Home > Dominican Republic When to Go
Updated: July 21, 2020
When is the Best Time to Visit the Dominican Republic?
The best time to visit the Dominican Republic is from March to May. The weather is great and avoids the hurricane season, with light rain occasionally. As the peak season has ended, prices are lower for hotels and excursions and crowds are also less.
- Best Time for Good Weather: December-April.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: March-May.
- Best Time for Saving Money: Mid-April/Autumn.
- Best Time for Partying: February and August.
- Best Time for Surfing & Kitesurfing: July and November.
- Best Time for Snorkeling & Diving: December-February.
- Best Time for Whale Watching: December-March.
- Best Time for White Water Rafting on Yaque del Norte River: July and August.
- Best Time for Lobster: July-February.
- Best Time to Visit the Dominican Republic: Dominican Republic now ranks as the most visited country in the Caribbean with over 6 million tourists arriving each year. Known for its beaches, resorts, and golfing, the best time to visit the Dominican Republic is from March to May when the peak tourist season is at its tail end and the dry season begins. Wait until the day after Easter to arrive when crowds thin out, especially at Puerto Cana, Puerto Plata, and the Amber Coast. In March, you’ll find smaller crowds than over the winter months, noticeably fewer children, and slightly lower hotel rates. Lower occupancy levels also mean you don’t have to plan months in advance. By mid-April, hotel rates really start to drop, fewer tourists are around, and the great weather continues, making it an ideal time to visit, especially if you’re hoping to avoid both crowds and the hurricane season. However, local businesses also take advantage of the off-season, meaning you’ll most likely run into a few places that are closed for renovations.
- Best Time to Book Hotels in the Dominican Republic: When visiting during the busy winter season – December to February – try to make reservations 2-3 months in advance. If booking for Christmas, try 4-6 months in advance as hotels fill up quickly and often run out of vacancies. It is recommended to make restaurant reservations and contact tour companies for any activities in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Best Time to Visit the Dominican Republic for Good Weather: The winter season between December and February is when the Dominican climate is at its optimum and is the best time for snorkeling, diving, and whale watching, but it is also the peak season. The weather in March and April is comfortable, with highs above 25°C and lows around 15°C. Since March to April is a relatively dry period in the country, it’s a great time to go hiking or try your hand at rappelling and canyoning in the mountains as the crowds won’t be as heavy. Avoid visiting in August and September as they mark the height of prime hurricane season, so it’s not a good time to visit for good weather.
- Best Time to Visit for Partying: February to mid-April brings the countrywide carnivals, Independence Day (February 27), Spring Break, and Easter holidays, making it the best times to visit for partying. February brings the first of 2 annual Carnival celebrations. Dominican Carnaval, which runs every Sunday in February around the country, features different parades in every city, with La Vega as the place to be at for big, bold celebrations. Locals march through the streets with masks and dance their way through the crowds while showcasing the country’s history. The second Carnival celebration is the Barcelo Desalia Festival where 5,000 party-goers dance on the beach to the best of the international electronic music scene. During Easter holidays or Semana Santa – Holy Week – hotels fill up in popular areas. Look out for beach closures due to a high level of drinking that weekend. In Santo Domingo, the Malecón is partly turned into a pedestrian zone and becomes a beach party in the city with games and music.
- Best Time to Visit for Bargains: After April 15, hotel prices can drop by as much as 50%. Cruise and airline prices also fall during this time of year. The temperature is only slightly warmer during the summer months and the country still hosts many activities. If you feel like taking your chances with the weather, you’ll find cheaper hotel prices and discounts on vacation packages, especially in September and October when the tourist volume is at its lowest, beaches and golf courses are rained out, and the threat of hurricanes is at its highest. Keep in mind, however, that local businesses often use this time of year for construction projects and renovations, including hotels and restaurants. If you’re traveling during this unpredictable period, make sure you contact your hotel to ensure there are no weather-related closures and or renovations.
- Best Time to Visit for Whale watching: A beautiful, natural display takes place every winter in Samaná Bay when thousands of humpback whales arrive to breed and give birth. December is the start of whale watching season, and every year, over 2,000 humpback whales are drawn to the warm waters at the Samana Peninsula. Samana Bay’s Sanctuary of the Humpback Whales is a top spot for catching a glimpse of newborn whales swimming with their mothers. March marks your last chance for whale watching.
