One thing you can be sure of Puerto Ricans party-hardy! You can save yourself a lot of stress by scheduling your Caribbean vacation around a San Juan festival. Below is a list of some great events that you may want to check out while you are here.
- San Sebastian Festival – 3rd week in January
This particular festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Many tourists compare the San Sebastian Festival with Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Locals consider San Sebastian THE festival. Although an awesome street party, the festival expresses the local culture and traditions magnificently. Musicians hold live performances both on stage and in the streets. Folk and modern dancers perform and party-goers join in. Artisans display their wares along parade routes. The daytime is family-friendly, but after dark partying begins.
- Le Lo Lai Cultural Festival – January 27th to May 25th
Every Tuesday at 6:00 pm The Puerto Rico Tourism Company and the San Juan National Historic Site present Ballet Folkórico Areyto at Fort San Cristóbal. As part of the Le Lo Lai Cultural Program, you can purchase a card for $10 that will allow you entrance to musical shows year round. Cards are available at authorized travel agencies and participating hotels. Certain tour operators will even offer tour discounts with this card.
- Puerto Rico Free Fall Festival – February
Is danger your spice in life? If so, the Puerto Rico Free fall Festival is a must! With free beer, live bands, food, and free coaching, fun is mandatory. Jumpers can register for high altitude jumps and beach jumps daily. Newbies can purchase wing suits. The festival ends with a Saturday night beach party.
- Casals Festival – March
Pablo Casals, world renowned cellist, composer, and conductor, though not a native, resided in Puerto Rico for 20 years. He established the Casals Festival in 1956 and it still occurs annually in his honor. Classical music buffs will enjoy rubbing shoulders with many “big names” who attend the annual tribute. The Caribbean’s hallmark music festival takes place in the San Juan Performing Arts Center and lasts several weeks.
- Rum and Beer Festival – March
Rum and beer tastings unite with food tastings of Caribbean cuisine. Bands, contests, and salsa dancing make for a fun festival. Puerto Rico is the rum capital of the world, and you’ll get an opportunity to sample their finest rums. Must-sees are the home brew pavilion and bar tending exhibitions.
- Sangria Fest – March
Only in San Juan will you get the opportunity to attend this Sangria Fest, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest in the world! Each year promises music, food, Sangria tastings, competitions and…surprises!
- Heineken Jazz Fest – March 20-23, 2014
We naturally associate Salsa with Puerto Rican music. But, surprisingly many of the top Latin American jazz players perform at the Heineken Jazz Fest during March-April. Although Latin jazz is the performer’s favorite, musicians in all jazz categories perform at the festival. Various Jazz artists gather at the Heineken outdoor event held in Tito Puente Amphitheater in San Juan.
- Saborea Fest – April 3-6, 2014
Saborea Fest attracts serious foodies and top chefs. It’s a fast-paced weekend of food-tasting and rum with globally renowned chefs and top celebrity chefs from TV. Famous chefs such as Anne Burrell, Jacques Torres and Iron Chefs have participated in past competitions. You’ll taste samples of Caribbean foods from Puerto Rico’s finest restaurants. Where else would you get a chance to cook alongside expert chefs and learn to prepare authentic recipes? If you savor excellent cuisine, you must save the date for Saborea.
- Puerto Rico Restaurant Week May 14-20
Restaurants throughout the island offer fixed price menus for dinner.
- Fiesta de San Juan Bautista – June
This is a celebration of the patron saint of San Juan that takes place in the week preceding June 24th. Among the many things this festival has to offer are food, fireworks, religious processions, and wandering minstrels. The week culminates at the beach in Isla Verde where everyone walks backwards into the ocean at midnight for good luck.
- Sofo Culinary Festival – Summer and Fall
What a sight to see! The city closes the streets to traffic and restaurants in the Sofo section of Old San Juan display table after table of tapas and other Puerto Rican cuisine. Everybody is able to taste-test. Other offerings include: Mediterranean, Mexican, Brazilian, and Italian dishes. Sofo goes out with a bang by ending with live fireworks. This food festival occurs twice annually in summer and fall.
- Coffee & Chocolate Expo – September 20-21, 2014
Over 100 exhibits present workshops, demonstrations, and lectures in the coffee and chocolate industries.
- Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music International Percussion Festival
If you resonate with percussion music, San Juan hosts players from Brazil, Venezuela, Korea, and Spain for this festival. Workshops are also available. The aim is to gather worldwide artists and ensembles and provide a learning experience for students and listening pleasure for the audience.