The Top 6 Panama Festivals You Cannot Miss

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The Top 6 Panama Festivals You Cannot Miss

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Panama is filled with rich history and traditions that are celebrated in various festivals each year. However, if you aren’t aware beforehand, you might miss interesting opportunities to celebrate Panamanian culture. This list is by no means comprehensive of all the festivals in Panama, but here are some of my favorite ones:

6. Feria del Mar

Bocas Del Toro’s Feria del Mar, has evolved into a four-day event that draws thousands of people to the archipelago each mid-September to celebrate the fishermen and the sea. With the perfect mix of sun, sand, thrill rides, seafood, watersports and local arts and crafts, people from all around descent upon Bocas to partake in this incredible event paying homage to the enchanting Caribbean Sea. An yes, partying to the rhythm of Calypso, Roots, Reggae, Bachata, Salsa, Merengue and many other tropical tunes until the sun comes out is the norm. Every single day.

5. Panama Jazz Festival

Every January, Panama welcomes summer with the Panama Jazz Festival. The festival attract international artists, cantering Panama City in the world jazz,. The festival is the most important annual event held by the Danilo Pérez Foundation committed to positively transforming society through music. The week-long event includes free shows, classes, concerts, and educational activities centered around music and culture. This year, the four time Grammy award winning artist, Esperanza Spalding, headlined the events.

4. Boquete Coffee and Flower Festival

Feria de boquete 2017

A photo posted by Feria De Las Flores Y El Café (@feriadeboquete17) on

Already enchanting, Boquete blooms every January with the Boquete Flower and Coffee Festival on the banks of the Caldera River. This ten day floral extravaganza featuring the coveted coffee from Boquete, artisans crafts, and flowers of course, has been held in Boquete since 1984 with the goal of contributing to the development of agricultural, commercial, tourist, artisan and cultural production of Panama. The fair includes folkloric groups from Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, Panama as well as local bands and singers. However, it is the stunning array of flowers on display as far as the eye can see that almost a hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Sunday, January 22, 2012

 

3. Pollera Festivals

The Pollera - a large, intricately designed skirt associated with Panamanian folklore dances - has become a symbol of national pride in Panama. The annual Pollera Festival in Las Tablas in July (though tourism authorities seem to be changing it as of late) highlights the history and craftsmanship behind this national costume. Hundreds of participants in their extravagant costumes and hairdos compete in the categories of best cross stitch, embroidery, chalk, shadow, regional gala and Montuna. The contest culminates with the crowning of a queen and a parade marking the end of the festival.

Not to be neglected is the biannual Festival de la Pollera Conga which celebrates the country’s African heritage and the origin of the Pollera as a type of brightly colored skirt originally made when by enslaved Africans in the Portobelo region who stitched fabrics together. The festival highlights Portobelo’s culture with a boat parade through Portobelo’s bay, a parade of Polleras congas, traditional food and music, and the crowning of the Congo Queen at the town’s central plaza.

2. Festival de Diablos y Congos de Portobelo

In AfroPanamanian folklore, the diablo is said to be a representation of ferociousness of slave masters. Once every 2 years, hundreds of diablos parade through the streets of the colonial city of Portobelo in March in terrifying masks inspired by animals, devils, demons, witches, the darkness of the mask symbolizing how long the wearer has been participating in this tradition. The crowds cheer and revel in the sound of the congo drums and dance alongside the diablos, making it a festival fit for the entire family.

1. Carnivals

Diablos on Main Street of Bocas Town during Carnivals
Diablos on Main Street of Bocas Town during Carnivals. Photo by 1stclassfrance

Carnival is a big deal in Panama; however, unlike other Carnivals, you can wear what you want and most events are free. Panama celebrates Carnival, the four days preceding the Catholic season of Lent. What is unique about Carnival here is that every city brings it own twists and traditions to the practice. Panama City holds a Sunday afternoon “pollera” parade. In Las Tablas, two historically rivaling neighborhoods: Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo hold a fued for the most beautiful Carnival queen and the most elaborate floats steals the show. In Bocas del Toro (click here and here to read about my experience last year...) and Colon, the diablos and congo drums strike fear and glee into the hearts of onlookers. Concerts often go on into the night as people dance in the street in every city. No matter which city you decide to celebrate Carnival in, a culeco, a cistern truck with a fire hose, awaits you on most major streets to spray revelers with water and help you cool down from the hot sun. Smiling people spray each other with water guns and dump buckets of water on passersby. Just before sunrise on Ash Wednesday, the Carnival queen leads a symbolic funeral procession known as the Burial of the Sardine to mark the end of Carnival.

Panama's people are very happy people and like to celebrate life and party. If you're vacationing Panama, try to experience one of its festivals. Need even more reasons to travel Panama and learn Spanish? Click here for the Top 10 Reasons to Join Habla Ya!

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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