Dominican Republic Travel Seasons
- High Season (mid-December to late February): Winter is the high travel season, between December and late February, when the Dominican climate is at its optimum and has cooled down a little from the summer. The weather is perfect for the beach: it’s usually dry and the temperature is moderated by cooling trade winds blowing in from the northeast. This is the most popular time to visit the Dominican Republic because many visitors find this the perfect opportunity to escape the cold weather.
- Shoulder Season (March-May, November to mid-December): The shoulder season sees fewer crowds and decent prices on accommodations compared to the winter high season, though there will be an uptick in visitors in March and April for spring break. The weather is also pleasant with sunny skies and average highs hovering around 25°C. You’ll find fewer crowds than over the winter months, noticeably fewer children, and slightly lower hotel rates. Lower occupancy levels also mean you don’t have to plan months in advance like you do in the winter.
- Low Season (June to November): Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, but that doesn’t mean that every day is a cyclonic threat. Storm activity and chances for hurricanes increase from the second week of August and peak through September. It’s a good idea to buy trip insurance if you plan to travel to the Dominican Republic during these 2 months. For most tourists, the increased humidity, rain, higher temperatures, and strong Caribbean storms make this a less desirable time to visit the country. However, if saving money is the goal, you can find hotel rooms in the low season for as little as US$21.
Weather in the Dominican Republic
Boasting 300 days of sunshine, the Dominican Republic’s climate is warm to hot with little variation temperature-wise throughout the year. However, it is the rainfall that helps mark the change in season. The weather in the Dominican Republic has very nominal differences from coast to coast, the most noteworthy being the impact of the mountainous portions of the country on the levels of rainfall between the southeastern coast (Santo Domingo and Punta Cana) and the northwestern coast (Puerto Plata). The Dominican Republic also experiences the effects of the Atlantic hurricane season which lasts from June 1 to November 30. Punta Cana, in particular, has been known to face severe tropical storms, with October being the rainiest month. You can avoid the worst of it by staying close to the coastline. The mountains see a lot more rain and the temperature can get very low at the highest elevation. Bring a light jacket if you want to experience cooler weather in the mountains of Jarabacoa and Constanza where temperatures get down to 10°C. On the coldest winter days, the mercury might even dip down to 0 in the tallest mountains. During the summer, the weather can get very hot and humid. Year-round humidity averages 80%, so comfort levels can vary greatly between just a few degrees in temperature.
Like the rest of the Caribbean, the rainy season is between late April and October for the southeastern coast, whereas the northwestern coast experiences less rainfall from June to September but experiences rains during the winter season, which is typically drier everywhere else. Rains occur mostly as short showers and thunderstorms, sometimes intense, but they do not reduce the sunshine hours by very much. The rain is concentrated in certain periods, so it might be dry for an entire week even in the rainy season. In this post, we have summarized the weather for both coasts rather than separating, as precipitation is the only difference between the coasts.
- Dominican Republic Weather in January: Though it is winter, it is very sunny and warm in January with the average daytime temperature being a very pleasant 23°C. However, night-time temperature can fall to as low as 19°C. January has one of the coldest overnight lows throughout the year in the country and is one of the wettest months for the northern coast, with around 12 rainy days in Puerto Plata, and 10 rainy days in Punta Cana in the southeast. The sun frequently shines for most of the year, but it does not shine as often as on the southern coast, especially in the months when the trade winds blow. Hence, in January, Puerto Plata sees an average of 6 hours of sunshine while Punta Cana sees 8 hours. Pack light summer clothing, your swimsuit, and flip flops but also come prepared with a rain jacket or an umbrella, as well as a light sweater and long pants for the evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 28°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 148mm, South: 65mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in February: February brings somewhat drier conditions to better enjoy the warm temperature and sun. The average daytime temperature is 25°C, with night-time temperature falling to 19°C. The water temperature is pleasantly warm, averaging 26°C, so make sure to pack a swimsuit. February still sees rain on the north coast with an average of 9 rainy days, but there’s still plenty of sun with 7 hours of daily sunshine in Puerto Plata and 9 hours in Punta Cana. Pack similarly to January with light summer clothing, swimsuits, comfortable shoes to take advantage of hikes on cooler days, and some rain gear as well as a light cardigan and pants for the evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 140mm, South: 55mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in March: March brings warmer temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and only a 12% chance of cloudy skies. Since March is a relatively dry month in the country, it’s a great time to go hiking or try your hand at rappelling and canyoning in the mountains. The average daily temperature is 26°C and night-time lows are on average 20°C, providing welcome relief from the heat (and ideal conditions