From Dutch classics like embroidered linens, Delft earthenware, and cheeses to local artwork and handicrafts, shopping in Willemstad can turn up some fun finds. But don't expect major bargains on watches, jewelry, or electronics; Willemstad is not a duty-free port (the few establishments that claim to be "duty-free" are simply absorbing the cost of some or all of the tax rather than passing it on to consumers) however, if you come prepared with some comparison prices, you might still dig up some good deals. But there are new complexes out of downtown now for ultimate retail therapy—Curaçao Beach Boulevard has an eclectic collection of trendy shops at the Sea Aquarium Park and the brand-new Sambil megamall is a massive multilevel shopping and entertainment complex in Veeris Commerical Park with hundreds of modern stores and trendy boutiques.
The year's big event is
, which concludes on Ash Wednesday; it's among the Caribbean's best parties and is beginning to draw visitors in larger numbers.The Curacao International Jazz Festival is held in May.
The Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival
occurs in early September and features international stars of jazz and pop. Past performers include John Legend, Simply Red, and George Benson.
The Heiniken Regatta Curacao
features exciting boat races and musical events in November.Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2015, Curacao's Carnival has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and now the outrageous costumes, blowout parades, pulsating Tumba rhythms, mini-processions known as jump-ups, and frenetic energy that sparks a frenzy in the streets make it one of the best in the Caribbean. And the season lasts longer here than on many other islands. Revelries begin at New Year's and continue until midnight the day before Ash Wednesday. One highlight is the Tumba Festival (dates vary), a four-day musical event featuring fierce competition between local musicians for the honor of having their piece selected as the official road march during parades. For the Grand Parade, space is rented along the route and people mark their territory by building wooden stands, some lavishly decorated and furnished. Visitors are also invited to be part of the Grand Parade and the Farewell Parade if they submit particpations forms ahead at the main Carnival organization website.