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Panama Festivals – where enjoyment mixes with the traditions of a town…

Panama festivals are both colorful and entertaining. It is impossible to count the exact number of festivals held in Panama throughout the year, especially on the Azuero Peninsula. Almost every weekend and often also on weekdays, there are celebrations, festivals and events at any of the villages. As the country is a melting pot of cultures, the different Panama festivals reflect this mixture. Some Panama festivals originate in pagan traditions whereas others clearly have a Christian origin.

Panama festivals are always full of traditions. The festivals often come with typical music and people dressed in traditional clothes: women wearing the stunning Pollera whereas men put on a white shirt with gold buttons and their Sombrero Pintao.

Another important part of Panama festivals is the traditional dances: One of the most famous dances is “El Gran Diablo” (Great Devil). This dance represents the struggle of good and evil. Another popular dance in Panama festivals, especially in the Coclé Province, is El Torito Guapo (Handsome Bull). In this dance, dirty devils, mirror devils, cuas cuas (warriors dressed in tree bark with animal masks) move to the beat of drums. El Bullerengue, El Atravesao, and the famous Congo dance – an African-colonial dance most popular on Panama’s Caribbean coast – are also part of the emotional Panamanian dances.

All Panama festivals are always full of party, music, dancing, fireworks and lots of food and drinks. But the biggest and most important of all Panama festivals is the Carnival: The Panamanian Carnival is four days of partying that ends with Ash Wednesday. This event includes amazing parades, especially in the city of Las Tablas, where the luxurious and detailed costumes of the Carnival Queens is astonishing. While the Panama Carnival is celebrated all over the country, Las Tablas and Chitre are the most popular places to experience it, but also the most crowded ones. For visitors interested in a bit a calmer and more cultural experience, the Carnival in Ocú and Parita can be recommended.

Good Friday and Easter Week are other important dates in Panamanian culture. The parades, processions and presentations around Easter are of particular interest to those who are intrigued by religious events. Other religious Panama festivals such as the Black Christ (Portobelo), Santa Librada (Las Tablas), San Juan (Chitre) as well as the Patron Saint celebrations in every village always attract a lot of Panamanians to enjoy music, dances and culinary specialties in good company.

Non-religious Panama festivals include independence days, foundation anniversaries of different cities and villages as well as fairs in honor of a special plant, music instrument or cultural event. Among this type of Panama festivals are the flower fair in Boquete, the festival of the Mejorana in Guararé, the fair of the Holy Ghost Orchid in Las Minas or the festival of Devils and Congos in Portobelo. At any of these Panama festivals it is impressive to see the locals’ dedication and pride for their traditions, roots and culture.