Central America is one of the epicenters with the largest number of carnival festivals in the continent. Carnivals in this part of the Americas are steeped in history and commemorate the identity of all locals.
We accompany you to discover the best and most surprising carnivals in Central America.
The Puntarenas Carnival is a colorful celebration held in the port city of Puntarenas, homonymous province in southwestern Costa Rica. The celebration is also known as the Carnival of the Queen and was first celebrated in 1971. The Puntarenas Carnival is a living expression of the daily life of the locals, so during the celebration activities are carried out that are part of the identity of the city.
Despite not being as popular as some of its sister carnivals, the Puntarenas Carnival is a great colorful celebration that attracts thousands of people from all over the country and the region. PPuntarenas is a coastal and port city and this is reflected in the carnival celebrations. The carnivals comprise two of the most well-known events of the festivities: the volleyball contests and thefishing contests, both of which occur almost daily. In addition, every day there are musical concerts that enliven all the events.
In addition to thesporting events, there is also a great parade that takes the main roads of the town. This grand parade features comparsas with costumes and colorful costumes, large themed floats and creative dancers. During the parade, several bigheaded dolls stroll along the street, cheering on the entire audience in attendance. The finishing touch to the whole presentation is an incredible fireworks show.
The Puntarenas Carnival is a traditional carnival celebration, so it is held between the months of February and March.
TheSan Miguel Carnival is one of the largest events of its kind in the country. The celebration is held in the city of San Miguel, municipality of the same name in El Salvador. The celebration was previously held on May 8. However, the date of the celebration was modified in 1939 to coincide with November 21, the day on which the Virgin of Peace is honored.
The celebration of the carnival in San Miguel is one of the most awaited and important events for the whole country. Carnivals integrate a large number of street events throughout the city. Food stands, street bands, orchestras and performances flood the streets a month before the carnival and intensify as the days go by and the main day approaches.
Carnival Queens are of great importance to the festivities and are taken very seriously. The coronation ceremony or gala is one of the most anticipated events of the festival. This coronation gala is composed of a lot of colorful shows and entertainment. In addition, the whole ceremony can last up to about six hours. The Queens are also part of the main parade on their floats.
Despite being a carnival celebration, these festivities are not held on the traditional date, but during the month of November tocommemorate the Virgen de la Paz. El Carnaval de San Miguel will be held on approximately November 27.
The Mazatenango Carnival or Mazatenango Carnival is a colorful celebration held in the locality of Mazatenango, municipality of Suchitepéquez. The celebration of carnivals has been present in the locality since 1885. During the first celebrations, events were held in the main square and people played with streamers, confetti and eggshells. However, it was not until 1893 that the first masked ball was held.
The Carnivals of Mazatenango are a great colorful celebration aimed at the entire population of the town. Everyone can participate and the organization contemplates activities for both adults and children. In addition, it also has the respective coronation of the queen, sports activities, dances, religious activities, sale of handicrafts, floral games and the Grand Parade. The main event of the festivities is the parade that crosses the main streets of the town. This parade is made up of floats made by the various sectors of society, including colleges, institutes, private companies, civil society and some public organizations.
The Grand Carnival Parade is a great event that integrates various sectors of the town and the entire municipality. Currently, the parade has at least 25 floats designed and built by the aforementioned groups. In addition, the main streets are taken over by both young and old with their incredible colorful costumes. Beauty queens from all over the municipality participate in the great event, as well as the Carnival Queen.
The Mazateco Carnival takes place between the months of February and March, following the traditional carnival calendar; however, it extends several days after Ash Wednesday.
The Rio San Juan Carnival, also known as Rio San Juan Aquatic Carnival, is a unique celebration held in the department of San Carlos, northern Nicaragua. The celebration is extremely particular, since the main events, as well as the parade take place on the waters of the San Juan River. The carnival arose when the works of the seawall of the town were completed. Thus, the authorities decided to hold a celebration to attract tourists and contribute to the economic activity of the town. Thus, in 2009, the first carnival of Río San Juan was held.
