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Festivals in Nicaragua, 2008


MANAGUA, Nicaragua (February 18, 2008) - Nicaragua is a country of rich culture and history, and Nicaraguans honor their holidays with widespread enthusiasm. Combinations of diverse costumes, live music, centuries old traditions and exciting cuisines can be experienced differently in almost every city.  Following is a list of some of the largest and most widely observed festivals in Nicaragua.



  • Patron San Sebastian Festival - January 17-27 (Diriamba) The feast day of St. Sebastian is Nicaragua's most authentic connection to its indigenous and Spanish roots. Celebrated over a number of days in Diriamba, not far from the capital of Managua, this joyous feast includes dancing, costumes and a number of street performances with traditional dances.


  • Music & Youth Festival - February 9-10 (Managua) One of the city's largest and most awaited events of the year, the Music & Youth Festival brings the country together by showcasing musical groups from different cities. Awards, celebrations and various types of music are abundant at this annual event.
  • Granada's Poetry Festival - February 14-18 (Granada) During the annual International Poetry Festival held in Granada, Nicaragua, more than 150 poets from around the world gather to recite and romance spectators on every corner. Visitors to this weeklong event enjoy traditional festivities, musical performances, authentic dishes, lectures, poetry readings and much more; all of which are displayed on the cobble stone streets of one of the oldest Spanish colonial cities in the Americas.

Holy Week (March 17-24):

  • Via Crucis Acuàtico - March 17 (Granada) Virtually the Stations of the Cross, on water, this holy procession emerged as a Nicaraguan tradition 26 years ago. An image of Jesus travels to different islands throughout the archipelago of Lake Nicaragua (one of the continent's largest lakes) on a beautifully decorated boat covered in garland and flowers. Believers trail behind in their own vessels creating an incredible site as they replicate the 14 Stations of the Cross.
  • Alfombras Pasionarias or "Passionate Carpets" - March 21 (León) Over a century ago, a family living in the colonial city of Leon created a colorful image on the street in front of their house, using sawdust and other materials. After time, neighbors began participating and building bigger and more elaborate sawdust creations. These eventually began to represent figures from biblical passages, and today the street is called "Carpet Street" due to the countless sawdust carpets strewn throughout.
  • Folklore, Gastronomy & Handicraft Festival - March 15-16 (Granada) As the country's most important tourism destination, Granada offers colonial charm alongside a breathtaking backdrop of lakes and volcanoes.  During the city's annual Folklore, Gastronomy & Handicraft Festival, artisans travel from rural areas to display their wares and talents, including indigenous cuisines built on their staple of corn, ancient handicrafts and popular folkloric performances.
  • San Lazaro Festival - March 9 (Masaya) This annual event is literally for the dogs.  The San Lazaro Festival is one of Nicaragua's oddest but most visual events.  Canine lovers and pets in elaborate costumes gather at the Santa Maria Magdalena church, in the Monimbo neighborhood of Masaya (known as the country's arts capital), to show thanks and ask for miracles for friends and family. According to biblical passages, dogs were said to lick Saint Lazarus's wounds.


  • Festival Viva! Leòn Jodido! - April 26-27 Leon is home to more than 12 colonial period churches and was Nicaragua's colonial capital for 297 years. The Viva Leon Jodido Youth Group gathers participants annually to learn about and build the giant folkloric puppets that are an intrinsic part of Nicaragua's cultural traditions. Dating back to the 16th century, the "Gigantonas" used in this celebration are larger-than-life puppets representing the past imposing Spanish power over Nicaragua. Children participating in these events dance alongside the Gigantona puppets in the streets, creating their own dance routines and ballads.


  • Feria del Mar - May 1 (Corinto) Founded in 1863, Corinto was named in honor of the Greek city, Corinth. The people of this northern town rely on fishing as a way of life; an estimated 30 to 50 fishing vessels leave Corinto daily and return with about 1,500 pounds of fish-scales!  "Feria del Mar" or Fair of the Sea is a massive one-day seafood festival featuring Nicaraguan best delicacies-including fish soups, ceviches and much more. Some 30,000 people invade Corinto for this annual festival.
  • "Palo de Mayo" Festival - May 29-31 (Bluefields) Originating in the 17th century, the Maypole celebration is said to have German roots. The highlight of this boisterous, yearly festival is the Palo de Mayo dance, which consists of a tall wooden pole and colorful ribbons.  Originally, women danced around the poll holding ribbons while men approached them only to be rejected. Set to Nicaragua's Caribbean sounds, dancers in brightly decorated costumes go through a provocative, and sensual, series of moves. May celebrations can also be seen in Pearl Lagoon and the Corn Islands on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast.


  • Patron Saint Festival of St. John the Baptist - June 24 (San Juan de Oriente and San Juan del Sur) Nicaraguan music, delectable food, enticing games and colorful parades are regular activities at the end of June in both San Juan de Oriente and San Juan del Sur on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast.  The celebration consists of various processions with statues of John the Baptist, fireworks, and most famous of all, "chilillo," a dance/sport where two "chinegros", or masked dancers, compete to whip their opponent. After a few seconds somebody in the costume of a yegüita (mare) enters between the two people ending the bout.


  • Patron Saint Festival of St. Santiago - July 25 (Boaco & Jinotepe) Set in the cattle and cowboy region of Boaco, this weeklong celebration features dancers in brightly colored costumes, wearing crowns adorned with flowers and streamers. They carry wooden staffs carved to look like serpent
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