Carnaval de Ponce
The Ponce Carnaval and Carnaval de Vejigantes
It’s time to go South for some great fun and cultural experiences at the Carnaval de Vejigantes (February 2-4) at the Playa de Ponce area and the Carnaval de Ponce (February 8 – 13). The Vejigantes Carnaval is the warm-up event for the Carnaval de Ponce. You’re encouraged to bring your musical instruments, masks and more. Get ready for choreographed masked dancing troupes of Vejigantes, artisans, bands and an experience best described as “a feast of controlled chaos”.
The Vejigantes are unique
The Vejigantes are the main attraction of both Carnaval and people can spend an entire year crafting their costume. The main feature is a papier maché mask adorned with as many horns and teeth as possible that represents “evil”. The Vejigantes is mischievous and runs around hitting people with what traditionally was an inflated cow bladder. Today they use balloons to the same effect. There are also Caballeros or “gentlemen” who represent “good” and chase the Vejigantes. It’s all done in fun.
The Ponce Carnaval
The Ponce Carnaval is similar to the Venice Carnaval and it leads up to Ash Wednesday. This celebration however has an obvious Afro Caribbean flavor. Amazing masks are worn along with colorful costumes. There’s even a King Momo and a Carnaval Queen. It’s one of the oldest carnavals in the hemisphere, dating back to 1858 although some say they can trace it back more than 250 years.
What can you expect?
Besides a lot of happiness and good natured fun get ready for music since Ponce is famous for the Plena percussion music. It’s a week long celebration with different main events everyday. Make sure you catch the parade with wildly decorated floats and hundreds of Vejigantes and costumed people dancing together which is the highlight event.
Funeral of the Sardine
The unique “Funeral of the Sardine” celebration takes places on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This tradition, brought over from Spain, features a mock funeral procession for a sardine that represents all the vices and bad behavior that must be given up for Lent. Women in black cry dramatically behind the procession and a eulogy is held featuring all the funny moments lived during the Carnaval. When the “undertaker” decides it’s time for burial, the final party begins.
For an up to date schedule of events check out these links: https://www.facebook.com/carnaval.ponceno or https://www.facebook.com/visitponcepr