These sleepy towns live for festivals, especially Carnaval and their fiestas patronales, the saint’s day corresponding to the anniversary of the town’s founding. These dates are the best bet to catch the colorful, African-derived dances known as congos.
Some fiestas patronales and other local celebrations in the region include April 27 (Nombre de Dios), June 8 (Santa Isabel), June 19 (Playa Chiquita), June 24 (Palmira), July 31 (Viento Frío), September 8 (Palenque), and September 24 (Río Indio).
It’s not worth making a trip all the way out here just for one of the celebrations, but those who plan to visit anyway should bear those dates in mind.
On October 12, Viento Frío celebrates a big Día de la Raza festival, the Latin American version of Columbus Day. In recent years, of course, attitudes toward that day have become ambivalent throughout the Americas, with some seeing it as a more appropriate time for mourning than celebration. It could be fascinating to attend such an unusual Columbus Day commemoration in an area Columbus actually visited.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition