Top Festivals and Events in Puerto Rico

By Aaditee Kulkarni on Mar 07, 2018
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Festivals and Events in Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico is an archipelago among the Greater Antilles that is made of the main island and many little neighboring islands. When it comes to the culture of this country, Puerto Rico has time and again seen a rich and unique blend of cultural forerunners; the South Americans, North Americans, Europeans, and Africans, in that order. Today, the island country is dominated by Cubans and Dominicans, who are known to celebrate life like no other.

While you are here, this little country has many festivals and events that are just as vibrant and encaptivating. Here is a mix of art and cultural festivals, Music & Dance Festivals, Culinary Festivals and major Sporting Events happening in Puerto Rico that must not be missed on your next trip!

Art & Cultural Festivals

Art & Cultural Festivals of Puerto Rico

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1. Three Kings Day

A Christmas counterpart, Three Kings Day, or El Dia de los Reyes is an extension of Christmas celebrations, that last way up to January 6th. The day marks as a celebration when the three kings: Melchor (representing Europe), Gaspar (representing Arabia) and Balthazar (representing Africa) visited Jesus Christ. These kings brought with them a lot of gifts, and hence this festival is rather popular among the young Puerto Ricans as they receive a lot of gifts on this day. As for the older ones, it is just another reason to party.  

Where: Islandwide

When: 6 January

2. San Sebastián Street Festival

The San Sebastián Street Festival, or the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, is one of the most loved festivals of Puerto Rico. “Cabezudos” (huge mask) make their way through the streets while representing the popular Puerto Rican folklore. The people join them with many streets dancing and singing performances. 

Where: Old San Juan

When: Mid-January

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3. Carnival Ponceño

Held annually in Ponce, the history of this festival goes back 250 years. You see locals take to the streets with some of the best music, dance and artistry performances the country has ever seen. One of the highlights of the festival is the costume of "vejigantes," that represents the evil. With an estimated 100,000 attendees, the Carnaval de Ponce occurs simultaneously with the Mardi Gras of New Orleans and Carnival of Rio de Janeiro.

Where: Ponce

When: February

4. Emancipation Day

For almost 350 years, slavery was legal in Puerto Rico. On March 22, 1873, the Spanish National Assembly abolished slavery in the country, hence bringing in a new era. Emancipation Day brings in festivities that include music, food, and lots of dancing. 

Where: Islandwide

When: 22 March

5. Aibonito Flower Festival

Aibonito Flower Festival celebrates mini-sunflowers, white daisies, and pink asters, along with a million other flowers and plants that go on sale. Celebrated in the mountain town of Aibonito, this festival has live music, food kiosks, and larger-than-life floral displays. 

Where: Aibonito

When: Last week June to the first week July

6. La Raza Day (Columbus Day)

‘Columbus Day’ or ‘Día de la Raza’ marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. More than 500 years later, this day is celebrated throughout the Americas signifying the bond between Spain and her sister-nations. On the island of Puerto Rico, this day is no less than a grand celebration. Also celebrated as the ‘Puerto Rico Friendship Day,’ the people of the island take a look back at the country’s Hispanic heritage through the means of ethnic and cultural celebrations.

Where: Islandwide

When: October

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7. Puerto Rico Discovery Day

On 19th November, while on his second voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Puerto Rico. Celebrated as a national holiday, this day sees a joyous celebration and many parades that rediscovers the island’s culture and heritage. 

Where: Islandwide

When: 19 November

8. Puerto Rico Heritage Artisans Fair

Celebrated on the grounds of the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park, the Puerto Rico Heritage Artisans Fair is one of the largest artisan fairs in Puerto Rico. With more than 100 artisans participating to display their works, this fair sees the best of crafts, homeware, paintings, music, and food from all over the island. 

Where: San Juan

When: December 12 and 13

9. Hatillo Masks Festival

The coastal town of Hatillo is known to celebrate the Máscaras Festival where the entire village is known to join the celebrations. The festival marks the remembrance of the Christian martyrs or the Holy Innocents. The inhabitants of the village dress up, from head to toe, and wear colorful masks before parading through Hatillo and the surrounding villages of Camuy and Arecibo. 

Where: Hatillo

When: December 28

Music & Dance Festivals

Music & Dance Festivals in Puerto Rico

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10. Casals Festival

Casals is a classical music event that honors renowned cello player, Pablo Casals. Initially started in 1956 to promote tourism in Puerto Rico, this festival continues even today. After his death in 1973, it was Casals’s widow, Marta Casals who carried forward with the tradition. 

Where: San Juan

When: February

11. Puerto Rican Danza Week

Also called the Fiesta Nacional de la Danza, this festival celebrates a native dance form called the Danza. This week-long dance fest sees many local artists showcase their talents on a national level. 

Where: Ponceños

When: May

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12. Heineken JazzFest

One of the leading festivals in Puerto Rico and also one of the most loved festivals in the Caribbean, the Heineken JazzFest sees world-renowned Jazz artists come to Puerto Rico to celebrate music. While the emphasis is Latin Jazz, you will also find many local Puerto Rican music styles played here. 

Where: San Juan

When: May through June

13. International Salsa Congress

Held annually and lasting for two weeks, the International Salsa Congress brings together salsa lovers from around the world. The event sees many live performances and of course, a cutthroat dance competition. One of the best events in San Juan, this festival brings out some of the best social dancing moves. 

Where: San Juan

When: July

14. Loíza Carnival

The town of Loíza lits up and people come out on the streets to honor their beloved saint, St. James - the Apostle. The carnival-like celebrations include many colorful costumes, parades, live music, dance, and good food. A beautiful amalgamation of Spanish and African cultures, this parade is one of the best events in Puerto Rico.

Where: Loíza

When: July through August

Culinary Festivals

Puerto Rico Culinary Festivals

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15. Coffee Harvest Festival

Also called The Maricao Coffee Festival, this Puerto Rican coffee harvest festival lasts over 3 days. One of the most celebrated events in Puerto Rico, this festival will treat you to a sample of ‘corto,’ cup of local coffee with a dash of cinnamon, along with some stunning views of the Caribbean charm. 

Where: Maricao

When: February (second week)

16. Saborea Culinary Festival

Elegant and tasteful (literally), the Saborea Culinary Festival in San Juan is where the best national and international chefs bring forward their best creations. Through the means of many workshops and interactive events, this festival is flavorsome and feisty! 

Where: San Juan

When: April

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17. SoFo Culinary Festival

This bi-annual culinary festival is held in the Old San Juan where the cafés and restaurants along the La Fortaleza Street welcome visitors and locals to taste some of their best gastronomical creations. 

Where: San Juan

When: Mid-June and mid-September

Sporting Events

Sporting Events in Puerto Rico

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18. Puerto Rico Open

This one is for the golf lovers. A professional golf tournament and the only PGA Tour played in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Open attracts best golf players from around the globe. A prize money of US $3.0 million will definitely motivate you to bring along your A-game.  

Where: Rio Grande

When: March

19. International Billfish Tournament

The International Billfish Tournament is a premier fishing tournament where fishing connoisseurs from many countries compete to chase & catch the Atlantic Blue Marlin. These competitions happen close to the full moon days.

Where: Club Náutico, San Juan

When: August to September

20. Baseball Season 

Hosted all over the island, the six Puerto Rican baseball teams compete for the prestigious title. This little island country takes its sports very seriously! The Hiram Bithorn Stadium is known to host most of the matches. 

Where: Islandwide

When: November to January

Puerto Rico is intoxicating and rich. Its many festivals are celebrated with unrestricted joy, along with a riot of colors and good times. And few of them, you just cannot miss! 

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