Canaval in Panama!
Finding a reason to celebrate in Panama is not difficult. Most festivities are filled with family, fun, food, loud music, and fireworks. As a primarily Catholic country, religious holidays are very important. One of the most popular celebrations related to religious beliefs and culture is the Carnival of Panama. It is one of the longest and largest celebrations of pageantry, folklore, and parades in the world.
The massive celebrations commence four days before Ash Wednesday. This year in Panama it takes place February. Most businesses, including the government, close down during these boisterous days and nights of music, dancing and drinking in the streets, parades, confetti, floats, costumes, and glamorous queens. For the crowd, “Mojadera”, getting drenched with water, is a welcome carnival tradition during the tropical days.
One of the festivities include a ‘pollera’ parade midday on Sunday. Polleras are the national costume of Panama used mostly for festivities and folklore. Hundreds of women stroll and dance in their beautifully decorated dress of many colors, designs and styles, accented with gorgeous jewelry and a headdress called a tembleque.
Panama City has the most elaborate Carnival celebration which takes place on the Cinta Costera, the park area. You will find the annual Carnival Queen and her court, floats, live bands and parades. The second largest celebration takes place in Las Tablas, a small town located 130 miles west of Panama City. A traditional rivalry between “Calle Arriba” (high street) and “Calle Abajo” (low street) occurs as each side has chosen their own queen who competes to triumph over the other for the most extravagant costumes, most creative floats, music, dances and fireworks. Family members and friends of the Queen spend the whole year before Carnival collecting and saving money for this event. Imagine the investment it takes to become a Queen!
Almost every town in Panama hosts their own carnival celebration. Some are better known, attract more people, and are larger and crazier than others. Carnival in Panama will be memorable regardless the city you celebrate in.