for comfortable sleeping). The temperature can reach up to 29°C at the hottest part of the day, so make sure to seek shade, wear a wide brimmed hat, and use plenty of sunscreen. March still sees a decent amount of rain in the north, with around 8 rainy days. However, with 7 hours of daily sunshine, rain showers don’t last long and can provide a nice cooling effect and cut through the humidity. Punta Cana sees an average of 9 hours of sunshine and 7 rainy days. March is also the beginning of the seasonal lobster ban. Bring moisture-wicking clothes, plenty of t-shirts, shorts, sundresses, and your swimsuit, and pack a light cardigan for the evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 130mm, South: 55mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in April: The weather in April is very pleasant and can be nicely enjoyed since by mid-April, tourism slows down, the crowds are less, the beaches are more relaxed, and there are fewer parties. Temperatures continue to get warmer with maximum highs of 30°C while the daily average is usually 24°C. Overnight, the temperature drops to 20°C, so it is wise to bring a light layer for the evenings. Rainfall continues into April, so some extra rainproof gear will be necessary to pack since thunderstorms are known to suddenly appear. There are around 10 rainy days expected in April in the north and 7 rainy days in the south. Storms don’t last very long as there is an average of 7 hours of daily sunlight in the north and 9 hours in the south. Bring sunscreen, a sunhat, light summer layers, and a swimsuit since the ocean averages 26°C, making it ideal for very comfortable swimming conditions. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 115mm, South: 70.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in May: May is one of Dominican Republic’s wettest months, for both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana. With an average of 130mm of precipitation over 11 days for both coasts, packing good rain gear like a rain jacket, waterproof shoes, and umbrella is highly recommended. The rain in May can easily wash out scheduled golf games or planned beach days. The average daily temperature is 26°C in May, with highs of 30°C in the afternoon. The humidity is also often high at this time of year, so swimming in the Caribbean Sea, which is a lovely 27°C, will be a welcome respite from the muggy heat. Overnight, temperatures go down to a pleasant 20°C, so warm layers might be a good idea for some. The country does see around 7-8 hours of daily sunshine but with May being the rainiest month, there will be more cloud coverage. It is not the best month for underwater activities since storms can disrupt the sand, reducing visibility for activities like snorkeling and scuba diving, but the waves are perfect for beginners or intermediate surfers, so above-water activities are still possible. Pack light summer clothing, t-shirts, shorts, dresses, rain gear, and rainproof shoes. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation for North: 130mm, South: 125mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in June: June 1st marks the beginning of the hurricane season and since the Dominican Republic is smack in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane belt, it can be a real threat. Despite the risk of hurricanes, June typically tends to have less rain than May or even October. Like with other tropical destinations, the rainy season here means you might find short, heavy showers lasting only a little while, with the sky clearing fairly quickly afterward. There is only a 10% chance of seeing clouds throughout the month. Puerto Plata sees around 6 days with rain with only 50mm of precipitation while Punta Cana gets 105mm and 9 rainy days, so rain gear may be needed if you are visiting the southeastern coast. Light summer layers are recommended for both coasts since June is one of the hottest months in the Dominican Republic with an average daily temperature of 28°C, with afternoon highs of 32°C. Night-time lows barely dip down, with an average overnight temperature of 22°C, so warm layers most likely won’t be necessary for most travelers but booking a room with a fan or AC might be desirable to stay comfortable while sleeping. During this time of year, the amount of daily sunshine starts to increase to around 8 hours. Pack light summer clothing, plenty of sun protection including sunscreen, a wide brimmed sun hat, and sunglasses. Bring swim gear to take advantage of the lovely warm sea which averages 28°C in June. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 50mm, South: 105mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in July: The weather is wet but sunny, so you’ll see some showers but there will also be plenty of chances for relaxing on the beach or swimming in the warm sea. Precipitation and temperatures increase just slightly in July with an average of 70mm of precipitation over 7 days for Puerto Plata and 80mm over 9 days for Punta Cana. The average daytime temperature is 29°C in July, with highs of 33°C in the afternoon. Swimming is a great reprieve from the daily 8-9 long hours of sunshine which contribute generously to warm and comfortable ocean temperatures. Overnight temperatures average 23°C, so booking a room with a fan or AC is recommended to have a comfortable sleep. Same as June, pack light summer clothing, plenty of sun protection including sunscreen, a wide brimmed sun hat, and sunglasses. Warm layers won’t be necessary but a light rain jacket and waterproof shoes would be wise to stay dry during the rain showers that tend to last an hour. