Island Events by the Month

January ~ Maskarada Returns to Bonaire
The island is bustling with visitors these holiday weeks, and those who made the trek to spend New Year’s on Bonaire are in for a treat, as January 1st hearkens the return of the Maskarada (Masqueraders). On New Year’s Day, as well as Sunday, January 3rd, 2016, the Maskarada, made up of a group of musicians and masked characters, will take to the streets of Bonaire! It’s tradition that the Maskarada begin on New Year’s Day serenading and entertaining Bonaire’s Lt. Governor, but then after that, they will have two full days of visiting families in various neighborhoods of Bonaire. Those that follow the Maskarada will enjoy the traditional song that always forecasts the masked characters’ arrival. Then, the colorfully clad characters arrive amid of burst of energy! While they play out certain skits, not a word is said. They are fully costumed, so no one knows their identities. That is, until the end of the day, when they are finally unmasked, and we learn just who has been entertaining us all day!

January 14 to 16 ~ Fishing Tournament
Every year, Bonaire hosts The International & Local Fishing Tournament. This year 2016 will mark the 28th year that Bonaire has hosted it. It boasts over $15,000 in prizes, besides being a lot of fun! On the 3rd Saturday of the month, there will be a Ship-to-Shore Boat Party for those who want to party or just relax after a great day of fishing.

January 30 ~ Lora Count
On the morning of Saturday, January 30th, 2016, Bonaire will host its annual Lora count. Volunteers are welcome to help in this very important, and fun event! If you have not participated before, never fear! There will be a pre-count meeting on Wednesday the 27th to explain what it is, how it's done and why it is done.

February ~ Karnival Days
Each year, just before the beginning of Lent, Bonaire celebrates Karnival. Everyone on Bonaire is treated to quite a show when the Children’s Karnival Parade dances its way through Kralendijk. The Grand Karnival Parade will be held on a Saturday in Rincon and on Sunday in Kralendijk.

March ~ Kite Flying Contest
It’s an annual springtime tradition on Bonaire; Kite Beach, a/k/a Atlantis, will explode with activity as kitemanera comes to Bonaire. Kitemanera is a two-day event begins on Saturday March 19 at 10:30 am with the signature event known as the “Costume Race” where all participants complete a long distance race while dressed in original and colorful costumes. After this opening event, a competition that will evaluate freestyle skills, the height of jumps, the complexity of tricks, landings and style. Saturday at 4:30 is the Freestyle Pro event, open to all international and local pro kiters. On Sunday, a Down-Winder event to Klein Bonaire will begin at 12:30 pm. On conclusion of both days of events will be parties and festivities on Coco Beach.

March ~ Simadan Harvest Festival
March is also Simadan (Harvest) Festival Rincon. Simadan stems from Bonaire's slave days and celebrates the growing season's harvest (typically March/April). The festive harvest celebration in Bonaire varies from other places, perhaps, as a direct result of the way slaves on Bonaire were treated. Bonaire's slaves grew crops for owners and some were permitted personal crops as well, a "liberty" not usually afforded to slaves elsewhere. Personal gains gave Bonairean slaves reason to celebrate at Simadan, while slaves in Curacao, for example, witnessed harvest going only to the owners and lamented instead. After Bonaire's slavery abolition in 1863, most slaves received land. Together, families took turns helping to harvest and celebrating the crops throughout Simadan. Similarly today, families and friends gather to help harvest sorghum and maize, while the farmer supplies food and drink (rum) for the party.

April 27 to 30 ~ Rincon Days
All the people of Bonaire have a day off work and schools are closed on April 30. Everyone goes to Rincon; it is the only day in the year that people without licenses to trade can sell things on the street. Some people set up stalls to sell second-hand goods. Others set up stalls to sell traditional food and drink. There is a lot of busking and official musical performances on Queen's Day, April 27. Many people spontaneously sing "Het Wilhelmus". This is a poem written in 1574 and describes the life of William of Orange (William the Silent) and his fight for the Dutch people. It is written as if William of Orange is introducing himself to the Dutch people. Rincon Days is also Queen's Day, the Queen's official birthday and the anniversary of her coronation.

May ~ Windsurfing Competition
ProKids Freestyle and Slalom Windsurfing Competition takes place at Bonaire's famed windsurfing location, Sorobon at Lac Bay. The event will attract the sport's youth from both Bonaire and around the world. Join all the people who help the young and talented windsurfers to grow and follow their passion!

June 10 to 14 ~ Defi Wind
The world famous wind & kite event “Defi Wind” is starting a brand new Defi Wind contest in the Caribbean. Le Defi Wind is a spectacular sport event which has its origin in Gruissan, France. Founded in 2001 and now the biggest gathering of competing windsurfers ever! World known for the spectacular start of the race, where over 1300 surfers and kiters start at the same time, on the same line. This year for the first time in Bonaire from June 10 to 14.

June 16 to 19 ~ Sorobon Masters
Sorobon Masters was started in 2014 as an event to give amateur windsurfers of all ages the opportunity to compete with professionals and now has become a major windsurf event. Sorobon Masters is a unique Freestyle and Slalom event on Bonaire. Both professionals and amateurs of all ages are welcome to compete in their own category.

