Connected to the main city of Punda by a floating bridge, I leave the famous Dutch street façade captured in every photo of Curaçao and enter another world of back alleys and narrow streets, a labyrinth of life against a palate of colonial architecture in various stages of renovation and beauty at every turn. All too soon, daylight colors burst into evening festivities. 

Once upon a time, Otrobanda faced its fair share of troubles, poverty, and decay, but despite the challenges, locals with vision, determination and helping hands have restored its charm and reclaimed its vibrancy. They embarked on a glow-up journey, breathing new life into its streets and buildings. In the last decade Otrobanda has become such a lively place! But the best part isn’t just the physical transformation – it’s the energy in the air and the warmth of the community.

Thousands of visitors flock to Otrobanda to immerse themselves in the spirited atmosphere of the fifth edition of Kaya Kaya Festival. As they wandered through the picturesque streets, they were greeted by the stunning murals that adorn the buildings. Each mural telling a unique story, showcasing the rich history and cultural diversity of this colourful neighborhood. Talented local artists participate in Kaya Kaya Festival to showcase their creative endeavors. Their works of art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to installations and performing art, captivate the imagination of all who experienced this event. This festival provides a much-needed opportunity for artists to connect with a larger audience and gain recognition for their talents. 

The pop-up galleries scattered throughout Otrobanda were a true highlight of the festival. People flocked to these galleries all week long, eager to see the new artworks on display. These temporary art spaces, set up in vacant properties, allowed artists to exhibit their works to a even broader audience. Their doors were open not just during the festival but throughout the entire week, allowing art enthusiasts, tourists and locals to explore and appreciate the artwork at their own leisure.

The galleries became a hub of creativity and conversation, fostering a sense of community among locals and visitors alike. Quintastraat was bustling with art houses, displaying a variety of superbe artworks. Aemy Niafeliz, a multi-talented artist, created a stunning mural depicting musician and singer-songwriter Kimu Candelaria (1915-1994) with the lyrics of his famous song ‘Para Pretu’. The buildings of Keizershof were transformed into exhibition facades and spaces for artists. Another remarkable addition to the streets of Otrobanda is Francis Sling’s most recent masterpiece and Curaçao’s largest mural to date, known as Djòsa. This awe-inspiring artwork is impossible to miss. Sling wields his brush skillfully to convey his vibrant and poetic expressions on canvas or any surface that captivates his imagination.

This event is not just a typical festival, but a movement that aims to promote and empower local artists, celebrate different cultures, and bring life to the stories and heritage of the community. Whether you are a longtime resident or a first-time visitor, Kaya Kaya invites you to immerse yourself in the energetic atmosphere, become part of this incredible journey, and join us in uniting with love for Otrobanda.