Festivals and Events in Nicaragua
Like its neighbouring countries in Central America, Nicaragua offers an enticing calendar of events that combines its myriad of cultures and religious beliefs. Here's our pick of the best festivals and events worth timing your trip for.
La Gigantona Nocturna
Showcasing Nicaraguan culture, this event features a huge wooden model of La Gigantona, a giantess with whom men were allegedly smitten. She is supposed to be a representation of the white Spanish women that came with the conquerors. She is accompanied by El Enano Cabezon, a dwarfish figure with a big head that is meant to symbolise the intelligent Mestizo (mixed race Spanish and Indigenous). The relationship between the two characters shows the bitter tension between social classes during colonial times.
Considered one of Nicaragua’s most authentic events, Diriamba, also known as the feast of San Sebastian, is a popular occasion that sees Nicaraguans from across the country gather in the town of Diriamba to celebrate. The main feature of the festival is the image of San Sebastian leaving the Basilica of Diriamba and being carried by the people to Dolores where it joins San Marcos and Santiago de Jinotepe. Traditional dances and beautiful costumes are staples of the celebrations.
International Poetry Festival
The largest of its kind in Central America, the International Poetry Festival
takes place every year in Granada and is an absolute must for anyone with a penchant for poems. Poets from dozens of difference countries have participated in the past, coming from Egypt, South Africa, India, Mexico and more. What’s more, each year one Nicaraguan poet is honoured as his or her work becomes the centrepiece of the festival.
Dog lovers rejoice as this unusual festival might just be one of the most adorable events on the planet. In honour of Saint Lazarus, who, according to the bible, had his sores licked by dogs and was healed, this celebration sees locals dress their dogs up in Halloween costumes and head to the church in order to have their pups blessed by the priest. Owners and their pets then usually stay to listen to a sermon before heading home.
Palo de Mayo
Originating in Bluefields, Nicaragua in the 17th century, this festival, which translates as May Pole, has become an integral part of Afro-Caribbean culture along the Caribbean coast of Central America. The event consists of sensual dancing accompanied by intense rhythms made by percussion instruments. Although it originated from British traditions, it has been wholly adapted and modified in line with Afro-Caribbean culture.
Crab Soup Festival
This festival takes place on the idyllic Corn Islands, off the west coast of Nicaragua, and celebrates the liberation of the slaves on the islands. The locals commemorate the occasion with singing, parades and a variety of sporting contests. Of course, one of the main features of the festival is the various crab-based dishes on offer, not least crab soup. This event is all about rejoicing, having fun and looking to a happy, liberated future.