SD › Best Time to Visit Puerto Rico
Updated: February 8, 2021
When is the best time to visit Puerto Rico?
The best time to visit Puerto Rico is in the spring, mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and Easter break and just before the rainy summer. The weather is still sunny, warm, and breezy, with plenty of sunshine and deals on travel and accommodations.
- Best Time to Book Hotels in Puerto Rico: If planning to travel in the winter, make reservations 2 to 3 months in advance. At certain hotels, it’s almost impossible to book accommodations for Christmas and the month of February less than 12 months in advance.
- Best Time to visit Puerto Rico for Good Weather: The coolest and least rainy period in Puerto Rico runs from December to March – outside of the hurricane season – which is partly why it is the most crowded and expensive time to visit. The winter months bring warm, sunny days with minimal rain and cool trade winds that keep the days and evenings comfortable and not sweltering like the summer months. More in particular, since it is generally the least rainy periods, the best time is February-March along the north and east coasts, and from December to March along the south and west coasts.
- Best time to Save Money: As a rule of thumb, the height of hurricane season is typically the cheapest time to travel to Puerto Rico. Hotels offer sales with room rates being 20% to 40% lower than high season or holiday weekends. It’s easy to find good deals on rooms that normally cost over $350, dropping as low as $80 a night – though be aware that this is also during the island’s unpredictable hurricane season. An emerging trend to be aware of if looking for a cheap holiday in Puerto Rico is that smaller properties are beginning to charge higher rates on weekends and holidays than during the week, rather than seasonal fluctuations in price.
- Best Time to Visit Puerto Rico to Party: Other than visiting during the busy Spring Break season which runs from late February to March, the best time to party in Puerto Rico is during the festive holiday season at the end of the year – beginning in late November with Christmas celebrations that last well into January. Peak festival season in Puerto Rico kicks off right after Thanksgiving and goes into mid-January, wrapping up with Fiesta de la Calle San Sebastián in Old San Juan.
- Best Time for Beaches: Starting just after Labor Day, many Puerto Ricans do not go to the beach because it is just too cold for them. In October, November, and early December, visit one of the many beautiful beaches like Playa Sucia or Buye on a weekday, or perhaps take the ferry to a small island like Gilligan’s Island off the Guanica coast, and find an almost empty beach. Beaches start to fill up with more tourists starting in January, and are most crowded in late February to March with Spring Breakers.
- Best Time to Snorkel: Puerto Rico offers great main island snorkeling spots with healthy coral reefs and beautiful beaches. It is also home to fantastic offshore islands with some of the best snorkeling beaches in the Caribbean that are world-renowned. The summer months, especially July, are the best time to snorkel, when the surf is down and the water is calmer.
Travel Seasons in Puerto Rico
- High Season (December-early April, July & August): Mid-December to March is the most popular time of year to visit as holidays begin and the cold weather sets in in the northern hemisphere. December to April sees an average daily temperature of 28°C, less rain, and cooler evenings. January, February, and March are the driest months of the year, which is when tourists flock to Puerto Rico to enjoy the mild but warm and sunny weather on the island country. Summer is the low season for off-island visitors, but July & August is the second tourism high season, especially for hotels and destinations outside San Juan – this is when most islanders take a vacation.
- Shoulder Season (mid-April to June): Spring to early summer is the shoulder season in Puerto Rico – mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and Easter break and just before the rainy hurricane season. The weather is still sunny, warm, and breezy, and the winter crowds have gone home. Some advantages of visiting during the shoulder season are full year-round resort facilities being offered at reduced rates, summer sales at resort boutiques, eating at top restaurants without needing advance reservations, rental car availability, no long waits for golf course tee times, quicker access to tennis courts and watersports, and cheap package tour fares.
