This week’s Visitor Newspaper covers 2011’s Carnival celebrations in Panama. Take a look below to find out where/when/how you can partake in the events.
Carnival is coming, are you prepared?
By Jacob Ehrler
The Carnival is coming to Penonome, Panama City, La Chorrera and Las Tablas. This pre-Lenten celebration “of the flesh” is coming to every part of Panama! Even the beach hotels where people go to get away from all the madness will feature Carnival-inspired shows and festivities.
Firework shows will be in the sky to accompany this grand tradition, in which Panamanians show off their culture, heritage and uncanny ability to have a good time. If your Carnival plans are not yet sealed, it is high time to call your best friends and figure out a game plan. The big party will be from March 5 to 8.
The big finale
Martes de Carnaval (Tuesday) is the last day of the Carnival on which Panamanians celebrate their Spanish heritage and the queens don the national Pollera dressin presentations. The Carnival rivalry and feuds over which group has put on a better show, as is the case between Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo, is all but dropped this day and the insults regarding the traditional float of an opposing camp are put aside.
The fervor rises by the morning though, where in Las Tablas, the opposing queens meet at the dawn of Wednesday morning for the final showdown, often accompanied by members of the National Police to keep the peace.
Festivities start early. Carnival fever strikes on Wednesday, March 2, when many professionals begin to take leave from their duties in order to get into the party spirit. Most businesses close down early by Friday at mid-day. The queens are crowned at a ceremony on Friday, March 4.
Carnival is designed to enjoy the “earthly pleasures” to their fullest before the coming repentance and Lent during 40 days following last day of the party, on Tuesday, March 8 – Fat Tuesday or ‘Martes de Carnaval’.
Tradition calls for everyone to get all pleasures and sins out of their system in order to prepare for the Easter celebrations of ‘Semana Santa’ – the country’s ‘Holy Week’, another summertime vacation period.
Where to do it?
The answer is anywhere you want. There are a few corners of the Republic without a party. Las Tablas and Panama City are the biggest crowd-drawers but the most recommended plan of action is to go to one’s favorite nook of the country and have a great time.
True Carnival sociologists, however, will concur that the best plan of action is to “Carnival hop” from one celebration to the next across the country. ‘Culecos’ are calmer by day in Pedasi while the evening parades in Las Tablas are unbeatable. There is no better way to soak up the spirit than to take in as much as you can possibly handle.