For an updated list of events, and specific dates, times, and locations, contact the Aruba Tourism Authority (tel. 800/TO-ARUBA [862-7822]; www.aruba.com/ourpeopleplaces/events.aspx) or check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Dande. For almost 200 years, roaming troubadours have marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new in Aruba. As the clock strikes midnight, groups of musicians go from house to house serenading each family with good wishes for the coming year. If the dande group misses your home, you'll have nothing but bad luck in the coming year. Some families set off fireworks after they've been serenaded, and the mother of the house often sweeps out the "old spirit." January 1.
Betico Croes Day. G. F. "Betico" Croes, Aruba's seminal political leader, was instrumental in the island's fight for "Status Aparte" -- semi-independence from Holland and autonomy from the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean. Low-key patriotic observances mark the holiday. January 25.
Carnival. Highlights of Aruba's version of pre-Lenten revelry include the Children's Parade (toddlers, dwarfed by their elaborate costumes, dance down the street) and the Grand Carnival parades in Oranjestad and San Nicolas (calypso, marching, and drumming contests accompanied by monstrous sound systems). During the Tivoli Lighting Parade, thousands of miniature lights blanket the costumes and floats. Representatives of the island's various districts vie for the title of carnival queen, and unsuspecting tourists, whisked off their planes, help decide the winner. The parties, dancing, and music begin in January, culminating on the weekend before Ash Wednesday. Early January to late February.
National Anthem and Flag Day. In celebration of Aruba's flag, anthem, and autonomy, nationalistic exhibits, folkloric presentations, and fireworks displays take place islandwide. Children sing the national anthem -- on the streets, on television, and on the radio -- ad infinitum and off-key. March 18.
Queen's Birthday. To celebrate the birthday of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, kite contests, sporting events, and cultural programs are held around the island. April 30.
Aruba Food & Wine Festival. The annual food and wine tasting event features a pastry extravaganza with famous chefs showcasing their talents. This 3-day culinary event concludes with a concert highlighting the celebration of a renowned international musical band or artist. Late May/early June.
Soul Beach Music Festival. This star-studded event (www.soulbeach.net) takes place over Memorial Day weekend. Performers in the past have included Wyclef Jean, Sean Paul, Chaka Khan, and other renowned rhythm and blues performers. Held at the Havana Beach Club, this festival also includes comedy, beach parties, and plenty of nightclub action. Memorial Day weekend.
Dera Gai (St. John's Day). Centuries ago, after harvesting crops, the island's indigenous people built bonfires, and then challenged one another to jump over them. Storytelling, music, dancing, and food and drink fueled the merriment. Later a rooster was buried up to its neck and covered with a calabash gourd. Blindfolded men with sticks had three chances to "find" the rooster; the winner kept the fowl for dinner. Today a dummy rooster is used, but the music and dancing persist. Crop remnants and other disposable items are buried in a symbolic soul cleansing. June 24.
International Triathlon. Competitors from around the world participate in a triathlon including a 1.5K swim, 40K bike race, and a 10K run. More than 100 athletes usually participate in the event, hosted by the Aruba Triathlon Association. Late June/early July.
Hi-Winds World Challenge. Windsurfers and kiteboarders from multiple countries gather at Hadicurari, or Fishermen's Huts, just north of the High-Rise hotels, for one of the most popular competitions in the Caribbean (www.aruba-hiwinds.org). Late June or early July.
Aruba Music Festival, Oranjestad. Bands from around the Caribbean perform in a free concert. First week of July.
Aruba Reef Care Project. Joining forces to raise awareness of the marine environment, certified divers, snorkelers, and topsiders clean up beaches and underwater sites. First weekend in July.
Aruba International Pro-Am Golf Tournament. Professional and amateur golfers team up in this 2-day, 36-hole tournament that features prizes, special events, and parties. Late August.
Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival. This outdoor festival features international and local musicians at Cas di Cultura (www.caribbeanseajazz.com). Early September.
Annual Aruba Music Festival. This annual event features musical heavyweights -- past performers include Crosby, Stills & Nash; Jackson Brown; John Mayer; and Chicago. Columbus Day weekend.
Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta. This international catamaran regatta decorates Aruba's waters with the colorful sails of catamarans from Europe. The event represents a great opportunity for experienced yacht racers as well as recreational sailors. For more information visit www.arubaregatta.com. Early November.
Aruba Beach Tennis International Championship. Aruba is one of the first countries to host an international tournament in the new sport of beach tennis (www.arubabeachtennis.com). International beach tennis pros come down to play, and a large number of amateurs participate as well. Competitions are held at Moomba Beach. Mid-November.
Sint Nicolaas Day, Oranjestad. Sint Nicolaas arrives at Paardenbaai Harbor in Oranjestad to greet Aruba's children and reward them with gifts for their good behavior during the year. December 5.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.