- Low Season (September-November): The height of hurricane season is the low season in Puerto Rico. With higher precipitation, hot and humid temperatures, tropical storms and the risk of hurricanes, there are much fewer tourists. The odds of getting hit directly by a hurricane are quite rare, however, destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 drastically affected the island, so be sure to purchase travel insurance in advance. The low season does offer some of the best deals. Reduced rates are common during this time of year. Hotels cut rates from 20% to 60%, and tours and shops often cut prices to remain competitive. Reduced rates come hand in hand with renovations. The low season is also when hoteliers save their serious repairs and their major renovations for when they have fewer guests.
Puerto Rico Weather by Month
Puerto Rico enjoys a warm and humid tropical climate. The wet season is hot and muggy, running from May to October. The winter is relatively cool from December to March, with November and April being mild variations of both seasons. It is important to note that the weather in Puerto Rico can vary depending on the coast, but not by too much. San Juan in the north experiences an average of 460mm more rain per year than Ponce on the southern coast. The southern coast experiences slightly higher temperatures in winter by 2-3°C due the trade winds blowing from the interior. There is also Central Puerto Rico which is crossed by a mountain range called Cordillera Central. Here, the temperature decreases with increasing altitude. Adjuntas, at 500m above sea level, has high temperatures that range from 25°C in winter to 29°C in the summer. While on Cerro Maravilla, the fourth highest peak on the island at 1,200m, high temperatures range from 20°C in winter to 23°C in the summer. The mountains also receive a lot more rainfall, between 3,000 and 4,000 mm annually. For the purpose of this article, we have not broken down the weather by region since the variations between Northern Puerto Rico and Southern Puerto Rico are minimal, and though the mountains tend to experience lower temperatures and more precipitation, we recommend always being prepared for cooler temperatures and rain if traveling to the mountains during the trip.
- Puerto Rico Weather in January: January is one of the coolest months of the year in Puerto Rico – making it one of the most popular times to visit as the average daily temperature is a mild 27°C with a nighttime low of 21°C. January is one of the drier months in Puerto Rico with San Juan in the north getting an average of 13 days with rain while Ponce in the south receives half that with 6 rainy days. An average of 8 hours of daily sunshine leaves plenty of time for excursions and activities, but if intending to go to the mountains or spending time on a boat, make sure to pack a light sweater as it can feel quite cool. The sea is warm for swimming all year round, averaging 26°C during the winter months. If visiting in January, pack a waterproof rain jacket along with a few light sweaters and long pants for cooler evenings as well as a swimsuit, t-shirts, dresses, shorts, sunglasses, and sunscreen as it can be quite hot and the UV rays are very strong. (Average Max Temperature: 28°C. Average Precipitation: North – 80mm, South – 25mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in February: February is the driest month of the year. Ponce in the south receives the same amount of rain as January with 6 day with rain, while San Juan in the north gets an average of 10 rainy days. The average daily temperature in February is a mild 28°C with a nighttime low of 21°C. The sunshine remains at an average of 8 hours per day and the sea temperature remains a comfortable 26°C – ideal conditions for spending time at the beach and swimming in the ocean. Pack similar to January, remembering those warm layers for the cool evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 29°C. Average Precipitation: North – 50mm, South – 25mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in March: Puerto Rico tourism reaches the highest point of the year in March, in large part because of spring break. This means more crowds on beaches, and with an average daily temperature of 28°C with a nighttime low of 22°C, March brings ideal weather to spend time on the beach and swimming in the ocean. The number of hours with sunshine increases to 9, providing more time to spend on outdoor excursions and activities. The south coast experiences 6 days of rain while the north coast gets an average of 10 rainy days in March. Bring light clothes, a sun hat, and also a sweatshirt for the evening. If trekking to the mountains, bring a jacket, warm layers, and hiking boots. The UV index is high so pack similar to February and ensure lots of sunscreen when out in the sun. