Boricua refers to people of Puerto Rican heritage. Puerto Rico's indigenous inhabitants the Taino Indians referred to their island as Boriken. Puerto Rico is sometimes referred to by Puerto Ricans as Borinquen.
Rico is like no other place in the world and these events are just
a few of the things that make the “isle of enchantment”
ExperiencePuertoRico.com is filled with all things Puerto Rican in spirit, art, rum cocktails and other libations, food, music and dance as well as favorite places to visit and must-try experiences. Enjoy!
Rhythms of the Tropics
Music is the heart and soul of Puerto Rico and the essential element used by
islanders of all ages to celebrate life to its fullest.
Bomba y Plena - The two most popular types of folk music that originated
with slave groups and are coupled with dance. Bomba is purely African and is
mainly a rhythmic dueling combination of drumming and dancing. Plena,
characterized by its simplicity and repetition, relies heavily on drums,
güiros (hollow gourds that are notched and scratched with a wooden stick)
and the four-string Spanish guitar called the cuatro.
Seis - One of the oldest forms of folk music originated by rural Puerto
Ricans that employees percussion and string instruments with a cowbell for a
syncopated background. The dance-and-chant style has improvisational lyrics
that use controversy and flamboyant images to tell a story.
Salsa - An extremely popular fusion of up-tempo West African percussion and
jazz with bold vocals, sassy horns and a smoldering rhythm section.
Other Latin beats heard on the island are the very danceable merengue,
mambo, flamenco, cha cha and rumba.
Every one of the islands 78 municipalities has a patron saint and an annual street celebration in his or her honor. Fiestas patronales, or patron saints festivals usually last a week or more and include live music, games and rides, crafts, and lots of typical Puerto Rican food. Some towns host costume parades, sporting events and folklore shows to observe the centuries-old tradition intended to bring the community together.
And since every town has a festival each year, it's never a bad time to find one. Some are known for their unique customs such as Coamo's half marathon that attracts runners from around the world. And San Juan's tribute to St. John the Baptist usually draws the biggest crowds especially for Noche de San Juan, the night before the official saint's day in June. At the stroke of midnight throngs of people converge on the beaches of the capital city to jump backwards into the ocean three times to wash away bad luck for the coming year. It is a sight to behold.
Over the years, the religious aspect of the festivals has somewhat taken backstage to the revelry, and salsa and merengue music are the highlight of these giant block parties that spill out of town centers and into the neighborhood streets. These festivals are not only a great way to experience a beloved local tradition, but they offer a great chance of getting a free concert by some of Puerto Rico's most famous entertainers. Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Elvis Crespo, Manny Manuel and Gilberto Santarosa are some of the Latin music superstars who have performed at one time or another these popular celebrations.
It’s Carnival Time in Puerto Rico
Ponce Carnival — During the month of March, six days before the beginning of Catholic Lent, Ponce turns into a Puerto Rican-style mini Mardi Gras complete with colorful costumes and masks. This carnival is famous for its parades of vejigantes, masqueraders wearing bright red, blue and yellow masks.
Loiza's St. James Festival — Traditionally held in July, this popular festival honors Puerto Rico's Afro-Caribbean heritage and traditions with processions of brilliant costumes and masks and bomba dancers.
The Hatillo Mask Festival — In late December the town of Hatillo celebrates the island's third major festival of maskers. In keeping with a tradition that began in 1823, performers reenact the biblical story of King Herod with his masked devils in colorful costume prowling the streets while the sound of folk music fills the air.
Gallery Nights turn Art Appreciation into a Social Occasion
On the first Tuesday of the month, from February through May and September through December, art aficionados and wannabe's, professionals, students, visitors and locals alike flock to the streets of Old San Juan for Noches de Galerías, or Gallery Nights. Nearly two dozen art galleries stay open late and host special openings or exhibitions. Usually after strolling between galleries, visitors fill the Old City's restaurants and nightspots and practice the art of staying out late.
Every year anglers from around the globe strike it rich in the blue marlin capital of the world. Puerto Rico is also home to one of the most highly revered billfish tournaments--the annual Club Nautico de San Juan International Billfish Tournament, the longest consecutively run event of its kind running over 50 years.