June ~ Washington Park Open House
It’s an annual tradition for STINAPA to hold an annual open house at Washington-Slagbaai National Park. Admission to the park on this day is free, and there are plenty of activities to keep one occupied from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. As usual, there will be a variety of food and beverages available. The kid’s corner will be present again, as well, with the very popular face-painting. STINAPA will host a guided hiking trip for adults at 8:00 AM through Mondi Suit and a mountain bike race starting at 7:30 AM. For those who don’t want to traverse through the entire park, there is transportation available to Slagbaai at 9:00 AM then again at 12:00 Noon. At 3:00 PM, transportation is available to bring everyone back from Slagbaai. Local bands will be making music for anyone who just wants to dance starting at 1:00 PM. There is a market specializing in local food and handicrafts. It’s a great day to come out, meet your neighbors and friends you haven’t seen, and enjoy the day. Have you ever experienced sunset from the top of Brandaris, the highest point of Bonaire? STINAPA has guided tours, just contact them through their website.

July ~ ProKids Windsurfing 2016
Taking place at Sorobon Beach, the 12th edition of Prokids Windsurfing will be from July 29th to 31st. These three days revolve around windsurfing competitions for both professional and amateur children.

August ~ Jazz Festival
The Bonaire Jazz Foundation is an initiative of people from all walks of life who live on Bonaire and love Jazz in all contemporary forms. The Bonaire Jazz Foundation started in 2005 with local artists and international artists. Bonaire will change into one big jazz venue.

September ~ Bonaire Day
Bonaire’s Flag Day is celebrated each year in September, and the festivities rotate into different barrios, or neighborhoods, every year. This year’s celebration will be held in North Salina. This year’s theme is “Maintaining Identity” and the holiday commemorates the day way back in 1499 when Amerigo Vespucci first set foot on Bonaire. Bonaire Day is an important day for all Bonaireans, as it’s a time when the local culture and way of life can be renewed and celebrated. The Motorcycle event is also one of the major highlights of this day where over 400 participants with their motorcycles are flown in from around the world and take a tour of the island as part of the national flag day ceremony.

September ~ Cadushy Bonaire International Dance Festival
The 6th Cadushy Bonaire International Dance Festival will be taking place from September 4th to September 11th, 2016.

September ~ Free Diving
Bonaire will once again host the 2016 Deepsea Challenge Free Diving event for nine days of world-class competitive free diving activities from September 2 through 10, 2016. Bonaire's own Carlos Coste, and Marina Kazankova, from Russia, will attempt the Longest Horizontal Free Dive in an ocean environment.

October ~ Duo Xtreme Mountain Bike Competition
The Duo Xtreme Mountain Bike Race attracts cyclists from many areas. They all gather together in the predawn hours readying themselves for the upcoming starting gun.

October ~ Swim to Klein
Swim to Klein Bonaire. Last year, almost 500 people swam to Klein Bonaire and most of them swam back as well. The event will be held at Eden Beach Resort/Spice Beach Club, which is the starting point. As usual, this fun and well attended event kicks off the festivities of the Bonaire Sailing Regatta. Included is a free lunch meal, a drink, a piece of fruit, and the best part of all; The event t-shirt.

October ~ 49th Annual Sailing Regatta
It's time for Regatta-Frenzy! From October 13th through October 15th, Bonaire will once again be in a frenzy! Regatta-frenzy, that is! Racing for a few cases of beer... 2016 brings the 49th annual edition of this much-loved Bonaire event, which historically began with a sailing race between Captain Don and Ismael, a Bonairean fisherman with the winner pulling in a few cases of beer.

November 21 ~ Sanikolas
On Saturday Sint Nicholaas (Sanikolas) and his assistants, the Black Piets (Swarte Pieten), arrived in Bonaire aboard The Good Return charter boat. The Swarte Pieten cavorted through the crowd, dancing, swinging their sacks and ropes, teasing the children and throwing candies. Sint Nicholaas history lies in Dutch folklore and tradition, originating more than 600 years ago when the Bishop of Madrid, Spain, gave gifts to everyone on his birthday, December 6. This bishop, it is said, originally came from Turkey with his helpers who were black (Swarte). At that time Holland was ruled by Spain, so when Sint Nicholaas comes he arrives from Spain by boat.

December 15 ~ Kingdom Day
Koninkrijksdag (Papiamento: Dia di Reino, English: Kingdom Day) is the commemoration of the signing of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15 1954. The Koninkrijks concert (English: Kingdom Concert) is held annually on December 15, to celebrate the relationship between Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles,Aruba and the BSE islands (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius).

December ~ Bari Festival Period
The season Bari, from late November lasting until the end of the year, was a depiction of the gossipy news and events displayed by different music and songs. The Bari is an African style drum (different than Maskarada) constructed with a barrel base and a stretched sheepskin top. Called Tambu in Curacao, Bonaireans called it Bari, after the rum ‘barrel’ used in the making. In addition to the Bari, slaves used a ukulele, guitar and a wiri to broadcast the news. A wiri is a piece of metal with notches played by sliding a stick on top. Today, as the musicians are brought drinks of rum, the year's events are put to song and the musicians playfully banter back and forth while friends and family listen and enjoy.