Panama Carnival

Panama Carnival
Carnival is one of the most awaited festivities in predominantly Roman Catholic and Lutheran countries around the world. In Panama, the biggest and brightest Carnival celebrations are held in Las Tablas, Panama City and throughout the Azuero Peninsula. The Panama Carnival draws thousands of tourists to the country’s capital.

Although the town of Las Tablas is considered Panama’s top Carnival destination, Carnival in Panama City is pretty popular, too. Traditionally beginning on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and ending on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), the Panama Carnival is widely celebrated by Panamanians and foreign guests.

The Panama Carnival originated during the colonial period. Revelers dressed up as the King and Queen of Spain, conquistadors, slaves and natives, and proceeded along the road, both mocking and celebrating Spanish culture. The present-day Carnival became an official holiday in 1910. Its main highlights include the election and crowning of the Carnival Queen, a vibrant parade, and firework displays.

As we’ve already mentioned above, Carnival celebrations in Panama City begin on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. The main event of the day is a beauty pageant followed by the crowning of the Carnival Queen and two princesses. The Queen and princesses preside over the festivities until the Burial of the Sardine that marks the end of Carnival.

On Saturday, numerous street parties and parades are held in the barrios (neighborhoods) of the Panama City. The festivities feature live music and dancing, lots of food and drinks, amusement rides, games and contests, and more. One of Panama’s signature carnival traditions is the so-called mojaderas, or water battles. To cool off in Panama’s tropical climate, people use water guns, hoses and buckets to soak each other with water. During Carnival, water-filled trucks called culecos can be found throughout the city, and if you don’t want to get drenched, you’d better avoid them.

The Panama Carnival culminates a vibrant parade and a firework display. The parade features huge floats and hundreds of revelers in elaborate costumes. A typical Panamanian Carnival costume is the devil. These devil costumes vary from region to region. Hundreds of women and girls are dressed in polleras, the national costume of Panama.

Panama Carnival

Photo: Phil Carter




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