Three Kings Day, islandwide. On this traditional gift-giving day in Puerto Rico, there are festivals with lively music, dancing, parades, puppet shows, caroling troubadours, and traditional feasts. January 6.
San Sebastián Street Festival, Calle San Sebastián, in Old San Juan. Nightly celebrations with music, processions, crafts, and typical foods, as well as graphic arts and handicraft exhibitions. For more information, call tel. 787/721-2400. Mid-January.
San Blas de Illescas Half Marathon, Coamo. International and local runners compete in a challenging 13-mile (21km) half-marathon in the hilly south-central town of Coamo. Call Delta Phi Delta Fraternity (tel. 787/825-4077). Early February.
Coffee Harvest Festival, Maricao. Folk music, a parade of floats, typical foods, crafts, and demonstrations of coffee preparation in Maricao, a 1-hour drive east of Mayagüez. For more information, call tel. 787/838-2290 or 787/267-5536. Second week of February.
Carnival Ponceño, Ponce. The island's Carnival celebrations feature float parades, dancing, and street parties. One of the most vibrant festivities is held in Ponce, known for its masqueraders wearing brightly painted horned masks. For more information, call tel. 787/284-4141. Mid-February.
Casals Festival, Performing Arts Center in San Juan. Sanjuaneros and visitors alike eagerly look forward to the annual Casals Festival, the Caribbean's most celebrated cultural event. When renowned cellist Casals died in Puerto Rico in 1973 at the age of 97, the Casals Festival was 16 years old and attracting the same class of performers who appeared at the Pablo Casals Festival in France, founded by Casals after World War II. When he moved to Puerto Rico in 1957 with his wife, Marta Casals Istomin (former artistic director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), he founded not only this festival but also the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra to foster musical development on the island.
Ticket prices for the Casals Festival range from $30 to $40. A 50% discount is offered to students, people 60 and older, and persons with disabilities. Tickets are available through the Puerto Rico Symphonic Orchestra in San Juan (tel. 787/721-7727), the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center (tel. 787/620-4444), or Ticket Center (tel. 787/792-5000).
Information is also available from the Casals Festival (tel. 787/721-8370; www.festcasalspr.gobierno.pr). The festivities take place from late February to early March.
Emancipation Day, islandwide. Commemoration of the emancipation of Puerto Rico's slaves in 1873, held at various venues. March 22.
Saborea, El Escambrón Beach, San Juan. A weekend culinary extravaganza every April sponsored by the Puerto Rico tourism board, Saborea brings together island flavors and chefs and draws global culinary stars. Call tel. 787/751-8001 or visit www.saboreapuertorico.com. April 1 to 3, 2011.
Good Friday and Easter, islandwide. Celebrated with colorful ceremonies and processions. April 8 to April 10, 2011.
José de Diego Day, islandwide. Commemoration of the birthday of José de Diego, the patriot, lawyer, writer, orator, and political leader who was the first president of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives under U.S. rule. April 17.
Sugar Harvest Festival, San Germán. This festival marks the end of the island's sugar harvest, with live music, crafts, and typical foods, as well as exhibitions of sugar-cane plants and past and present harvesting techniques. Late April.
Puerto Rican Danza Week (Semana de la "Danza" Puertorriqueña), Convento de los Dominicos, Old San Juan. This week commemorates what is, perhaps, the most expressive art form in the Puerto Rican culture: danza music and dance. Throughout Danza Week, live performances and conferences are held at Convento de los Dominicos's indoor patio. The building is located on Old San Juan's Cristo Street. For information, call tel. 800/866-7827 or 787/721-2400. Second week of May.
Heineken JazzFest, San Juan. The annual jazz celebration is staged at Parque Sixto Escobar. Each year a different jazz theme is featured. The open-air pavilion is in a scenic oceanfront location in the Puerta de Tierra section of San Juan, near the Caribe Hilton. For more information, check out the website www.prheinekenjazz.com, which has schedules and links to buy tickets and package information. End of May through the beginning of June.
San Juan Bautista Day, islandwide. Puerto Rico's capital and other cities celebrate the island's patron saint with weeklong festivities. At midnight, sanjuaneros and others walk backward into the sea (or nearest body of water) three times to renew good luck for the coming year. San Juan hosts several events, from music fests to sports events, for several days before and after the holiday. June 24.
SoFo Culinary Festival, Old San Juan. Held twice a year, in the summer and autumn, during which restaurants on La Fortaleza Street open their doors to offer food and live music. Visit www.tastecuisine.net. Mid-June and mid-September.
Aibonito Flower Festival, at Road 721 next to the City Hall Coliseum, in the central mountain town of Aibonito. This annual flower-competition festival features acres of lilies, anthuriums, carnations, roses, gardenias, and begonias. For more information, call tel. 787/735-3871. Last week in June and first week in July.
Luis Muñoz Rivera's Birthday, islandwide. A birthday celebration commemorating Luis Muñoz Rivera (1829-1916), statesman, journalist, poet, and resident commissioner in Washington, D.C. July 20.