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: North – 60mm, South – 40mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in April: The weather in April is warmer than the previous 3 months and doesn’t have the humidity or storms that the summer months bring. By mid-month, Easter tourism slows down, the crowds lessen, and the beaches are more relaxed with fewer tourists. The average daily temperature is 29ºC and the average low increases to 23ºC. The sun shines for 9 hours, bringing more time to enjoy outdoor and water activities especially as the sea warms up to 27ºC. April is right before the beginning of the wet season so expect a little more rain. San Juan in the north gets an average of 10 days with rain while Ponce in the south sees an average of 7 rainy days. Pack light summer clothes, a sun hat, sunscreen, a few light rainproof layers for cooler and wet evenings, and, of course, swimsuits. (Average Max Temperature: 30°C. Average Precipitation: North – 90mm, South – 55mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in May: May marks the beginning of Puerto Rico’s rainy season. There is an increase in precipitation on both coasts. San Juan gets an average of 12 days with rain while Ponce experiences less rain with an average of 10 rainy days. Puerto Rico’s rainy season lasts from May to October, which seems like a long time, but the showers usually don’t last more than 30 minutes. Rain often falls in one part of the day – which means sunshine the other part of the day. Average daily sunshine decreases to 8 hours but that still leaves plenty of time to enjoy the beach or head out for a trek. Make sure to pack sunscreen and sun gear to avoid UV damage. The average daily temperature in May increases to 30°C and the average low is 24°C. Bring tropics friendly, lightweight clothing, swimwear, and a light sweatshirt or shawl for air conditioned places. Light rain gear and a waterproof bag will help during a sudden tropical thunderstorm. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: North – 145mm, South – 95mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in June: June marks the beginning of the hurricane season in Puerto Rico which lasts until November. Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The last time before Hurricane Maria, the island hadn’t experienced that severe of a storm since 1931. Parts of Puerto Rico are still recovering from Hurricane Maria, but the island is rebuilding. Traveling to Puerto Rico during Hurricane season can mean huge savings in airfare and hotels, but purchasing trip insurance and monitoring weather reports is highly recommended. In general, satellite forecasts give adequate warnings so that precautions can be taken. Despite the beginning of the hurricane season, precipitation doesn’t drastically increase in June but San Juan does see an average of 15 rainy days while Ponce gets an average of 8 days with rain. The average daily temperature in June is 31°C with a nighttime low of 25°C so finding accomodation with AC or at the very least a fan will be a must. Average daily sunshine increases to 9 hours and the sea temperature increases to 28°C so swimming is a great way to cool down. Pack as for May with a mixture of light summer clothing and rain gear along with lots of good sun protection. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: North – 120mm, South – 65mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in July: July brings a second tourism season for locals who tend to tend to take a vacation during one of the hottest months of the year. July means muggy heat across the island, which is sometimes hard to bear, even though it is tempered by the breeze. The average daily temperature is 32°C with an average low of 24°C which can sometimes increase to 26°C in San Juan. The daytime temperature rarely exceeds 34°C but moisture makes the heat sweltering. During the night it can be very warm and sticky. The rains are mostly in the form of intense showers or thunderstorms and are a welcome relief from the overwhelming heat and humidity. The south gets an average of 8 days with rain while the north experiences double the rain with an average of 15 rainy days. There is an average of 9 hours of daily sunshine and the sea temperature remains 28°C so swimming is a great way to cool down. Bring lightweight, tropics-friendly clothing, a light raincoat, and waterproof bag for thunderstorms. (Average Max Temperature: 34°C. Average Precipitation: North – 125mm, South – 65mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in August: August is one of the wettest months of the year with San Juan getting an average of 16 days of rain and Ponce seeing an average of 10 rainy days. August is the first of 3 months where the risk of bad weather is much higher which causes tourism to slow down, with far fewer events and festivals taking place across the island from August to October. The average daily temperature is a humid and sticky 32°C with an average nighttime low of 24°C. The number of daily sunshine hours remains at 9 and UV levels are high, so packing good sun protection and carrying a water bottle during the day to stay hydrated and protected from sun damage is important. The sea is very warm at 29°C – ideal for beach days and swimming on the non-rainy days. Pack as for July and try to book accommodations with air conditioning to remain cool and comfortable. