Destinations Magazine

Celebrating Carnival in Panama

By Aswesawit @aswesawit

Although we had been in Panama for a while, 2013 was our first opportunity to celebrate carnival in Panama City. The only thing in America that’s even slightly similar is in New Orleans, where it’s called Mardi Gras. Carnival—or carnaval, as they prefer to spell it—is a mega-day holiday throughout Latin America. Many businesses in Panama shut down for the entire five days leading up to Lent, and they party hearty.

Highlights of Panama Carnival 2013

Panama Carnival crowds

The street started filling up with people early in the day.

Musicians performing on stage for Carnival partiers

Musicians performing on stage for carnival crowds

Kuna Yala dancing during Panama Carnival

Indigenous Kuna Yala dancing during Panama Carnival

Face painting at 2013 Panama City carnival

Selling items at Carnival in Panama City 2013

Lots of things are available for sale while partying … this little boy is helping his parents at their table.

Carnival Parade Floats

Colorful carnival float in Panama City
Carnival float in Panama City 2013
Detail from a carnival float in Panama City, 2013

People dress up for carnival

People dress up for carnival, either in colorful and creative costumes or as the traditional diablos. These devil costumes vary by region, and while they carried (and used) real whips in Bocas, at Panama City’s carnival their whips are mostly just props.

Posing with a carnival devil in Panama

And then there’s the food …

Besides the soda, water and cerveza, there’s a huge variety of really delicious food. You can eat to your heart’s delight.

Locals sell foods all along the street during Carnival
Snow cones for sale from a street vendor during Panama carnival

More about Carnival in Panama


Have you ever celebrated Carnival, or would you like to? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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