El Gigante Marathon, Adjuntas. This 9 1/4-mile (15km) race starts at Puerta Bernasal and finishes at Plaza Pública. For more information call tel. 787/829-3310. Sunday before July 25. It will take place July 24, 2011.
Loíza Carnival. This annual folk and religious ceremony honors Loíza's patron saint, John (Santiago) the Apostle. Colorful processions take place, with costumes, masks, and bomba dancers (the bomba has a lively Afro-Caribbean dance rhythm). This jubilant celebration reflects the African and Spanish heritage of the region. For more information, call tel. 787/876-1040. Late July through early August.
Cuadragésimo Cuarto Torneo de Pesca Interclub del Caribe, Cangrejos Yacht Club. This international blue-marlin fishing tournament features crafts, music, local delicacies, and other activities. For more information, call tel. 787/791-1015. Mid-August.
International Billfish Tournament, at Club Náutico, San Juan. This is one of the premier game-fishing tournaments and the longest consecutively held billfish tournament in the world. Fishermen from many countries angle for blue marlin that can weigh up to 900 pounds (408kg). For specific dates and information, call tel. 787/722-0177. Late August to early September.
La Raza Day (Columbus Day), islandwide. This day commemorates Columbus's landing in the New World. October 10.
National Plantain Festival, Corozal. This annual festivity involves crafts, paintings, agricultural products, exhibition, and sale of plantain dishes; neuva trova music and folk ballet are performed. For more information, call tel. 787/859-3060. Mid-October.
Start of Baseball Season, throughout the island. Six Puerto Rican professional clubs compete from November to January. Professionals from North America also play here. The city's Hiram Bithorn Stadium is also a frequent host for Major League Baseball series; in 2010 it was host to several New York Mets-Florida Marlins games.
Festival of Puerto Rican Music, San Juan. An annual classical and folk music festival, one of its highlights is a cuatro-playing contest. (A cuatro is a guitarlike instrument with 10 strings.) For more information, call tel. 787/721-5274. First week in November.
Jayuya Indian Festival, Jayuya. This fiesta features the culture and tradition of the island's original inhabitants, the Taíno Indians, and their music, food, and games. More than 100 artisans exhibit and sell their works. There is also a Miss Taíno Indian Pageant. For more information, call tel. 787/828-2020. Second week of November.
Puerto Rico Discovery Day, islandwide. This day commemorates the "discovery" by Columbus in 1493 of the already inhabited island of Puerto Rico. Columbus is thought to have come ashore at the northwestern municipality of Aguadilla, although the exact location is unknown. November 19.
Old San Juan's White Christmas Festival, Old San Juan. Special musical and artistic presentations take place in stores, with window displays. December 1 through January 12.
Puerto Rico Heritage Artisans Fair, San Juan. The best and largest artisans fair on the island features more than 100 artisans who turn out to exhibit and sell their wares. The fair includes shows for adults and children, and typical food and drink. It's held at the beautiful Luis Muñoz Rivera Park in Puerta de Tierra and is sponsored by the government. It used to be held on the grounds of the Bacardi rum plant. December 12 through 13.
Las Mañanitas, Ponce. A religious procession that starts out from Lolita Tizol Street and moves toward the city's Catholic church, led by mariachis singing songs to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, the city's patron saint. The lead song is the traditional Mexican birthday song, Las Mañanitas. There's a 6am Mass. For more information, contact Ponce City Hall (tel. 787/284-4141). December 12.
Lighting of the Town of Bethlehem, between San Cristóbal Fort and Plaza San Juan Bautista in Old San Juan. This is the time that the most dazzling Christmas lights go on, and many islanders themselves drive into San Juan to see this dramatic lighting, the finest display of lights in the Caribbean at Christmas. During the Christmas season. (Visit www.sanjuan.pr for information on days and times.)
Hatillo Masks Festival, Hatillo. This tradition, celebrated since 1823, represents the biblical story of King Herod's ordering the death of all infant boys in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus. Men with colorful masks and costumes represent the soldiers, who run or ride through the town from early morning, looking for the children. There are food, music, and crafts exhibits in the town square. For more information, call tel. 787/898-4040. December 28.
In addition to the individual events described above, Puerto Rico has two yearlong series of special events.
Many of Puerto Rico's most popular events are during the Patron Saint Festivals (fiestas patronales) in honor of the patron saint of each municipality. The festivities, held in each town's central plaza, include religious and costumed processions, games, local food, music, and dance.
At Festival La Casita, prominent Puerto Rican musicians, dance troupes, and orchestras perform; puppet shows are staged; and painters and sculptors display their works. It happens every Saturday at Puerto Rico Tourism's La "Casita" Tourism Information Center, Plaza Darsenas, across from Pier 1, Old San Juan.
For more information about all these events, contact the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (tel. 800/866-7827 or 787/721-2400), La Princesa Building, Paseo La Princesa 2, Old San Juan, PR 00902.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.