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation: North – 150mm, South – 110mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in September: The number of visitors to Puerto Rico plunges to the lowest point of the year in September as it is the height of the hurricane season. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. September is a good month for empty beaches and cheap hotel prices for anyone willing to take a chance with the weather. The average rainfall increases with both coasts receiving an average of 150mm of rain, San Juan getting it over 14 days and Ponce, 11 rainy days. The average daily temperature is a sticky and humid 32°C with a nighttime low of 25°C. The sea remains warm as a bath at 29°C but with heavy rain expected in September, beach days may not be as consistent as other months. Sunshine decreases to 8 hours, so warm sunny days are possible but packing an umbrella, light rain jacket, and a waterproof bag is recommended. Also bring light summer clothing, swimsuits, waterproof shoes, bug repellant, and plenty of sun protection and aloe vera for burns as UV rays remain high. (Average Max Temperature: 33°C. Average Precipitation: North – 150mm, South – 150mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in October: October is the wettest month for Puerto Rico’s southern coast with 13 rainy days. San Juan on the north coast gets nearly as much rain with an average of 15 days. The rain can be a downpour that lasts a few minutes or continuous rainfall that lasts a few hours. The average daytime temperature in October is 30°C with an average low of 24°C, so finding accommodations with air conditioning is recommended to stay comfortable since there will be quite a bit of time spent indoors. The hours of daily sunshine decreases to 7 so while outdoor activities and beach days are still possible in October, they are not guaranteed and most likely won’t be possible on consecutive days. If visiting in October, be prepared for anything. Pack similar to September and plan for indoor activities. Make sure to bring books, games, and other entertainment for the extra rainy days. (Average Max Temperature: 32°C. Average Precipitation: North – 150mm, South – 160mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in November: November is the last month of the hurricane season. For San Juan in the north, November is one of the rainiest months with an average of 140mm over 16 days. Ponce in the south sees a decrease in precipitation with only 10 days with rain. The average daily temperature in Puerto Rico is 30°C with a nighttime low of 22°C. The number of hours of daily sunshine remains at 7, so while enjoying beautiful sunny days on the island are very much possible on the southern coast, plan and pack as in October if visiting the northern coast. Pack light weight summer clothing, swimsuits, sun and rain protection, as well as some light layers for the evenings, and indoor activities and games. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: North – 140mm, South – 95mm.)
- Puerto Rico Weather in December: December brings the end to hurricane season and marked decrease in precipitation – especially on the southern coast. San Juan in the north still experiences an average of 16 days with rain but 25mm less than November while Ponce in the south gets an average of 7 rainy days. The average daily temperature begins to drop to more comfortable levels, hovering around 29°C – the average low is 23°C in San Juan and 20°C in Ponce. The hours of daily sunshine remain at 7 hours but with the decrease in precipitation, December is an ideal month for sightseeing, beach days, and underwater activities like scuba diving and snorkeling. Pack a variety of summer clothing, swimsuits, and sun protection, as well as a few warm layers for the evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 31°C. Average Precipitation: North – 115mm, South – 35mm.)
Puerto Rico Events and Festivals
Puerto Rico in January
- Día de Año Nuevo (January 1) – New Year’s Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population and schools and most businesses are closed. It is a holiday that most Puerto Ricans spend celebrating with family and friends. There are a few Puerto Rican traditions the day before, including throwing water out windows to drive away evil spirits, falling backwards into ocean waves at midnight to keep evil spirits and bad luck away, and spreading sugar around the outside of homes to make the new year sweet.
- Fiesta de los Reyes Magos (January 6) – Also known as the Epiphany, this day is celebrated as part of the holiday season in Puerto Rico to commemorate the Wise Men. Towns have festivals with parades featuring locals and actors dressed up as the Three Wise Men who hand out presents to children. The most famous festivals are in the towns of Juana Díaz and Isabela.
