It’s not every destination that can celebrate the annual pre-Lenten rite of Carnival with a two month’s of special events. But Aruba can do it, and they have, with a series of colorful and fun events in February and March. Located only 2.5 hours by air from Miami and 4 hours from New York City, this southern Caribbean island boasts year-round cooling trade winds and perfect weather with average annual temperatures of 82 Fahrenheit and less than 20 inches of rainfall per year.
Now for the party! Music and flamboyant costumes play a central role in events ranging from the Queen elections to the Grand Parades which wind their way down the streets of San Nicolas and Oranjestad to the delight of thousands of spectators. The Grand Parade in Oranjestad will take place on Sunday, March 6, 2011, the weekend prior to the Mardi Gras parties held Shrove Tuesday, March 8th.
The main attractions include the Carnival Queen Election Day, which will take place on February 19, where Aruba elects one of its most important Carnival representatives, the Aruba Carnival Queen. Aruba’s Lighting Parade will take place on February 26 in downtown Oranjestad and incorporates thousands of tiny lights into costumes, road pieces and floats, creating a dramatic effect to accompany the extravagant display.
Don’t tell the kids, but you’ll have to set your alarm clocks at 4:00 a.m. on March 5th for Aruba’s annual “pajama party” Jouvert Morning in San Nicolas. An early morning open invitation to the island’s largest “jump up” is preceded by carnival enthusiasts from all throughout the island who follow the various live music caravans down the city streets until sunrise. Truly a unique, fun way to wake up.
Aruba’s biggest Carnival celebration is the 57th Grand Carnival Parade, an all-day event which winds it way down city avenues to the delight of thousands of spectators. The March 6th parade is filled with music, festive floats, and costumes decorated with a wide variety of colorful stones and feathers. If the partying gets too tiring, take the kids on an underwater SeaTrek adventure, or on an electric car tour, as author Robyn Parets did in this review of Aruba Family Fun.
There is still time to book special Carnival packages to Aruba for Presidents Day or Spring Break. Below are some of the available offers:
• Travelers visiting the all-inclusive Occidental Grand Aruba (800/858-2258), located on Aruba’s famed Palm Beach, can enjoy savings of up to 29% when booking this season’s travel special. Vacations at Occidental Grand Aruba include unlimited meals and snacks, kids clubs, free-flowing drinks, all resort activities, nightly entertainment, and all taxes and gratuities. Rates start at $241/N per adult, based on double occupancy, with reduced children’s rates depending on ages. The offer is available now through April 23, 2011.
• Another a la carte option, the AAA Four-Diamond Award-winning Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa is taking 50% off rates that begin at $291/N per room through April 24, 2011. The 50% off sale also includes $25 credit to the resort’s oceanfront Larimar Spa, $150 beverage credit on stays of 5 or more nights, $200 beverage credit on stays of 7 nights and “Kids Eat Free” in Laguna, the resort’s indoor and al fresco dining venue.
For more information on Aruba, please visit online at www.ARUBA.com or call 1-800-TO-ARUBA.
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