Annual Festivals and Fairs in Panama
Visit the most important festivals and fairs in the country.
Panama is a country where you can experience countless fairs and festivals throughout the year. Its weather conditions allow all these types of activities to take place.
The months of January and March have more festivities than the rest of the months. If it is your first time in the country, we will let you know which are those activities you cannot miss during this season:
Full Moon Drums (Luna Llena de Tambores)
This is a festival in which the magic of the drums takes the leading role in the event. Its creators decided to choose this instrument to demonstrate the link that music and drums have with the soul and to connect human beings.
This event has been held since 2010: it is a meeting point on the first day of the full moon of each month and it is an interactive and cultural event where different drumming routines are performed and where children, young people and adults of all ages can participate. Its creators claim that this type of “group percussion” activities create a strong sense of community, identity and belonging. People participate together by making rhythms, which cause them to interact physically, mentally and emotionally, a phenomenon that results in synchronized rhythm making.
If you’d like to attend, the nearest festival is the Beatles Full Moon Special. Saturday 8 February in Parque Urracá.
One of the most popular fairs in this province. It has it base in Soná, and its organization offers all its visitors a series of facilities and entertainment. It also has artificial causes bathed by the San Pablo River, which makes it visibly more attractive.
For this fair, programs are prepared ranging from typical dances with the best national artists with the best clubs in the country, which combined with the exhibitions of all kinds of goods and crafts, mechanical games, the beauty of the landscapes and a series of additional attractions, represent a great attraction for this region and its surroundings.
Great Afroantillan Fair
The Afro-Antillean culture has been holding this event for 39 years, where the roots, customs and traditions of the Afro-Antillean culture are honored. The fair has a rich cultural offer in terms of music, with calypso groups, national combos, quadrille and maypole dances, jazz and other rhythms. Within its greatest attraction is the Afro-Antillean gastronomy, which includes delicacies such as sao, pickled fish, codfish turrets, bon, plantintá, chicha de “saril” and “icinglass”. You can also find handicrafts and books at the fair. The fair is organized by the Society of Friends of the Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama (SAMAAP) and the National Institute of Culture. Its previous version had as its theme the 500 years of the foundation of Panama la Vieja and the inclusion of the conga skirt as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Festival of Ancient Times
Two Rivers of Dolega, end of February
Among the most outstanding aspects of this festival is the appreciation of the new drum and the expressions that arise from it, very characteristic of the region. Those who sing from its sound, are called singers, and must be coupled with the palms of the hands and when dancing, coupled with the movement of waist and elegant skirt. Its organizers seek to maintain the history of the town and that its traditions are not lost. Within the activities that are carried out, there is also the preparation of typical dishes of the place that later on are also part of the songs and dances that are performed. All the activities that are part of the festival are carried out in the old way, as they were carried out before, from how the drinks were made, to how the workers were received or the birthdays. In short, this is one of the most traditional festivals held in the country.
One of the oldest, most celebrated and most popular festivals in the whole country. Its history goes back to 1910, to the colonial period when, by means of a mayoral regulation, this festivity was made official. Each town where carnival is celebrated chooses a queen to represent the northern and southern areas, or as it is traditionally called “calle arriba y calle abajo” the activities indicate on Friday night when the queens from the previous year go out to welcome the new queen. For the next 4 days, the queens ride through town in giant carriages decorated with a specific theme and while people wait for their departure, water trucks shoot water through hoses, this act is called “culeco”. Around all the streets there are usually platforms and structures where national and international artists perform.
On Wednesday morning, the last symbolic closing act takes place, called burial of the sardine (entierro de la sardina), where the queens say goodbye, in a satirical way, to the carnival. This festivity allows to appreciate the explosion of traditions and beauty that Panama has.
International Folkloric Festival of the Almojábano with Cheese
The “almojábano” is a typical food of the region of Chiriquí that consists of an extended piece of corn dough with cheese, the festival takes this name to highlight this traditional dish, other traditions and national crafts. Its first edition was held in May 2011 with the participation of approximately 10 groups from the province of Chiriqui and the festival only lasted 2 days. For the 2020 edition the Festival joins the network of more than 300 CIOFF® Festivals (International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals and Traditional Arts) who is an Official Partner of UNESCO. Since 2013 this festival receives groups from countries such as Costa Rica, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Hungary, Chile, Colombia and Honduras. Within this festivity a great cultural exchange is lived since so many countries invited and the local ones carry out representative artistic presentations.
Panama International Film Festival
March 26 to April
It is a Latin American film festival, which brings together the best pieces and the best actors in the region. In spite of being only 7 years old, it is considered a great showcase that contributes to the diffusion of regional cinema. More than 70 films from 51 countries were screened. This festival has had great guest films awarded with Oscars or festivals like Cannes, San Sebastian or Berlin. The executive director of the festival, Pituka Ortega has mentioned on countless occasions the importance of the festival in its place of origin, since “it has achieved that many national projects have international notoriety”. For film lovers this would be the perfect time to visit the country and enjoy important and varied works.
International Azuero Fair
April 23rd to May 3rd
It takes place in the province of De los Santos, located in the region of Azuero. It receives more than 300,00 people per year; there are folkloric presentations, handicraft, textile and painting exhibitions. The fair has a main stage where drum and accordion competitions are held, instruments used in the creation of typical Panamanian music. Within the whole enclosure there are also fun activities for both young people and adults, it is estimated that the enclosure has more than 500 exhibitors. The fair has become one of the most important in the province as it is the main event that moves the economy of the province of Los Santos.
It is a festival about “opening up to all the possibilities of the growing Creative Industry, the center of cultural movement and contemporary entrepreneurship, key elements in the generation of Country Identity.”
More than 5,000 people usually attend the event, which has generated that the festival has become one of the most important creative industries by exhibiting the ideas of new and already consolidated artists who present a cultural vision of the national heritage, especially of the Old Town of the city.
Did you know that orchids have over 422 types? Boquete is one of the strongest producers of this plant and its great variety and composition managed to obtain looks from both nationals and foreigners. Every year there is a competition where experts give a prize to the most beautiful one.
The evaluation process consists of selecting among national, foreign and hybrid plants, then they are divided from their botanical part by families to analyze their characteristics and later to compare them with the natural development of the species.
It is held annually, during September, on both sides of the road that runs parallel to the sea along the “Playa del Istmito”, also called “Playa de la Feria”.
During the fair, water activities such as motorboat races and paddleboat competitions are held, in both male and female versions. In addition to these competitions, a fishing tournament is held, which becomes another impressive event with a lot of participation.
Panama is full of culture and multiculturalism in each of its corners, in any of the options previously mentioned you will be able to enjoy the traditions of the country. In another of our articles you will be able to know more fairs that are celebrated in the other half of the year.