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The Best Music Festivals of Aruba

6/26/2015 - By Carrie Thompson

The Best Music Festivals of Aruba

Whether you’re a vacationing tourist soaking up the tropical sun or an island native looking to turn up the weekend heat, these music festivals deliver electrifying entertainment set against the idyllic backdrop of Aruba’s pristine beaches, sweeping seaside views, world-class nightlife and thriving arts scene.

Upcoming Festivals

Aruba Summer Music Festival -- June 26 & 27, 2015:

This event, taking place at the Harbor Square Arena, blends exotic Latin flair with laidback island vibes. The multi-cultural lineup includes both local Caribbean artists and international headliners such as Cuban-influenced rapper Pitbull, Colombian singer-songwriter Carlos Vives, Puerto Rican salsa sensation Jerry Rivera, reggaeton hitmaker Nicky Jam, and Latin Grammy Award-winner Elvis Crespo. Featuring a wide range of genres and eclectic beats, this festival appeals to various musical tastes that will have audiences dancing up and down the aisles.

Electric Festival -- September 3-6, 2015:

This 3rd annual event, also taking place at the Harbor Square Arena, represents a creative intersection between Central and South America. The 4-day extravaganza features cutting-edge industry seminars, Q&A sessions with music game-changers and trendy pop-up parties, all culminating in Aruba’s largest outdoor music festival. Attendees will enjoy an uptempo fusion of Latin and Caribbean electronic dance rhythms, while rubbing elbows with some of the world’s foremost DJs, producers, label executives, and even up-and-comers on the indie scene.

Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival -- September 25 & 26, 2015:

This event, taking place at the Renaissance Marketplace, combines diverse music styles with a vibrant atmosphere, friendly bars and food stands serving local fare. A unique medley of jazz, soul, funk and Latin sounds will fill the balmy night air, creating a one-of-a-kind festival experience. In addition, audiences can look forward to this year’s headlining acts: Grupo Niche, an internationally touring salsa band, and Earth, Wind & Fire Experience, a Los Angeles-based group known for reviving their namesake’s iconic hits for a new generation of fans.

Dande Music Festival -- December 27 & 28, 2015:

This event, whose location has yet to be announced, is Aruba’s most celebrated musical tradition, historically observed to ring in the New Year. “Dande” refers to a troupe of wandering musicians who travel from door-to-door spreading cheer with infectious tunes. In the spirit of this meaningful custom, the annual festival invites people of all ages to join the revelry, with the first day devoted to children and the second day reserved for adults. Attendees just won’t be able to resist tapping along with native island instruments such as the tambu, wiri and raspa.

Weekly Festivals

Bon bini Festival -- Tuesday Evenings, 6:30-8:30 PM:

This event, taking place in downtown Oranjestad, pays tribute to song and dance from time-honored Caribbean folklore. These warm, welcoming reverberations call to mind the distinct history, flavors and cadences this tropical paradise has to offer. Both locals and visitors alike are encouraged to come together and salsa the night away in the open-air courtyard of Fort Zoutman, Aruba’s oldest building. Admittance is only $5, so this weekly music festival is an affordable, entertaining way to become richly immersed in the culture’s creative roots.

Carubbian Festival -- Thursday Evenings, 6-10:30 PM:

This event, taking place in San Nicolas’ southern tip, brings the energy of the internationally renowned Carnavale celebration to life. Although the actual Carnavale only occurs once a year, its trademark pomp and ceremony can now be enjoyed every week. This festival showcases live music, artisan crafts, traditional cuisine, and exotically costumed stilt walkers and street performers. Family friendly activities attract a diverse crowd of native islanders and tourists from around the globe, producing a colorful melting pot in Aruba’s “Sunrise City.”

Aruba Sinatra Show -- Thursday Evenings, 7:30-10 PM:

This event, taking place at the Old Cunucu House, transports the legendary croonings of Frank Sinatra to the tropics. Preeminent vocalist Fred de Jong serenades audiences with such favorites as “Luck Be a Lady,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Fly Me to the Moon.” Guests are wined and dined while listening to this resonant voice and world-class orchestra recreate Sinatra’s big band classics. Tickets cost $15 per person (food, drinks and gratuity not included), making this dinner show the perfect option for a romantic date that won’t break the bank.

Music Festivals in 2016

Grand Final Tumba Contest -- January 24, 2016:

This event, taking place at the Piedra Plat Entertainment Center, gives local bands and musicians an opportunity to compete for the Tumba King or Queen title. These emergent talents will perform their original compositions live in front of an audience, keeping the island’s dynamic arts appreciation alive and well. This music festival is named after the ritualistic Afro-Caribbean tambu drum, whose eclectic rhythms characterize Aruba’s annual Carnavale. Highlights of this contest include community bonding, spirited competition and extraordinary vocals.

International Jazz Day -- April 30, 2016:

This event, taking place at the Renaissance Marketplace, perpetuates the global jazz movement to unite different nationalities through this transcendent genre. In recognition of this initiative, Aruba plans to present a free concert that will expose attendees from various backgrounds to jazz’s timeless, fluid and cross-cultural chords. The featured entertainer at this festival will be Leona Helm, a distinguished jazz expert who holds a Master’s degree in music performance. This lively evening is open to the public and supports worldwide artistic collaboration.

Soul Beach Music Festival -- May 20-25, 2016:

This event, taking place at the Harbour Arena, is a multi-faceted experience offering live jam sessions, beach parties, club raves and comedy shows in one sizzling bash. It doesn’t get much better than an oceanfront music festival on white sandy shores. Even celebrities attend this soulful spectacle that tops the list of Jetsetter Magazine’s “Best Caribbean Summer Festivals” and lands the fourth slot on USA Today’s “10 Caribbean Celebrations” countdown. International headlining acts will rock the stage during these five nonstop days of fun in the sun.

Music is intrinsically connected to the vibrant, lighthearted Aruban lifestyle. As you can see, this island oasis boasts such a versatile festival scene that the entertainment options are virtually endless. Many even occur continually throughout the year, so regardless of your budget, schedule or musical preference, Aruba has a festival that will fit perfectly into your travel plans.

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