If you are in Panama around Christmas, New Year’s, Carnaval, Semana Santa (the week leading up to Easter), or the November independence holidays, be prepared for celebrations and business closures even on days that are not officially listed as holidays.
Also note that when holidays fall on a weekday they are often celebrated on a Monday to create a long weekend. In October–November every city, town, and tiny village has a drum corps and marching band that practices incessantly. Some will find the incessant drumming colorful. Others will find it maddening.
Check with IPAT (www.visitpanama.com) for exact dates of holidays that change yearly, and for a current list of the many other festivals, fairs, religious observances, and regional celebrations that take place somewhere in the country just about every week.
The major national holidays are:
- January 1: Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day)
- January 9: Día de los Mártires (Martyrs’ Day)
- The four days leading up to Ash Wednesday: Los Carnavales (Carnival Week)
- Friday before Easter Sunday: Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
- May 1: Día del Trabajo (Worker’s Day)
- November 3: Separación de Panamá de Colombia (Independence from Colombia)
- November 4: Día Nacional de la Bandera (Flag Day)
- November 10: Primer Grito de Independencia de España (First Call for Independence from Spain)
- November 28: Independencia de Panamá de España (Independence from Spain)
- December 8: Día de Las Madres (Mothers’ Day)
- December 25: Navidad (Christmas)
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition