In the late 90’s, Arubas industrious oil refinery economy had started to slow down. By 2009 the last refinery had closed and tourism flourished. This inspired the revitalization and beautification of downtown Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital. The small city of San Nicolas in the southeast corner of Aruba followed suit. It become the home to museums, festivals, and the now famous Charlie’s Bar. However, San Nicolas was having trouble getting tourist to keep returning until 5 years ago.
In 2015, local entrepreneur Oscar “Tito” Bolivar made a trip to Bogota, Colombia where he discovered a vibrant street art scene. This inspired him to bring the concept back to Aruba and create the Aruba Art Fair. Tito received support from Aruba’s Ministries of Culture and Tourism and acquired several sponsorships from local banks and businesses.
In 2016 he held the first 3 day Aruba Art Fair and invited famous international and local street artists to paint wall murals in downtown San Nicolas. Fifteen muralists showed up and put their permanent mark on the city. Aruba Art Fair is on its 5th year and there are currently over 30 murals. The art has now expanded to not just walls but benches and sculptures too. The Aruba Art Fair has triggered a burst of new businesses in San Nicolas to cater to the high tourism traffic. Tito has helped put San Nicolas on the map and created Aruba’s own exciting arts and culture district.
If you are looking to visit the murals, San Nicolas is just a 30 minute drive from Oranjestad. With other great spots like Baby Beach nearby, it is an ideal day out with the family. We encourage you to take advantage of the guided tours that are offered here. You are also welcome to take your time and explore on your own. Make sure to bring your camera!
As of right now, the Art Fair is happening September 25 -27th, 2020. If you are lucky enough to be visiting during the 3 day event check this page for visitor info. Along with the murals, the streets will be full of vendors selling art, food and drinks. It’s one of Aruba’s most exciting events you can’t miss.