Everything about Nicaragua is vibrant, colourful and dramatic; the landscapes, the wildlife, the people and, of course, the festivals and celebrations that occur throughout the year. From intense religious procession to the quiet beauty of poetic verse; Nicaragua’s events calendar is as diverse as the country itself.
The longest festival in Latin America’s festival calendar; San Jeronimo is celebrated for around 80 days in the town of Masaya – Nicaragua’s cradle of culture. Officially, the festivities are only meant to last eight days, but this is Nicaragua we’re talking about – it’s not the sort of country that does things by halves. The last day of September is when things kick off and the figure of Masaya’s patron saint, San Jeronimo, is removed from its place in the church and paraded through the town. As he is carried by triumphantly, the streets burst to life with music, dancing and general frivolity to create a party atmosphere that won’t calm down again until the end of November. That’s right, three whole months of fireworks and street parties; you might just need to extend your trip.
International Poetry Festival
Each year in February, revered poets from all over the world descend upon the city of Granada in celebration of the power of the written word. Granada, with its colonial architecture and fascinating history, is the perfect backdrop to this cultural festival. As you can imagine, hearing the words of such famed poets echoing along streets that have been plundered by pirates and ruled by colonialism is quite an inspiring experience. Whilst the main focus of the celebrations is, of course, poetry, other talents are also showcased and appreciated. Singers, dancers, musicians, artists and theatrical performers all get a chance to shine, making this festival a great all-rounder.
Palo de Mayo
Often referred to as Nicaragua’s biggest and best street party, Palo de Mayo occurs throughout the month of May and is best observed in the small town of Bluefields on the country’s Caribbean coast. The celebrations get under way on the first of the month, when local communities host their own smaller festivities including foodie fairs, art exhibitions and a range of contests. Fast forward to the last Saturday in May, however, and Bluefields is transformed into one giant carnival. Live music, dancing, local cuisine; it’s all happening here. Then, on the last day of the month, locals say a special goodbye to the May celebrations by performing a traditional Tululu dance in different parts of the city. A fascinating insight into local culture and a great excuse to party.
Crab Soup Festival
The Crab Soup Festival takes place on the beautiful Corn Islands, so the promise of white sand beaches and azure waters should be enough to pique your interest in this vibrant affair that’s held in commemoration of slave emancipation. Big Corn and Little Corn Island host the celebrations on different days but it’s always at the end of August and both follow the same pattern of events. To begin with, the island is woken at sunrise by a live band playing in the back of a truck to ensure they’re up in time to watch the emancipation parade. Then, as lunch time comes round, everyone feasts on crab soup and enjoys dance performances, horse races on the beach and the election of the island’s beauty queen. It’s a wholly Caribbean affair that illuminates the diversity of Nicaragua’s cultures and traditions.