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 70mm, South: 80mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in August: August in one of the warmest months with average daily temperatures of 31°C and night-time lows of 23°C. As the weather continues to get warmer, the hurricane threat begins to increase. August, along with September, are usually the 2 most active months for tropical storms, so visitors are advised to watch forecasts and plan accordingly. Although the chance of precipitation increases, there are still plenty of days to enjoy the beach and swim in the 29°C ocean. August sees around 9 days with rain and an average of 70mm of precipitation in the north, and 105mm of rain over 10 rainy days in the south. Hence, light rain gear may be needed. The amount of daily sunshine averages 8.5 hours with around 12.5 hours of daylight. Despite the rain and cloud coverage, the UV index remains high, so sun protection is necessary to prevent burning. Pack light summer clothing, plenty of sun protection including sunscreen, a wide brimmed sun hat, and sunglasses. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 70mm, South: 105mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in September: September brings the start of the second, more serious wet season for the Dominican Republic. The weather continues to get warmer and the threat of hurricanes increases. During this period, the Caribbean experiences the most tropical storms, many of which are really big, so visitors are advised to take care. Mid-September marks the peak of the hurricane season for some areas in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Since September and October present the highest threat for hurricanes, some of the cheapest hotel rates all year can be found during these months. Precipitation spikes to 100mm over a stretch of 10 days for Punta Cana in the south, while Puerto Plata in the north receives 65mm over 7 days. However, there is still a good amount of sunshine with the country getting about 8 hours of daily sunlight and only some cloud coverage. The average daily temperature is 28°C in September, with highs of 33°C in the afternoon. The humidity is very high at this time of year, so swimming in the Caribbean Sea, which is a very warm 29°C, will be a welcome respite from the muggy heat. Overnight, temperatures go down to 22°C but the humidity does not let up, making it very uncomfortable and fairly oppressive, so you will most likely require air-conditioning. Pack light summer clothing, some rainproof gear, and plenty of sun protection including sunscreen, a wide brimmed sun hat, and sunglasses. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 65mm, South: 100mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in October: October brings high precipitation, warm ocean temperatures, and hot, humid days. It is the beginning of one of the wettest periods of the year and with the ocean temperature remaining very warm, the development of tropical storms is possible in the right conditions. The average precipitation rises to 150mm over a stretch of 11 days for Punta Cana, while Puerto Plata receives 110mm over 10 days. Some of this rain appears as tropical downpours, so most showers rarely last very long. The daily average temperature hovers around 27°C, increasing to a maximum of 32°C with 80% humidity. Finding a hotel with AC and very easy beach/pool access is key as nightly lows only dip down to 22°C. With around 7.5 hours of daily sunshine, packing rainproof shoes, a light rain jacket or umbrella, along with light summer clothing and plenty of sun protection is highly recommended. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 110mm, South: 150mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in November: November is the last month of the hurricane season and also the first of the 2 wettest months in the Dominican Republic. The average precipitation rises to a whopping 230mm over a stretch of 14 days for Puerto Plata while Punta Cana receives 115mm over 12 days. Even though winter is approaching, the temperature stays warm, averaging 26°C. The evening low drops to around 19°C in the north which might require long sleeves or a light jacket. The average nightly low in the south is 23°C. The humidity does not decrease very much from October, so a hotel with AC for comfortable sleeping conditions might still be necessary. The sunshine does decrease in November, with an average of 6 hours of sunlight by the end of the month for Puerto Plata and 8 hours for Punta Cana. Pack layers if you’re visiting in November: light summer clothes along with long sleeves, rainproof jackets, and shoes for the cooler nights and rainy days. Even though the UV index is lower in November, sunscreen and other sun protection is recommended as the UV index averages around 8, which is high enough to cause burning. Tanning will be safest before 10 am and after 4 pm but only with a good application of sunscreen, so make sure to pack some. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 230mm, South: 115mm.)
- Dominican Republic Weather in December: December is the second wettest month of the year for the northwestern coast, with some of the coolest temperatures of the year. The average daytime temperature is a very pleasant 26°C, although night-time temperatures fall to as low as 18°C in Puerto Plata and 23°C in Punta Cana. December has one of the coldest overnight lows throughout the year in the Dominican Republic and it is also one of the wettest months for the northern coast with around 15 rainy days and 230mm of precipitation. On the other hand, Punta Cana in the south sees only 80mm of rain over 11 days. In Puerto Plata, even though the sun shines for most of the year, it does not shine as often as on the southern coast, especially in the months when the trade winds blow. Hence, December sees an average of 6 hours of sunshine in Puerto Plata and 8 hours in Punta Cana. Pack light summer clothing, your swimsuit, and flip flops, but also come prepared with a rain jacket or an umbrella as well as a light sweater and long pants for the evening hours. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Precipitation for the North: 230mm, South: 80mm.)
