Enjoy Carnaval in Panama: Your quick guide to a long weekend of events

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Carnaval is almost here, and that means lots of fun and culturally exciting events here in Panama! You’ve heard about the parties, and the water hoses, and the music, but did you know that there’s also a lot of deep cultural significance to these yearly celebrations? Panama is alive with things to do during Carnaval days, and you’re sure to find something you love, no matter what your tastes or budget. To help guide you along the way, here are some of the best ways, we believe, you should spend Carnaval.

Via La Prensa

Via La Prensa

Check out a neighborhood parade:

Carnaval has a few major celebrations that draw the attention of most of the country, but they also have some amazing smaller ones as well. Pretty much each neighborhood, town, or public square has their own local parade, and these are a great way to get to know the local culture. It may be hard to find when smaller events are listed, but if you ask around town, or simply go to the main square or avenue in your neighborhood, you’re sure to find something going on each day during Carnaval.

Head to Las Tablas:

This is definitely not the best option for quiet types, but if you’re looking to get the most immersive Carnaval experience in Panama, it’s your best bet. Las Tablas has the country’s biggest Carnaval celebration which is essentially four days of parades, culecos (water hoses spraying the crowd), food, music, and lots of partying. It’s safe, but finding adequate lodging is tricky and pricey. That being said, it’s the ultimate party in Panama each year, and is culminated with a nationally covered Fat Tuesday event that brings in some of the country’s finest entertainers and media.

Stay in the city:

For years, Panama City’s Carnaval celebrations were known as more of a neighborhood thing, but that’s all changed now. The city throws a massive, elaborate celebration right on Ave. Balboa and the Cinta Costera for each day during Carnaval. There are 3 big stages with live music and DJs at night, as well as traditional parades and culecos during the day. There are hundreds of food and drink vendors, and lots of security, bathrooms, and areas to dance all over the Caraval area. Entry is free, and for those not wanting to travel out of town, this is a great option.

Go to a resort:

Carnaval symbolically represents the end of the summer for many people here in Panama. It’s a time for parties and parades, but it’s also a great time to take a vacation. Whether you plan a quick trip out of town, or want to go somewhere quite (or not quiet), both airlines and hotels have lots of promotions for Carnaval. Panama’s resorts often offer low-price specials and package deals for this time, and much of the country is on vacation for all four days, if not even more. Transportation during the first and last days of Carnaval in Panama can be a real headache, so prepare for big waits, and be patient.

No matter what you decide to do, remember that Panama’s Carnaval celebrations are an integral and important part of their culture. Respect the rules, try to learn as much as you can, and most importantly…have fun!

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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