Events and Holidays
When deciding when to go to Panama, you won’t have to worry too much about weather concerns, and many visitors choose to plan their trip around one of the Panama holidays or events. Special events in Panama can range from a night at the opera in Panama City, to a colorful native festival on one of the country’s islands. Panama is predominantly a Roman Catholic country, so you can expect to encounter many Panamanian festivals that center around common Christian traditions. But the primary native cultures of Panama, of which there are 7, observe some of their own traditions, which go back hundreds of years or more. Often times, the native cultures mix their pagan beliefs with Christian ones during their festivals. Many towns and cities across Panama have their own Patron Saint festivals, so you might check ahead before you arrive to see if anything special is going on at your featured destinations.
The king of all festivals and holidays in Panama is Carnival. Taking place in February, Carnival is generally celebrated on the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Of all the Panamanian festivals, Carnival is the most colorful and raucous. Imagine the New Orleans Mardi Gras mixed with the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. That pretty much sums up the Panama Carnival. Fireworks, music, dancing and plenty of drinking are the norm during Carnival in Panama, and the parades are truly amazing in both Panama City and the town of Las Tablas. While the Panama Carnival is celebrated all over the country, these two cities are easily the best places to experience it. Among the more interesting Panamanian festivals is the Festival of the Black Christ. It’s celebrated on October 21 in the town of Portobelo. Pilgrims come from all over Panama to witness the parade, which features a Black Christ statue that is life-sized.
Music fans will likely find the Panama Jazz Festival to be among the top Panamanian festivals. Held every January in Panama City, this week-long music education festival showcases jazz artists from Panama and other countries, and it also features master classes in jazz history and performance, among other topics. You’ll be happy to know that all proceeds from the Panama Jazz Festival go to the Danilo Perez Foundation. From there, the funds are directed toward scholarship programs and educational materials. For those who like flowers and coffee, the Chiriqui Highlands January Flower and Coffee Festival is a surefire bet to impress. Book ahead if you have this 10-day festival in mind, though, as it brings in a bunch of visitors every year, filling the Boquete hotels. If you miss the January flower festival, maybe you can come in the middle of April, when a smaller, 4-day affair takes place. As if you should need any additional excuse to visit the beautiful town of Boquete. Outside of Panama City, various regional festivals are held throughout the course of the year. Most of these feature local musicians and dancing is almost a must.
When it comes to holidays in Panama, the month of November is especially festive. On November 1, Panama celebrates National Anthem Day. The next day is reserved for All Souls’Day. Come November 3, the country is ready to celebrate the Independence Day. First Call for Independence is celebrated on November 10, and finally, on November 28, Panama observes its Independence from Spain. All of these Panama holidays are official ones, so you can expect things to slow down quite a bit. Good Friday and Easter are important holidays in Panama, and the Holy Week parades are of particular interest to those who are intrigued by religious events. During Carnival and other popular Panamanian festivals, it’s a good idea to book ahead to make sure you secure the kind of accommodations that you want. Other than that, you can just take it all in and go with the flow. Should you be lucky enough to add one of the Panama holidays or Panamanian festivals to your Panama vacation itinerary, it will only serve to make for a more rewarding experience.