Dominican Republic Holidays, Events, and Festivals
Dominican Republic in January
- New Year’s Day/Año Nuevo (January 1) – New Year’s Day is a public holiday and schools and most businesses are closed. It is usually celebrated at home with a massive dinner accompanied by dance and music. On New Year’s Day, Dominicans keep their doors and windows open as they believe that the evil spirits will run away giving space to good spirits. It’s common for Dominicans to give their houses fresh coats of paint for the occasion. If you visit the country in January, look out for the freshly painted houses and new brooms sitting outside as they are bought to signify the new year.
- Three Kings’ Day (January 5–6) – The major gift-giving day of the Dominican year. It is a day off for the general population and schools and most businesses are closed.
- Virgen de Altagracia (late January) – The most important religious day on the Dominican calendar is a day of intercessory prayers and a tribute to the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Altagracia, with a massive gathering of celebrants in Higüey. Once the prayers end, the parties begin. Depending on what day of the week 21st January falls on, this holiday can be moved to a Monday or Friday. It is a day off for the general population and schools and most businesses are closed.
- Juan Pablo Duarte Day (late January) – This public holiday celebrates Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the biggest fighters for the country’s independence, and is held on the closest Monday to Duarte’s birthday, January 26. Public fiestas are held in all the major towns with the biggest in Santiago and La Vega.
Dominican Republic in February
- Independence Day (February 27) – Dominican Republic’s National Day, commemorating independence from Haiti in 1844. The anniversary of independence from Haiti coincides with the last day of Dominican Republic’s annual Carnaval. It is a national holiday.
- Carnaval (February 27) – Dominican Republic’s biggest annual celebration. There’s a street party every Sunday of the month, culminating in a massive all-day all-night party along the Malecón seafront with floats, processions, costumed performers, and lots of street dancing, rum drinking, and street food. Masks are worn by the parade participants, symbolizing good and evil. The largest festivals can be found in La Vega, Santo Domingo, and Bonao. In Santo Domingo, the big event is 2 or 3 days before February 27, but festivities range around the country in all the towns and cities. Some 30,000 merrymakers parade along the Malecón in Santo Domingo.
- Cabarete Sand Castle Festival – Cabarete is transformed for 10 days every February into a giant sand sculpture park.
Dominican Republic in March
- March 19 de Marzo (March 19) – The major fiesta in Azua, in honor of the battle in which the Haitians were defeated to ensure Dominican independence.
Dominican Republic in April
- Santa Samana: The Christian Holy Week and one of the most celebrated holidays throughout the year during the week preceding Easter Sunday. It is also the most important week of Haitian and Dominican Vodú. Traditional gagá festivals take place in the Haitian bateyes (sugar worker settlements). The fusion of Afro-Dominican Vodú celebrations makes this a really interesting time of year to travel the country. Many Dominicans are given the week off work, so many activities might not be available if you are planning on visiting during this time. Alcohol is banned in the towns and cities of the Dominican Republic throughout the week, so people visiting city centers will not be able to order or purchase alcohol. Restaurants and bars at all-inclusive resorts are exempt from this ban. Some resorts will close their bars and excursions on Good Friday (the Friday of Holy Week).
- Carnival Cimarrón – Held in the same week as Santa Samana. The townspeople of Cabral wear devil horns and demon masks, descend on the city from the lagoon, and whack each other and passers-by with balloons and whips.
Dominican Republic in May
- Santa Cruz (May 2–3) – A popular 9-night celebration in El Seibo, with a cattle procession to a 16th-century church on the final day and a very different spring festival in Azua and Baní, where all of the crosses in the area are covered with brightly colored paper.
Dominican Republic in June
- Espiritu Santo Festival (early June) – Although honored by the entire country, the festivities are in Villa Mella near Santo Domingo. African instruments are played throughout the town to show appreciation for things like crops, rain, and earth.
- San Juan Bautista Festival (3rd week of June) – A religious festival or fiesta patronal in San Juan de la Maguana in honor of John the Baptist and his African counterpart Chango – a god or spirit lifted directly from the West African Yoruba religion.
