Nicaragua celebrates a number of festive occasions with public holidays, including New Year’s Day and Christmas Day, but it is perhaps the country’s unique events that make for the more interesting displays of culture. From the culinary Crab Soup Festival to the religious events of Diriamba, there is an event for every type of traveler to enjoy.
Also known as the festival of San Sebastian, this takes place on January 19-20 every year, and is a religious feast celebrated by all Nicaraguans. Even though it is now a Roman Catholic festival, it combines the traditions of indigenous and Spanish roots. The dances, songs, and costumes reflect the indigenous culture that predates the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.
Palo de Mayo
Literally translating to the “May Pole,” this festival is held throughout May on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Even though it derives from a traditional British activity, signifying the remnants of Britain’s presence there, this truly Caribbean adaptation sees vibrant rhythms and colorful processions blended in with the traditional feast.
Crab Soup Festival
This festival is held annually on the Corn Islands every August. It celebrates the release of the 99 slaves on the island by the Queen of England during the nineteenth century, and has turned into the biggest celebration on the islands, heralding their heritage.
Fiesta del Toro Venado
This festival typically falls in the last Sunday of October, in the region of Masaya (close to Managua and Granada). It is a Nicaraguan dance festival that begins at noon, and ends at sunset, and is based on superstitions similar to Halloween. People create and wear masks for the processions.
Purisima / Grieria
The two similar festivals are parades and processions celebrating the Immaculate Conception in the early weeks of December in the lead up to Christmas. They are held in the cities of Granada and Leon, and provide a true spectacle which most of the townspeople come out to enjoy.