Events and festivals on Bonaire
Bonaire is known for its beautiful little beaches, colorful coral reefs and charming neighborhoods. But did you know that the island also has a vibrant cultural heart? Bonaire’s events and festivals are an absolute must for visitors and locals alike. Let’s dive into Bonaire’s rich culture together. Let’s see what great happenings you can visit during your Bonaire vacation.
Bonaire is known for its beautiful little beaches, colorful coral reefs and charming neighborhoods. But did you know that the island also has a vibrant cultural heart? The events and festivals on Bonaire are always among the most sought-after vacation tips and an absolute must for visitors and locals alike. Let’s dive into Bonaire’s rich culture together. Let’s see what great happenings you can visit during your Bonaire vacation.
Bonaire’s events and holidays
On New Year’s Day, Bonaire hosts Maskarada performances at various locations. These masked revelers, who remain anonymous, perform skits and dance to traditional music. They perform up to seven times during the day and visit the retirement home and homes in North Salinja (Nort’i Saliña) and Tera Kòrá, among others. The hosts reward the Maskarada with food and drink. At the end of the day, the Maskarada are “unmasked.” If you miss the festivities on New Year’s Day, there is usually another chance to experience this unique Bonairean tradition on the Sunday after New Year’s Day.
Bonaire’s Karnaval (carnival) is the island’s most important celebration. Carnival on Bonaire carnival is a very safe event, where you as a tourist are not at risk. We like to emphasize this, because of the reputation of, for example, the South American carnivals in Rio de Janeiro. From mid-January through February-March, Bonaireans are completely immersed in this celebration. Outside these months, preparations are already in full swing in the form of clothing and floats. No expense is spared to make it a great event every year. The Bonaire Karnaval has many different parts and aspects. There are numerous parades and other celebrations such as the children’s carnival, school carnival, carnival parades and lantern parades.
2. Dia di Boneiru (Bonaire Day)
Every year on September 6, Bonaireans celebrate Dia di Boneiru, a day commemorating the discovery of the island in 1499. This is an official holiday and the entire island celebrates exuberantly.
During Dia di Boneiru, there are numerous activities, including performances, sports competitions and cultural presentations. It is a great day to experience Bonaire’s local culture and traditions. Bonaire Day is also known as Flag Day.
3. Dia di Rincon (Rincon Day)
On April 30, the former Queen’s Day, Bonaire celebrates Dia di Rincon. The village of Rincon is transformed into one big dance floor, where both young and old enjoy the festivities. Rincon is festively decorated on this day and buzzing with activities. By the way, this holiday was established in 1989 by Francisco ‘Broertje’ (little brother) Janga. With the passing of Broertje Janga, the organization of this great event now falls into the hands of Broertje Janga’s son, Francisco ‘Bubuchi’ Janga. Dia di Rincon is a perfect opportunity for guests of Bonaire, to experience the hospitality and cheerfulness of the locals.
4. Taste of Bonaire
The Taste of Bonaire events generally take place at Wilhelminaplein (Wilhelmina Square), in Kralendijk (Playa). Attracting islanders and tourists alike, this regular event lets people sample the island’s varied cuisine, larded with live music and other performances. It is the perfect place to experience Bonaire’s rich culture, including the input of all the nationalities that have contributed to the creation of our beautiful pearl of the Caribbean, which many call home.
Music plays a big role in Caribbean life. Bonaireans love to dance and sing, to make and listen to music. Festivals and concerts are unfortunately scarce today, partly due to the disappearance of the Bonaire Beach Festival (first and last edition in 2019) and the Heineken Jazz Festival Bonaire. The Bonaire Jazz Foundation organized this four-day festival every year since 2005. In 2014, unfortunately, this was for the last time.
Since 2019, the Electric Tribe Festival has been organized, with two stages – techno and urban – food and drink and other typical festival stuff.
1. Bonaire International Sailing Regatta
The Bonaire International Sailing Regatta is one of the highlights of Bonaire’s social life. The schools are closed and the island is in a great party mood. It is an international sailing regatta that takes place in October and lasts a week. It is the largest sporting event in the ABC islands and it attracts many sailors from other islands and the Netherlands. This week, the island is so full of additional visitors that all hotel rooms and other accommodations are booked up months in advance.
2. Scuba Dive Festival Bonaire
The Bonaire Dive Festival is held in Kralendijk every June. Visitors can participate daily in guided shore, and boat dives. Various side activities are organized around this event.
3. The ABC Cup of Beach Tennis
Beachtennis, organized on Bonaire by Beach Tennis Bonaire (BTB), has been growing tremendously on the island in recent years. In early 2023, the first ABC Cup was organized, where top teams from the sister islands of Curaçao and Aruba were invited and many other teams from those islands also registered. The intention is to organize this event annually and guests of the island from the Netherlands and other countries, may also participate!
Accommodations and transportation during events and festivals on Bonaire
Some events, or holidays, are busier than others, but Carnival, the Regatta and Dia di Rincon, in particular, attract a lot of extra visitors. Hotels and other accommodations are often sold out for months. Do you want to visit Bonaire especially for these events? Or do you happen to have planned your Bonaire vacation during one of the aforementioned periods? Then be on time to book your accommodations on Bonaire! The island offers a whole range of beautiful villas and cozy apartments.
There is no public transportation on Bonaire. To get to your destination during events and festivals on Bonaire, renting a car is highly recommended. The cabs on the island on these days do not have nearly enough capacity to transport everyone. Renting a scooter or bicycle is also possible, but with Bonaire’s bad roads and the rather abundant alcohol consumption on the above holidays, it may not be the safest and ideal solution.
Bonaire has much more to offer than just beautiful small beaches and clear blue waters. Bonaire’s events and festivals are unique cultural experiences not to be missed. Plan your trip to Bonaire and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and traditions of this beautiful island. For more information on events and festivals on Bonaire, visit the official websites of the organizers or the local tourist office. Here you will find up-to-date information, tips and advice to get the most out of your visit to Bonaire.