Festivals and events

The school holidays are December to March, and during these times the popular tourists spots are busy so make reservations in advance.

The fiestas in the towns are well worth seeing. Panama City at
Carnival
time, held on the four days before Shrove Tuesday, is the best. During carnival, women who can afford it wear the voluminous
pollera
dress, a shawl folded across the shoulders, velvet slippers, tinkling pearl and polished fish-scale hair ornaments (called
tembleques
from their quivering motion) in spirited shapes and colours. The men wear a
montuno
outfit: round straw hats, embroidered blouses and trousers sometimes to below the knee only, and carry the
chácara
, or small purse.

At the
Holy Week
ceremonies at Villa de Los Santos the farces and acrobatics of the big devils - with their debates and trials in which the main devil accuses and an angel defends the soul - the dance of the 'dirty little devils' and the dancing drama of the Montezumas are all notable. The ceremonies at
Pesé
(near Chitré) are famous all over Panama. At
Portobelo
, near Colón, there is a procession of little boats in the canals of the city.
Bullfights
, where the bull survives, are an important part of rural fairs, as are rodeo events.

The indigenous Ngöbe-Bugle (Guaymí) of Chiriquí province meet around 12 February to transact tribal business, hold feasts and compete for brides by tossing balsa logs at one another; those unhurt in this contest, known as
Las Balserías
, are viewed as heroes.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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