- Natalicio de Eugenio María de Hostos (January 11) – A public holiday in honor of the prominent writer who fought for Puerto Rican Independence. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. This holiday originally was celebrated on January 11, but recently it’s been held on the second Monday of January. In 2021, the holiday will actually be celebrated on January 11.
- Fiesta de la Calle San Sebastián (Jan 14-17) – Called ‘Sanse’ by locals, this is Puerto Rico’s version of Mardi Gras. The unofficial end to the holiday season, this festival takes over Old San Juan from Wednesday evening until Sunday during the third week of January. Day time festivities fill the plazas with food vendors, art fairs, stages for live music, dance, circus performances, and parades of Vejigantes – a folkloric character sporting bright colors, a mask, and wings. In the evening it becomes a street festival.
- Festival de la Novilla (third week of January) – This festival celebrates a heifer with festivities in the rural town of San Sebastian. Celebrated on the third Sunday of January, a cow dressed in a crown of flowers leads a parade through the town with elaborate floats following behind. The festival includes live bands performing all types of music, including folk and salsa, artisans and food vendors selling their wares in the town square, and amusement park rides.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January) – Martin Luther King Jr. Day is both a US Federal Holiday and an official holiday for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He became a prominent spokesman for nonviolent activism for civil rights and against racial discrimination.
- Sunset concert at the Plaza Darsenas (last Sunday of every month 5:30pm-8:30pm) – Free to attend, with food trucks and people dancing to traditional and modern music.
- Le Lo Lai Festival (Every Tuesday & Sunday) – This is a year-round festival called Le Lo Lai celebrates Puerto Rico’s Taíno Indian, Spanish, and African heritage. Performances showcasing island music and folklore take place every Tuesday at Fort San Cristobal and every Sunday at Cuartel de Ballaja in Old San Juan. It’s sponsored by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
Puerto Rico in February
- San Blas de Illescas Half Marathon – Considered the top running event in Puerto Rico, approximately 1,500 runners and 250,000 spectators visit Centro del Universo, Coamo for the sporting event. The race started in 1963 and has hosted participants from over 50 countries.
- Maricao Coffee Festival (mid-February) – One of the country’s oldest festivals and traditions is to celebrate the end of the annual coffee harvest with a massive festival. Held for 3 days over a weekend in mid-February, festivities include vibrant parades, arts and crafts stalls, and music.
- Día de los Presidentes (February 18) – George Washington’s birthday is observed as an official government holiday in both the United States and Puerto Rico. George Washington was the first president of the United States. The holiday is an official day off and a long weekend for government employees, so expect popular tourist attractions and especially beaches to be busy during the President’s Day Weekend.
- Carnaval Ponceño (February 10-16) – one of the oldest celebrations in the Western Hemisphere occurs during the week before Ash Wednesday, the last week of February. This annual festival in the town of Ponce lasts a full week and includes a parade of Vejigantes, a local folkloric character wearing bright multicolored jumpsuits, long-nosed masks, and wings. The parade also includes the appearance of King Momo, the coronation of the Carnival Queen, a masquerade ball, and the Burial of the Sardine – a simulated funeral marking the beginning of Lent.
- Puerto Rico Open (late February) – The Professional Golf Association has held a tournament in Puerto Rico on Coco Beach since 2008. Thousands of attendees gather to watch the hundreds of professional golfers playing the championship course. The Open lasts typically for 4 days.
Puerto Rico in March
- Día Nacional de la Zalsa (early March) – The island’s largest salsa event takes place at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, for a full day of Puerto Rico’s best Salsa musicians.
- Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud (March 22) – Commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1873, Emancipation Day is an official holiday of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. At the time that slavery was abolished, the island was still a colony of Spain. The event continues to be commemorated today with festivities that include dancing to plena and bomba music, singing, and eating Caribbean cuisine. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
- Festival de la Ballena (end of March) – Held at El Faro Recreational Park in Rincon, this festival celebrates the whale migration season. Held since 2004, festivities include a craft fair, children’s entertainment, live music, kiosks, and food vendors. It is said that the best place to watch the migration and spot whales is from the The Rincon Lighthouse.
