Big City Sounds with a Caribbean Twist at the Aruba Music Festival
By Justin Burch
As an island known for its vibrant tropical energy and diverse entertainment options, Aruba is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean to experience live music. The capital city of Oranjestad is known as a hotbed of Caribbean jazz and latin music, as numerous clubs and concert halls host live bands throughout the year. Even outside the main tourist areas of Oranjestad, live music can be heard in restaurants and on the beaches. The island is also home to major music festivals, the Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival - an annual event held each May that showcases internationally-renowned soul and R&B artists - and the Aruba Music Festival - a two-day festival that welcomes top-selling classic rock groups, up-and-coming superstars and lesser-known regional artists. While events like the Aruba Music Festival are staged throughout the world, few festivals can boast the event's unique combination of big-city entertainment and inviting Caribbean atmosphere.
Though only in its 8th official season, the Aruba Music Festival has already lured an incredible array of top-selling performers. Prior to becoming the Aruba Music Festival, the event was known as the Aruba Jazz and Latin Festival. Developed in the 1980s to showcase the Caribbean region's rich musical tradition, the Aruba Jazz and Latin Festival was expanded and renamed in 2002. Though the Aruba Music Festival was created as a way to present top international touring acts, the festival has remained true to its roots and continues to offer performances by jazz and latin artists from throughout the Caribbean region.
While the lineup for this year's festival has not yet been announced, the event is sure to feature famous classic rock acts, as well as many local, regional and up-and-coming international performers. In recent years, headlining acts at the Aruba Music Festival have included well-known classic rock bands such as Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Queen and Crosby Stills and Nash. The festival has also lured several internationally-recognized singer-songwriters such as Lionel Richie, Jackson Browne and contemporary favorite, John Mayer. Before the headliners take the stage each day at the Aruba Music Festival, the side stage heats up with a diverse array of musical styles, most provided by groups specialized in dance-friendly Caribbean genres.
The Aruba Music Festival takes place each year at the state-of-the-art Aruba Entertainment Center. The spacious outdoor venue allows concert-goers to enjoy the cool evening weather in a scenic setting located only five minutes drive from downtown Oranjestad and fifteen minutes drive from the island's Hotel Zone. The Aruba Entertainment Center offers superior acoustics and the open, but intimate design ensures that all concert-goers have excellent views of the main stage. The venue features large general admission and open grass areas that allow concert-goers to stretch out on blankets and enjoy a relaxing, picnic-like experience, while those that prefer reserved seats will find excellent views near the stage. Behind the seating areas, a number of concession stands serve up food and drinks, including local brews and snacks.
As the Aruba Music Festival is staged just before the beginning of the peak tourism season, budget-conscious travelers visiting the island prior to the winter holidays are granted an excellent opportunity to experience the island's vibrant music scene. Tourists visiting Aruba during the fall season will also be assured of excellent weather, as the island falls outside the storm belt that affects many Caribbean islands.
The Aruba Music Festival will take place this year on the weekend of October 9-10. After this year's schedule of headlining acts is developed, updates about the festival can be found on Aruba's official tourism website (www.aruba.com). As the schedule will appear prominently in local travel publications, travelers can also contact their resort for more details about the festival.
Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Aruba for the Marriott Resorts.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.