Puerto Ricans will be celebrating the rich culture and history of the island throughout January with Three Kings Day and the renowned San Sebastian Festival.
With traditional music, delicious food and cultural ceremonies, these two festivities prolong the excitement of the holiday season in Puerto Rico.
Three Kings Day on January 6th commemorates the Biblical story of the three kings who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child. Also known as The Epiphany, and commonly known in Puerto Rico as El Dia de los Reyes, this is a treasured Christmas tradition on the island.
Traditional holiday food is served including delicious dishes such as pasteles, lechon asado, arroz con dulce and tembleque. Island-wide festivals take place with lively music, parades, puppet shows, troubadours and dancing.
The largest celebration is in Juana Diaz and smaller celebrations occur in the towns of Ponce, Coamo, Santa Isabel, Guayanilla, Yauco, Guanica, Cidra, Barranquitas and Orocovis.
Later in the month, from January 22nd through 25th, the annual San Sebastian Festival is undeniably the blowout of the year. It is Puerto Rico’s answer to Mardi Gras! During the festival, the island’s most fun-loving people take over Old San Juan’s seven-square-block historic district to create the Caribbean’s best nightlife and a world-class party.
Originating in 1970, the weekend-long celebration was instituted by then-San Juan Mayor Felisa Rincon. The beginnings were humble but with the passing of years the festival grew, and today it is the year’s biggest party, attracting more than 250,000 people to the Old City to participate in the festivities.
Fun unfolds in a predictable pattern as the party kicks off with a parade honoring Puerto Rico’s cultural figures and quickly segues into a celebration. During the day, families walk around the area and take a look at the latest offerings from local artists and artisans who are selling their goods in the city.
The locals parade in processions of traditional Puerto Rican masks (cabezudos) which are vibrantly colored in red, yellow and blue and create the illusion of comical oversized heads.
In the evening, the artists put their work away, and thousands flood San Sebastian Street in a celebratory manner. Live music gears up to provide a party in which the young and old gyrate to salsa, merengue and Puerto Rican classic tunes.
Those that come to celebrate also bring their own instruments, and on every street corner a group of musicians starts off their own music, and strangers dance together hand in hand.