If your only image of Carnival is of feather clad beautiful women from Brazil, be prepare to be pleasantly surprised. The Dominican Republic also has it’s own version of Carnival, which is one of the most vibrant and colorful celebrations in the world.
Throughout the month of February different regions of the Dominican Republic celebrate Carnival all in their own way, and Punta Cana is no exception. The weekend of March 7th through the 10th the Puntacana Group will hold their 6th annual Carnival celebration.
The party includes an exciting and impressive parade through town that features Carnival troupes from Curacao, Aruba, St. Martin and numerous from the Dominican Republic. There will also be a concert that will include bachata, merengue, and salsa music. This will all kick off at March 7th at 4 pm in the Punta Cana Village.
So what is this Carnival all about?
Carnival has been celebrated in the Dominican Republic since the mid 1500’s. In fact, it is believed it was the first Carnival celebrations celebrated in the Americas. Like many other Carnival celebrations around the world, the Dominican celebration forms part of a pre-Lenten festival where the world of order is turned upside down and one can make light of life’s problems.
Carnival is celebrated throughout the whole month of February, but the celebrations climax on the 27th of February, the Dominican Republic’s Independence Day. The combination of Independence Day with Carnival makes this festival one of the biggest Carnivals around.
So, as you can imagine it is taken pretty seriously, or as seriously as you can take a month long party.
Much like Dominican culture, Carnival is an eclectic mix of European, African, and Taino Indian culture. Every Sunday in February you can find a parade, party, or contest in some community in the Dominican Republic. The biggest celebration is in the town of La Vega, where it’s believed that Carnival all began.
If you know anything about Carnival is that it’s all about the costumes, and while the Dominican costumes may not be a small or sexy as the Brazilians, they certainly don’t disappoint. People dress as different characters in elaborate costumes, each with it’s own symbolism and meaning.
The main traditional character is the Diablo Cojelo, these guys have scary looking Devil masks and carry around dried cow bladders full of air, and they are used to smack people on the butts. They say it brings luck but I personally think the only thing it gives you is bruises.
Nevertheless, everyone should see or experience a Carnival celebration in their life, and with the Dominican celebration you get two for one, Independence day and Carnival all rolled into one.
Not going to be in Punta Cana in March, but would love to to participate in the celebration? Not to worry, you can always go on the Caribbean Stingray Bay Festival, which is not the same as Carnival, but gives you a taste of the beautiful costumes and the festive spirit of Carnival.
Beach, babes, beautiful island and an almost 500 year old party, what are you waiting for?
I am a writer, development worker, and adventurer who loves to travel and all things new and exciting. I just embarked on the most exciting and challenging journey of them all, motherhood. Free time, sleep, and hobbies are scarce commodities in my world, but I always find a little time for to catch up on trashy celebrity gossip, and read updates from my favorite bloggers. I’m originally from New Mexico, and am passionate about learning how to be a better mom, a more engaging writer, ice cream and green chile.