During the event, different cultural groupings perform different repertoires dance and music. In addition, it has some incredible decorated boats and also cross the river with a large number of dancers and musicians. The whole atmosphere is carried with great joy and commemorates the natural beauty of the town. The large number of groups that participate in these events has caused thousands of tourists to come every year to the banks of the river to celebrate. In addition to the aquatic events, the carnival also has land parades, in which various comparsas, dancers and musicians participate.
The nature of this event has caused the carnival to become one of the most important events in the country and the region. Rio San Juan Carnival has reached such popularity that each year it receives up to 10,000 tourists. The celebration is carried out thanks to the different governmental bodies of the department, as well as the relevant ministries.
Although it is a carnival celebration, it is not held during the traditional carnival calendar between the months of February and March, but in the month of October. The event is held during the day of Octubre Victorioso, commemorating the spirit struggle of the indigenous people and the black community. Rio San Juan Carnival is held between the second and third week of October and lasts for three days.
The Carnival of La Ceiba, also known as the International Carnival of Friendship, is one of the largest and most important carnivals in Honduras and the entire region of Central America. The Carnival was held for the first time in the twentieth century, when it was known as La Feria Isidra and commemorated the Patron Saint San Isidro Labrador. In 1968 began to enhance the first parades, while in 1976 began to perform the carnavalitos and minor events in each locality of the city.
It could be said that the Carnival of La Ceiba is divided into two stages that are divided into exactly two weeks. The first week functions as a sort of warm-up, as small parades are held around town, also known as carnavalitos, recreational activities, local gastronomic fairs, musical presentations and some dancing events. The second week of the carnival is when events begin to intensify. During this week, a large number of evening events are held, lasting until the early hours of the morning, and on the last day of the festival, the big carnival parade takes place.
The main carnival parade is the most important event of the entire celebration. The event takes place on the last day of the festivities and features the presence of several cultural and student groups. The parade begins with the military bands and some groups of the army, and then continues with the rest of the groups. The beauty queens and the carnival are next in the parade line, who ride on large trucks to dance and entertain the public. The comparsas are positioned between floats to perform some dance pieces and entertain the public in the streets.
The Carnival of La Ceiba will begin approximately on May 8 and will end on May 22.
Road March Carnival is held in the Capital of Belize, Belize City. The tradition has been a part of the city since 1975. The Belize Road March is one of the most authentic expressions of the population, which in turn contemplates several elements of the traditional Caribbean Carnival. The event is of great importance to the citizens, since it reflects several aspects of identity. In addition, the carnival is part of a great chain of events, since it is celebrated in the month of September, month in which Independence Day is commemorated.
The day of the celebration is completely filled with fun events, in which the whole community participates. The dance troupes, children’s, school and adults are part of the grand parade through the capital city. The music, the dance and the costumes can never be missing in the various events organized by the city.
Because the carnival party is heavily influenced by Caribbean carnivals, it features unique and traditional elements of them. The carnival begins with the J’ouvert, a large street event that starts at 4 am. During the event, thousands of people come out to party in the streets to get covered in mud, paint, talcum powder and even chocolate. Later that day, the great parade takes place with the participation of various carnival groups.
Although carnivals are usually held during the months of February and March, the Belize Road March takes place during the month of September.
The Limón Carnival is held in the city of Limón, a port city located southeast of the Central American country. Carnival in the city has been celebrated since 1949 and commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to Uvita Island. In addition, it also pays tribute to the different cultures that have settled in the city. The Limon Carnival in Costa Rica is a multicultural and colorful celebration.
The celebration contemplates several elements of Caribbean culture, so you can find all kinds of cultural influences in both dance and music. The carnivals are full of events from beginning to end, which include cultural performances, dances, comparsas, musical groups, election of the queen of the carnivals, food, art and craft fairs. Likewise, the Grand Parade, with the participation of the entire city, is a must during the carnivals.
