4 Ways to Manage “Fiestas Patrias” in Panama in November




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November is here, and that means it’s party time for Panama. Well, to be honest, it means much more than that, but the mood is certainly festive on the isthmus, and it’s a great time to celebrate national pride with the Panamanians. Panama celebrates five national holidays, spread out during the month of November, collectively known as the “Fiestas Patrias”, or “Patriotic Parties (holidays).” The fiestas patrias are November 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 28th.

Each holiday represents a different battle or independence from colonialism, and each are celebrated with lots of national pride and fanfare. Now, this doesn’t mean that the whole month is one big holiday, however with so many falling in such little time, many Panamanians like to take the majority of their vacations during this month. There’s lots to do all over the country, and a lot to absorb, especially if you’re a tourist or a newer expat. To help you navigate all these celebrations, here are four things we think you should know, while celebrating here in Panama.

Fiestas Patrias November Panama

 

1. Most non-essential businesses are closed.

During the November holidays, most small and large businesses close on each date, and often for a day or two after, especially if it falls next to a weekend. This can be frustrating if you’re trying to run errands, but it’s a well earned and necessary break for most workers in the country. If you’re in a tourist area, you’ll see plenty of bars and restaurants open, and the country’s big supermarket chains stay open as well. We recommend that if you have any official, important errands or tasks, you get them out of the way before or after November, or at least during the holiday dates themselves.

2. Go check out a national parade.

The best part, and most well know part of the fiestas patrias are the parade marches. These parades go on in pretty much every town and city in the country, and showcase patriotic pride through costumes, traditional dancing, police/military fanfare, and traditional marching drums. People practice for these parades all year, and it’s a huge sign of pride for both high school/college drum marching groups, as well as more professional, private ones. Don’t miss out on this!

3. Everyone heads to the beach and countryside.

During the holidays, most Panamanians that have the resources to, will leave the city. This means that Panama’s beaches, mountain towns, and touristy country areas will be packed with visitors. A trip to the beach during the holidays can be a lot of fun, but if you’re not into partying and lots of noise, we recommend a more quiet escape, or staying in the city. The city is relatively empty during this time, which is a nice break from noise and traffic, but if you want to really experience the party flavor, you should definitely head into the interior of the country.

4. Be aware of price gouging.

One unfortunate aspect of the month of fiestas patrias is that with so much demand on domestic tourism, parties, food, and transportation, prices across the board seem to go up a bit. That’s fine, and totally understandable from a business perspective, however make sure the price isn’t too much higher than it should be. Always ask a local or long-time expat if the price you’re getting charged for something is about right. Hotels will be full, as will buses, and even domestic flights, and there are many that will capitalize on this and offer much higher (but not worth it) price alternatives. All in all, it should be fine, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Enjoy!

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