Aruba MainThere’s Aruba, and then there’s Aruba during Carnival. It’s a week of unforgettable festivities, culminating in the most swooned-after grand event, the Oranjestad Parade, attended by thousands.

My Aruba travel adventures had me teamed up with dear friend Amy Risley, co-creator of the travel site, A Hotel Life, to visit during Carnival. Upon our arrival, the entire island, from young to old, seemed to collectively beam with pride, excitement, downright glee, for the 60th annual Carnival, the “Diamond Jubilee.” A celebration six months in the planning, Carnival is Aruba’s national treasure, and I cannot express how it brings the island to life.

From the evening of our arrival, being electrified by a lighting parade, to the 4 a.m. “jump up” Jouvert Morning Pajama Party excursion with live music caravans parading through the small town of St. Nicholas where we were embraced by the locals, to Oranjestad, that final explosion of beads, feathers, vibrant color, and music—I was lucky to experience it all. And I can still hear the song, “Old Time Mass,” that captured me when I heard it live that first night— it was played repeatedly throughout the week, at parades, on boom boxes, and on the radio.

“Tongo Longo Tingi Lingi Tang in Tang in Tang ……Failuuuuurrrres Failuuuuurrrres Failuuuuurrrres coming down the road.”

Each year, numerous musicians submit a song to be nominated as the official Carnival song. This year, one of the contenders was an Aruba marching band geniusly named The Failures, whose riff—Tongo Longo Tingi Lingi Tang in Tang in Tang—was etched in my mind the entire visit. It was infectious, and perfectly expressed the excitement and spirit of the celebration. The name The Failures comes from their not having all the fancy electronic sounds and mixers, just live steel drums and classic marching band instruments that boom as they come down the road. Well, they won crowd favorite of the week, so I guess The Failures didn’t fail after all.

Once the festivities had concluded, I had some time to experience what locals call One happy island in a variety of quieter ways: hiking, adventure-seeking, wandering, eating, sunbathing … just taking in the dynamic culture.

One day wandering Renaissance Island’s flamingo-dotted beach, I engaged in some of my own beachside shenanigans. My group met a stunning, statuesque woman, who had marched through the streets of Oranjestad in the most spectacular headdress. Of course I couldn’t resist trying it on! And in an instant, like Dorothy donning those ruby slippers, I was once again transported, beaming, to the world of Carnival.


Blue Venetian Style Mask

Blue Venetian Style Mask

Rays Lattice High-Waisted Bikini Bottom

Rays Lattice Bikini Bottom

Essie, Aruba Blue

Essie, Aruba Blue

Mara Hoffman Bustier Top

Mara Hoffman Bustier Top

Illesteva Matte Blonde Mudoch Sunglasses

Illesteva Mudoch Sunglasses

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