- Taste of Rum (early March) – Puerto Rico’s 1-day rum festival, held in Old San Juan since 2009, is one of the biggest rum festivals in the world with over 3,000 attendees. The festival is focused on promoting the local rum industry with over 12 different rum brands to try.
Puerto Rico in April
- Viernes Santo (April 10) – Primarily a religious holiday, Good Friday is an official public holiday in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Good Friday takes place on the Friday before Easter, with all schools and businesses closing for the day.
- Domingo de la Resurrección (April 12) – Easter Sunday is a religious holiday and most businesses in Puerto Rico remain open on this day. Christians will generally attend church services in the morning, then celebrate the day with family and friends.
- Natalicio de José de Diego (third Monday in April) – This official public holiday is in honor of José de Diego y Martínez, who was known as the “Father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement” and was the first president of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives. The holiday is an official day off and a long weekend for government employees, so expect the popular tourist attractions and especially beaches to be busy.
Puerto Rico in May
- La Campechada – A celebration of Puerto Rican art and culture, with each year dedicated to a prominent artist. The city changes year to year, so plan in advance.
- Casals Festival (May 22 – June 7) – It’s considered the Caribbean’s biggest classical music event and pays tribute to the famous cellist, conductor, and composer Pablo Casals. Founded in 1957 by Casals himself, the festival gathers artists and musicians from around the world. Held primarily at the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center, the festival takes place over several weeks and is dedicated to preserving the memories of Casals’ legacy and career.
- Recordación de los Muertos de la Guerra (last Monday of May) – A US Federal holiday and an official holiday for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May each year. As an official holiday, schools, banks, and all businesses close for the day.
- Festival de la Piña Paradisíaca (May 29-31) – The “Pineapple Festival” is celebrated every year in La Parguera, an oceanfront community in the southern town of Lajas. The festival features vendors selling locally grown pineapples and dozens of local agricultural products and fried foods, local bands, activities for children, and a 5K race through the marina and mangrove coves.
Puerto Rico in June
- Fiesta del Mango (June 9-11) – This festival in Mayaguez celebrates the mango with various recipe contests that use it as an ingredient. There are exhibitions of varieties of mangoes, music by several bands, dance classes, artisan kiosks, and more.
- Saborea (June 4-6) – A large 3-day gastronomy event in Puerto Rico for the past 12 years full of events and activities dedicated to positioning Puerto Rico as the culinary capital of the Carribbean. Events include a sit down dinner with 20 renowned local chefs who cook culinary creations for attendees. The event benefits Puerto Rico’s Educational Fund for people in the hospitality industry, and is geared toward the local tourism industry’s development.
- Puerto Rico Restaurant Week – A once-a-year dining event that showcases Puerto Rico as a gastronomic destination while highlighting the diversity of culinary experiences that are available on the island. The event is held at various participating restaurants, including James Beard-nominated and Michelin-Starred restaurants.
- Noche de San Juan (June 23) – Every June 23d, Puerto Ricans celebrate the eve of a feast for Saint John the Baptist’s birth. This celebration occurs 2 days before the summer solstice and is spent at the beach. The tradition is that at midnight, people take at least 3 backward plunges to rid life of all negativity. Many hotels host big parties to celebrate the occasion and might be the best bet to avoid being on a crowded public beach.
- Aibonito Flower Festival (June 26 – July 5) – Every year for over 40 years, in the mountain town of Aibonito, the city hosts the Flower Festival with a great variety of exotic flowers and tropical plants of Puerto Rico. The festival includes flower and plant displays, a large section of plants for sale, live local music shows, games and rides for the kids, food vendors, and educational talks led by expert flower growers and horticulturists. Every year the festival is held from the last week of June through to early July.
