The best part of any vacation is getting to experience a city as a local would. There’s no easier way to immerse yourself in Puerto Rico’s culture than by planning your vacation during one of the many festivals and holidays that are celebrated throughout the year. Here are a few of our favorite festivals and local traditions to experience first-hand on your next visit:
Fiesta de Los Reyes Magos (January 6)
The holiday season doesn't end on Christmas Day in Puerto Rico — it extends to Fiesta de Los Reyes Magos, also known as Three Kings Day, which is used to celebrate the three kings offering baby Jesus presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh 12 days after he was born. On the eve before, children write down their wishes to their favorite king and leave out treats for the kings and their camels before hitting the hay. To celebrate the day, families gather for food, exchange gifts, and watch parades.
Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián (Third Weekend of January)
Old San Juan is a city of rich culture and tradition. If planning a trip to Puerto Rico in late January, you'll get to partake in one of the largest celebrations of the year! The streets of Old San Juan are filled with local cuisine, music, arts and crafts, and more so you can enjoy traditional trinkets from local artists and artisans. There's also plenty of live music, dancing, and performances that are sure to captivate their audience!
Carnaval Ponceño (Last Week of February)
Leading up to Ash Wednesday, Puerto Ricans celebrate Carnaval Ponceño with an abundance of colorful parades, dancing, live music, and celebration. During the festivities, you'll see long-snouted vejigantes and witness the coronation of the Carnival Queen. To top it all off, there is even a masquerade ball! After the week-long festival, the locals attend the Burial of the Sardine that marks the beginning of Lent.
Festival de la Piña Paradisíaca (June 7 - June 9)
What’s not to love about pineapple? If you’re a fan of the sweet fruit, you may want to head on down to Puerto Rico in early June for the Festival de la Piña Paradisíaca — also known as the Pineapple Festival! From vendors selling locally grown pineapples to live music and dancing, there’s no sweeter way to celebrate like a local or tourist.
Noche de San Juan (June 23)
Noche de San Juan, otherwise referred to as Saint John’s Eve, celebrates the nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Unlike other festivals and traditions that are centered around food, you’ll find hundreds of people crowding the shores of the sandy white beaches to celebrate Saint John’s Eve at midnight. When the clock strikes twelve, you jump back into the ocean seven times to receive good luck!
Nochebuena (December 24)
The holidays are a family-filled time in Puerto Rico. On Christmas Eve, known as Nochebuena, families, and friends come together to celebrate the evening by eating traditional meals like lechón and Arroz con gandules (roast pork and rice with pigeon peas), drinking coquito, and singing trullas. There's no better way to get into the holiday mood than celebrating Nochebuena.
Festival de las Máscaras de Hatillo (December 28)
Did you know that Puerto Rico has its own version of April Fool's Day — that isn't in April! The festival de las Máscaras de Hatillo is celebrated in the town of Hatillo, where you'll find locals showing off colorful and extravagant ensembles while riding atop a float in a parade.
Need help planning your next vacation to Puerto Rico? I can help you navigate the planning and offer recommendations that will allow you to immerse yourself within the local community and culture. Just click below to schedule a 15-20 minute initial call with me! Or email me at email@example.com.