The Limon Carnival Parade is loaded with different Afro-Caribbean expressions, as they celebrate the migrants that have arrived from the Caribbean islands. The groups that comprise the parade feature beautiful colorful costumes as they dance from start to finish across the street. Music is one of the elements that cannot be missing, that is why during the whole event there are several trucks with speakers that play traditional Caribbean music for the groups to dance to. After the big event, people take to the streets to celebrate with music and dancing while watching an incredible fireworks display.
The carnival in the city is not held taking into account the traditional calendar, which contemplates the celebration between the months of February and March, but is held to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the island of Uvita.
Alegria por la Vida Carnival is a wonderful celebration held in the capital of Nicaragua, the city of Managua. The celebration emerged for the first time in 2002. The objectives of the carnival were to develop, conserve and preserve the cultures and traditions of the country. Thus, dozens of dance groups come to the country’s capital to participate in this incredible event. During the last few years, the carnival has grown exponentially, incentivizing the tourism and the economic activity of the city.
Alegria por la Vida Carnival features a large number of events and elements that represent the nation and its traditions. Throughout the event there is the participation of various cultural groups that come from all over the country. In addition, throughout the celebration, activities are held in various cultural areas. The events that stand out most in the celebration are the sports, tourist, cultural, religious, gastronomic activities, coronation of the Carnival Queen and of course, the great parade.
The Carnival Parade consists of 200 allegorical floats, which are accompanied by dozens of groups. These groups or comparsas perform cultural manifestations in relation to their culture and ethnicity. Among the genres that stand out most in the celebration are the Palo de Mayo, the marimba and polkas. It should be noted that these groups are prepared for months and come from every corner of the country.
The Alegria por la Vida Carnival is one of the most important events in the whole country, which receives about 30,000 people every year. The event usually takes place between March and April.
The city of Antigua Guatemala, or simply Antigua, is the epicenter of a large Catholic celebration that draws thousands of people every year. The event is characterized by the great staging of the processions, which follow apath of tapetes made withflowers and fruits. This type of religious manifestations has been present in Guatemala since the 16th century, which were brought to the country by Spanish settlers. In addition, the carpets that are designed for the event are mentioned in biblical passages, especially in chapter 21, from verse 7 to 9, which mentions the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem, arranging branches for his entrance.
During the celebration of Holy Week in Antigua, thousands of pilgrims flock to the city to take part in one of the country’s largest and most symbolic events. Every year, the streets are filled with people from all parts of the country and the region to fervently celebrate Catholicism. The events that stand out in the whole event are the processions of the different religious images, which leave the various temples and walk through the streets on the flower carpets..
The images that circulate around the city are carried by the different pilgrims; however, the largest and most commemorative ones are carried by the Cucuruchos. The cucuruchos are people who wear from head to toe a purple cassock. These people carry the images on their shoulders and dozens of these are required in order to transport the large images. Processions take place every day from the beginning to the end of Semana Santa. In addition to the processions, several religious ceremonies are also held and food stalls are set up throughout the city.
The celebration of Holy Week takes place from the Friday of Sorrows until Good Friday.
The Carnival of Las Tablas is undoubtedly the biggest, most impressive and colorful celebration in Panama and the rest of Central America. Carnivals are held in a small village known as Las Tablas, capital of the province of Los Santos. The carnival emerged as a kind of religious manifestation between two of the temples located in the town. These temples divided the city, since the believers of each one fervently celebrated the image of each one. Over the years, this rivalry became institutionalized and incorporated elements of carnival. Las Tablas was divided into two bands during the festivities: Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo.
Despite being sisters, Up Street and Down Street are rivals during carnivals. Both sides choose their ownCarnival Queen, who compete against each other. In addition, each of the queens has its own support group known as “Tuna”. During the festivities, the queens parade through the streets, accompanied by characteristic music known as Tonadas. These tunes are full of messages that are directed towards the opposing queen.
The parades are divided into two categories: morning and evening parades. The daytime parades are characterized by the well-known “Culecos” or simply mojaderas, which consists of dousing the audience with water or foam. This is done to control the temperatures, since during the day they are quite high, and also as a means of entertainment. During the night, almost the same theme occurs, only that, instead of Culecos, large fireworks shows are carried out.