Saturday, 10 September 2016

Dominican Republic Holidays and Festivals

Dominicans like to find any excuse to
party. Each community has its own
festival honoring its patron saints, while
many nationwide religious events blend
Catholic and African-influenced voodoo
traditions. The February 27 anniversary
of the Dominican Republic's
independence from Haiti coincides with
the last day of its annual Carnival. In
August, there is another Dominican
Republic holiday to celebrate its
independence, this time from Spain, on
Restoration Day.

Virgen de Altagracia

No Dominican religious day is more
important than this January 21 tribute
to the patron saint, the Virgin of
Altagracia. It takes several days to
make the pilgrimage to the basilica in
the eastern community of Higuay where
a 15th century painting of Altagracia
hangs. The trip is just one of many
smaller vigils and services held
throughout the Dominican Republic and
once the praying ends, the parties
begin.

Juan Pablo Duarte Day

This late January celebration in honor of
Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the biggest
fighters for an independent Dominican
Republic, is held on the closest Monday
to Duarte's birthday, January 26.
People lay wreaths and flowers on his
tomb at Santo Domingo's Altar de la
Patria and children march alongside
military members in parades across the
country. The liveliest celebrations take
place in front of the statue at Duarte
Park.

Carnival

The final day of Carnival falls on
February 27, the same day that
Dominican Republic became
independent from over two decades of
Haitian rule. Although each community
celebrates in their own way, no festival
is bigger than the one in La Vega, where
revelers wear devil horns and whack
each other with balloons. Santo
Domingo's Carnival culminates with a
giant Independence Day parade along
the Malecón.

Semana Santa

The normally vibrant Dominican
Republic grinds to a halt during the
annual Christian Holy Week
celebrations, which usually take place in
early April. Church services and parties
are the two most important features of
these Easter festivities. The Dominican
Republic's Haitian community
incorporates ancient voodoo
ceremonies in their traditions.

Espiritu Santo

The sounds of conga drums and other
African instruments ring throughout the
Dominican Republic during this lively
festival held in June, seven weeks after
Semana Santa. The biggest Espiritu
Santo celebration takes place in a
community called Villa Mella situated
not far from Santo Domingo.

Merengue Festival

The Malecón comes alive with the
sound of merengue during this annual
Santo Domingo festival, which starts in
late July and coincides with the August
4 anniversary of the city's founding.
Several of the world's finest dancers
and musicians perform live while
enjoying separate food and craft fairs.

Restoration Day

In 1863, the Dominican Republic
regained its independence from Spain
for the second time. Each August 16,
Dominicans celebrate their 'second
independence' by dressing in elaborate
costumes and marching in street
parades. The two biggest celebrations
are in Santo Domingo's Plaza España
and in Santiago, the city where the fight
began.

Puerto Plata Festival

Fuerte San Felipe is the main location of
this lively October festival on the
Dominican Republic's north coast. The
most talented folk, blues, jazz, and
merengue musicians perform during the
day's costumed parades, food fairs and
dance performances. African spirituals
are also part of the tradition.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

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