Dominican Republic in July
- Festival del Merengue (last week of July) – Every year since 1967, top bands perform for 6 days at Santo Domingo’s seaside promenade, El Malecón, and related events are held throughout the city of Santo Domingo to celebrate the traditional Merengue Festival, dedicated to the Dominican Republic’s national dance, merengue.
- Santiago Apóstol (July 24–26) – Celebrating Santiago, the warrior patron saint of the Christian armies that conquered Moorish Spain. A large civic festival is held in Santiago with a lot of partying around the Monument.
Dominican Republic in August
- Fiesta Patria de la Restauración (Restoration Day – August 16) – Nationwide celebration of independence from Spain, with large parties in Santiago around the Monument and around Plaza España in Santo Domingo.
Dominican Republic in September
- San Miguel (September 29) – Also known as Belíe Belcán, San Miguel is honored with major festivals taking place in the capital’s Villa Mella and barrio San Miguel, Haina, and across the country. Green-and-white-frosted cakes are consumed on this day.
- Our Lady of Mercedes (September 24) – A national holiday in the Dominican Republic, the day honors the Virgin Mary on the feast day established by the Mercedian order in the 17th century.
Dominican Republic in October
- Puerto Plata Festival (dates vary) – Like the Merengue Festival, this is the major cultural event on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, a weeklong festival with parades, food fairs, costumes, and the best merengue, blues, jazz, and folk bands. Performers from all over the country come to perform traditional songs and dances, along with salsa, merengue steps, and African spirituals in Fuerte San Felipe at the end of the Malecón.
- Descubrimiento de América/“Discovery Day” (October 12) – Christopher Columbus’s arrival is not as widely celebrated as it used to be, but because of the country’s strong link to Spain, festivities in Santo Domingo continue, culminating with celebrations at Columbus’ tomb at Faro a Colón and at the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
- Dominican Baseball – The start of the baseball season.
Dominican Republic in November
- Todo los Santos (November 1) – A major Vodú festival in the San Juan de la Maguana and southern border region. Locals proceed to the cemetery to ask for the release of their relatives for the day.
- Constitution Day (early November) – Until 2011, this public holiday was held on November 6th. Since then, it has been observed on the nearest Monday or Friday to that date to create a 3-day weekend. This holiday marks the adoption of the country’s first Constitution on this day way back in 1844. It is a day off for the general population and schools and most businesses are closed.
Dominican Republic in December
- Christmas Eve (December 24) – Christmas Eve in the Dominican Republic is known as La Noche Buena – the “Good Night”. Most businesses will close by 6 pm on Christmas Eve and some will not be open at all. In most tourist areas, businesses are open, but it is safer to have everything you need beforehand. The main celebration happens on La Noche Buena. Dominicans often gather for a big family feast, with traditional food and drink, and sing Christmas songs. Many Dominicans go to church on Christmas Eve as well for a midnight Catholic mass service known as La Misa del Gallo – “Rooster’s Mass”. In the Dominican Republic, one of the most popular La Misa del Gallo celebrations takes place at Cathedral de Santa Maria in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. This service is one of the largest and most elaborate in the whole country.
- Christmas Day (December 25) – The Christmas season in Dominican Republic lasts for about 3 months, more or less, starting in October. There are private parties and community gatherings, firework displays, and winter markets everywhere. Christmas Day is a public holiday and everyone recuperates from Christmas Eve. There is also a mass usually held at noon.
- New Year’s Eve (December 31) – New Year’s Eve in the Dominican Republic is celebrated by cleaning the house, buying new clothes to wear in the color that signifies what you want from the new year, and a big feast with family and friends. Prior to the parties, however, the most important part of the day is cleaning the house thoroughly before the New Year rolls in. No one touches the broom on New Year’s Day as sweeping anything might ‘sweep’ your luck away. Locals discard old brooms and purchase new ones that are left outside the doors and brought inside the next day. Some Dominicans also go to the extent of repainting their houses in order to make them look perfect and welcome lucky spirits. The eve culminates with the clock striking midnight and what is known as “El Cañonazo” in the Dominican Republic. Everyone exchanges hugs and toasts with their families, friends, and anyone they run into on the street to start the year off in a friendly fashion. After the Cañonazo, most people head out for parties and celebrations. Gathering to watch the sunrise along the Malecón (boardwalk) is common in coastal cities like Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata. Depending on where you are staying, most resorts have a New Year’s Eve celebration to partake in.
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