Eat & Party Like a Local
Eat & Party Like a Local
Article written by Jessica Gallant
Curacao’s rich cultural heritage shines through its diverse array of events and its gastronomy. From its renowned carnival to its numerous happenings, Curacao’s calendar is brimming with excitement and deliciousness for locals and visitors alike. We invite you to join the warm-spirited Curacaoan community and embark on a journey of boundless entertainment through the cherished traditions and festivities of the island.
Tumba Festival – January
Tumba Festival is a 4-day music competition where talented singers compete for the title of Tumba King or Queen. The energetic performances offer a captivating experience, bringing all the spectators to joyfully dance and sing along. The winning song becomes a highlight of the Carnival Season, enhancing the festive atmosphere. Delicious “Pan ku Stoba” satisfies cravings during the event, and after the party, everyone heads to a “Truk di Pan” for tasty French fries served with meat and peanut sauce.
Carnival – January to March
Carnival is an explosion of happiness and tradition, lasting for weeks. Exciting parades featuring creatively designed floats and glittering costumes fill the streets while locals and visitors join the party, dancing to the contagious rhythms of Tumba music. Everyone is enjoying the festivities reflecting the island’s vibe while savoring delightful Curacaoan delicacies like “Pinda Herebe” (boiled peanut), “Boyo” (bread pudding), and “Kala,” (Spicy deep-fried black-eyed bean bites.)
Marcha di Seú – Easter Monday
This folklore celebration brings together locals of all ages who dress up in traditional costumes, parading through the streets of Otrobanda. This event commemorates the harvest season, people’s connection with nature, and the gratitude offered to the sky and God. During the festivities, typical Curacaoan treats such as “Kokada” and “Tentalaria” (coconut and cashew candy) are indulged, along with “Sopi Igra” (liver soup).
King’s Day – April 27th
Everyone gathers in the streets of Pietermaai and Punda, dressed in orange and waving the Dutch flag, to commemorate King Willem-Alexander’s birthday! The city center comes alive with lively music performances, while many stalls line up on Nieuwstraat and Wilhelminaplein, offering a variety of products from local artisans and tasty bites from food trucks and restaurants. Dutch snacks are served everywhere such as “Bitterballen,” “Kroket,” and “Frikandel,” don’t miss the chance to savor the unique and delicious “Cheeseballs,” a local specialty. For those with a sweet tooth, the “Oranje Tompouce” and “Poffertjes” are a must-try!
“Dia di Bandera” Flag Day – July 2nd
Flag Day is a celebration honoring the island’s flag and culture. This significant national holiday brings the community of Curacao together, fostering a sense of unity and pride as they display their patriotism and celebrate their heritage. The population looks forward to the ceremonial raising of the island’s flag, symbolizing the collective spirit. “Pinda Herebe”, “Kala”, “Pastechi” and other easy to grab local snacks are savored during the festivities in Briónplein, adding a touch of cultural identity and togetherness.
Curacao Day – October 10th
This national holiday celebrates the autonomy of Curacao within the Kingdom of the Netherlands since October 10th, 2010. The day is marked with artisans showcasing their artwork and products in Punda, musical bands, and friendly domino competitions. There are usually various food stalls from which you can order Curacaoan BBQ, “Pastechi”, “Bitterballen”, “Pan ku kroket”, soup, and much more!
Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas – December 5th
This Dutch tradition is celebrated by giving each other letters and coins made of chocolate while the kids leave a letter to Sinterklaas and carrots, hay, or sugar cubes in their shoes for his horse. The highlight is definitely the arrival of this legendary character at Sint Anna Bay by boat to distribute gifts to children. Other delicious Dutch treats are enjoyed, such as “Pepernoten” and “Speculaas”.
Christmas – December 25th
Christmas is a time for family gatherings, beach BBQ parties, driving around the neighborhood to admire the colorful lights, joyful music, and church mass. Families spend time at home to exchange gifts and savor traditional delights like “Oliebollen,” “Pekelé” and “Sult” (pickled salmon and herring) “Ham di Pasku,” “Ayaka,” and Ponche Crema.
New Year’s Eve and Day – December 31st and January 1st
On New Year’s Eve, Pietermaai hosts street parties and the Curacaoan tradition of “Pagara,” which involves setting off massive strings of firecrackers. At midnight, locals return home, light fireworks, and enjoy traditional New Year’s dishes like “Pekelé” and “Sult”, “Pan Será ku Stoba,” and “Pia Stinki” (goat feet). A spectacular firework show is also presented over the city center for everyone to enjoy. On New Year’s Day, many people head to Zanzibar to participate in the Unox New Year’s Dive, which is a Dutch tradition of diving into the ocean to kick off the New Year in a refreshing way.