Puerto Rico in July
- Día de la Independencia de Estados Unidos (July 4) – Independence Day is a US government holiday and an official holiday in Puerto Rico. The holiday commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776.
- Natalicio de Luis Muñoz Rivera (third Monday of July) – An official national holiday, the birthday of Luis Munoz Rivera is celebrated on the third Monday of July. He was a prominent journalist, poet, and a politician who advocated for the independence of Puerto Rico from both Spain and the US. As an official holiday, schools, banks, and all businesses close for the day.
- Festival del Pescao – A weekend long festival dedicated to the fishing industry in the small fishing village of Puerto Real in Cabo Rojo. Puerto Real is known as the first fishing village in Puerto Rico and with this festival, the community celebrates the industry that allowed the town to grow and develop. Festivities include live music, children’s entertainment, and plenty of fresh fish to taste.
- Constitución del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (July 25) – Previously referred to as Occupation Day, this is an official Commonwealth of Puerto Rico holiday commemorating the anniversary of American troops landing at Guanica in 1989. The holiday is celebrated with parades, speeches, fireworks, and parties. As an official holiday, schools, banks, and all businesses close for the day.
- Natalicio de José Celso Barbosa (July 27) – An official holiday of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, honoring Natalício de Dr. José Celso Barbosa who was a prominent figure in the history of the island as an active advocate of statehood and is referred to as the ‘Father of the Statehood for the Puerto Rico movement.’ The day is celebrated with ceremonies at the childhood home of Celso Barbosa in Bayamón, which is now a museum, and also at his tomb in San Juan.
- Festival de Santiago Apóstol (July 25) – A multi-day event in Loíza that occurs around July 25 to honor Saint James. The festival includes a lively parade through town where 4 types of masked “characters” – Los Caballeros, Los Vejigantes, Las Locas, and Los Viejosthe – do ‘battle’, representing the struggle between the forces of good and evil. Other festivities include dance shows, traditional bomba music as well as modern music, and kiosks selling crafts and traditional food.
Puerto Rico in August
- International Billfish Tournament (August 24-30) – Held for over 50 years, big-game fishers come from around the world to participate in the San Juan International Billfish Tournament at the Club Nautico de San Juan. The nautical event attracts experienced deep-sea fishers and boats for a week-long tournament.
Puerto Rico in September
- Día del Trabajo (first Monday in September) – Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated both in the US and Puerto Rico. The holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September. As a public holiday, schools, banks, and all businesses close for the day.
Puerto Rico in October
- Descubrimiento de América (October 12) – This holiday commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. Columbus Day is a US Federal holiday and an official holiday of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The day is celebrated with all schools and public offices being closed.
Puerto Rico in November
- Día del Veterano (November 11) – Veteran’s Day is a holiday meant to honor military veterans of the US and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Veteran’s Day on the island is traditionally celebrated at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery. This is a federal and commonwealth official holiday so all schools and public offices are closed.
- Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico (November 19) – Also known as Puerto Rico Discovery Day, this official holiday of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus on Puerto Rico’s northwest coast in 1493. As an official holiday, schools, banks, and all businesses close for the day. Discovery of Puerto Rico Day is celebrated with fairs, cultural activities, and a big parade. It also is the traditional beginning of the Puerto Rico Christmas season, so Christmas trees ae put up, decorations are put out on private and public buildings, and stores get ready with Christmas inventory and sales.
- Día de Acción de Gracias (November 26) – Marking the beginning of the Holiday Season, Thanksgiving Day is a US Federal holiday and an official holiday for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
- Puerto Rico Cocktail Week (November 15-21) – A 7-day celebration of the local cocktail heritage in Puerto Rico hosted on the best beaches with spirit brands, people, and bars to showcase the best flavors and cocktails. The event aims to make local bartenders known and to market high cocktail establishments on the Island.
