily until the Big Parade.

While there’s plenty of action before it, Hebbe Hebbe is the first you must go event of Arubian Carnival. It’s a big party (and a fairly young tradition—the name is a contraction of the Papiamento Hende bebiendo Heineken Bier, meaning “People Drinking Heineken Beer”) in front of Oranjestad’s main post office where everybody drinks, socializes and gets familiar with the music of the season—the road marches, the anthems, the various bands who will be on the trucks.

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