Every year boatloads of anglers from as far away as Japan, head out in search of the Biggest Blue. More than a hundred Marlins are raised during the event and are safely returned for future generations to enjoy.
Besides the coveted top prize of the International Cup to the first, second and third place winning teams, the tournament awards trophies to the best Inter-club Team; Best Overall, Local and Visiting Anglers; Best Lady Angler; Best Visiting and Local Boat; Biggest Blue Marlin; and the Angler, Boat, and Captain with the Most Releases.
Prizes for individuals and teams range from fighting chairs to airline tickets. And to sweeten the pot, any angler who breaks the 895 lb. big blue record set in 1997 walks away with a big-kahuna of a prize—usually a new car.
The tournament is held in August. For more information about the tournament call Club Nautico de San Juan at 787-722-0177.
All that Jazz
The annual Heineken Jazz Festival (www.prheinekenjazz.com) is a showcase of international Latin and traditional jazz greats with a tropical backdrop. The under-the-stars mega-concert draws more than 15,000 jazz enthusiasts to San Juan every spring (May/June). Some past performances have included saxophonist David Sanchez, George Benson, Diane Schuur, Earl Klugh, Spyro Gyra, and many others. Recent honorees of the Jazzfest include Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera and Eddie Palmieri. Many hardcore jazz enthusiasts schedule their annual pilgrimage to Puerto Rico during the music festival, which is generally a five-day event.
Make way for the San Sebastian Street Festival
By day it's an artsy fair, by night a party animal's paradise. The giant block party is named after the Old San Juan street where most of the action takes place. For an extended weekend during late January the neighborhood surrounding the northernmost section of the Old City is transformed into a fairground with live music, artisan's crafts, typical local foods for sale. During the day, the streets are filled with processions of oversized masks or cabezudos that are enjoyed by families and people of all ages. At night the young and young at heart make their own parades and weave their way through the sea of bodies singing and gyrating to blaring salsa and merengue music. It's an unforgettable event by day or night.
Music to Your Ears
Puerto Rico is the host of one of the premiere classical musical events in the Caribbean. The annual Casals Festival is held during the month of June and is a tribute to the late great cellist Pablo Casals who began the tradition. For more than 40 years, the nearly two-week-long music festival features world-class conductors and musicians from around the globe as well as the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the most talented local artists. Tickets required - contact Puerto Rico Tourism Company at 666 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10103 or tel: (800) 223-6530 or (212) 586-6262.
A Forget-Me-Not Festival
The Aibonito Flower Festival takes place in the early Summer (June/July) and features acres of roses, lilies, begonias and countless tropical plants for sale. The charming central mountain town plays host to thousands of visitors who come not only to smell the flowers at the week-long festival, but to enjoy the live music, crafts and typical Puerto Rican food for sale.
Other events to watch for:
Three Kings Day, the traditional gift-giving day. (January)
Coffee Harvest Festivals, Yauco and Maricao (February)
Emancipation Day - The Commemoration of the emancipation of Puerto Rico's slaves in 1873. (March)
Festival de Azucar (Sugar Festival), San German (April)
Puerto Rican Danza Week, or Semana de la "Danza" Puertorriqueña, celebrating Puerto Rican danza music and dance with live performances. (May)
Columbus Day (October)
Jayuya Indian Festival, Jayuya (November)
Las Mañanitas, held in Ponce. A religious celebration to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, the city's patron saint. (December)
Bacardi Artisan's Fair, featuring more than 100 artists and exhibits. San Juan (December)
Barranquitas Artisans Fair, Barranquitas
Kite Festival, Fajardo
For dates and locations of all special events contact the Puerto Rico
Tourism Company at 787-721-2400 or on the Web at www.seepuertorico.com.
Every year anglers from around the globe strike it rich in the blue marlin capital of the world. Puerto Rico is also home to one of the most highly revered billfish tournaments—the annual Club Nautico de San Juan International Billfish Tournament (www.sanjuaninternational.com), the longest consecutively run event of its kind running over 50 years.
For exceptional ideas about how to make the most of your visit, see Things To Do & See and our Dining and Shopping guides!