- The Festival Nacional Indígena (November 15-17) – An annual folk festival held in the Puerto Rican city of Jayuya, once home to the Taino people. This festival celebrates the Taino culture and Puerto Rico’s indigenous roots. People come from all over Puerto Rico every November to embrace the culture and tradition of their Taíno ancestors. The festival includes a pageant, music, a ceremony recognizing scholars who have researched and written about pre-Colombian cultures, exhibits of traditional items of clothing, as well as a village of Taino thatched-roof huts. Vendors sell traditional arts and crafts and food from the Taino time period.
Puerto Rico in December
- Navitown (December 5- January 6) – Bahia Urbana in Old San Juan transforms into a Christmas Wonderland, with children’s rides, Christmas displays, and more. The park runs from Wednesday to Friday from 6pm to 11pm anad Saturday to Sunday from 3pm to 11pm. The entrance fee is $5 per person, which includes IVU. Kids under 2 years old free.
- Festival del Macabeo (December 13-15) – A cultural festival hosted in Trujillo Alto that celebrates macabeo, a local banana fritter treat. The festival includes arts and crafts, food, music, and troubadour contests.
- Christmas Bazaar (mid-December) – Bazaar Navideño en Ballajá is held along Paseo De La Princesa in Old San Juan. The 2-day fair features around 200 artisans showcasing and selling their hand crafted work – perfect for Christmas presents. The Bazaar is open from 10am to 7pm and is usually held over the second weekend of December.
- San Juan Christmas Boat Parade (mid December) – The annual San Juan Boat Parade takes place around the San Juan Bay. Boats are decorated with Christmas Lights and circle the bay starting at around 6pm.
- National Coquito Day (December 21) – Coquito is the traditional Christmas drink in Puerto Rico and December 21 has been named National Coquito Day. Coquito is often compared to eggnog but is made with coconut cream, milk, and Puerto Rican rum.
- Nochebuena (December 24) – Known as Christmas Eve in the US and elsewhere, this is the night where family and friends gather for a traditional dinner of roast pork and rice with pigeon peas, drink coquito, go out to sing Christmas songs usually accompanied by Puerto Rican instruments (this is known as parrandas), exchange gifts, or take a drive to enjoy the Christmas decorations around town. Many Puerto Ricans will attend a midnight mass known as Misa de Gallo. Most tourism services will be operating on the 24th, and in the evening many hotels and restaurants offer special Christmas dinners.
- Christmas Day (December 25) – This religious holiday is also an official holiday for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Started during Spanish colonial rule, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas decorations are common across Puerto Rico during the year-end holiday season. Festivities and activities on Nochebuena are often repeated on Christmas Day in Puerto Rico. As an official holiday, many businesses will be closed but tourism services, resorts, hotels, and restaurants will remain open and host Christmas festivities.
- Hatillo Masks Festival (December 28) – A carnival-style extravaganza in Hatillo commemorates the Día de los Santos Inocentes which remembers the first Christian martyrs or Holy Innocents. The celebration dates back to 1823, with the arrival in Puerto Rico of settlers from the Canary Islands. The festival features masked performers dressed up in colorful and elaborate costumes for a parade with outlandish floats crossing through the town.
- New Years Eve (December 31) – New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico is celebrated by locals by cleaning their homes followed by a big feast with family and friends. Cleaning the home before the New Year rolls in is important because it is believed that the condition of the home decides how it will stay for the rest of the year. Another tradition on New Years Eve is to eat 12 grapes 12 seconds before the New Year and those who can eat them by midnight will have good luck that year. Another tradition is for someone to recite the poem “El Brindis del Bohemio” or to listen to a recording of the poem – this is popular in Puerto Rico. Traditionally, many places serve asopao — a rice and meat stew — well into the early hours of January 1. Firework displays and parties occur all around the island, the largest of which will be held along the waterfront in San Juan. Hotels and resorts host large New Years Eve parties and reservations should be made in advance to attend events at bars, hotels, restaurants, and event venues around the island.
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