The best times of the year to visit the Dominican Republic is during one of its holidays. Doing so will give you a good taste of the nation’s culture and people.
The Dominican Republic holidays are roughly divided into three the official public holidays, the festival holidays, and the Fiestas Patronales. National Public Holidays consist of Secular Holidays that are recognized by the Dominican Republic as its Official Holidays. Usually, these are non-working holidays, thus allowing the Dominicans to celebrate as a nation.
The Secular Holidays are the:
– New Year’s Day on January 1 (Celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve)
– Three Kings or the Epiphany on January 6
– Dia de la Altagracia or Our Lady of Altagracia on January 21 (Celebrations are held in honor of the Protector and Queen of the Hearts of the Dominican People.)
– Duarte’s Day on January 26 (Otherwise known as Duarte’s Birthday, this celebration is held in commemoration of one of Dominican Republic’s founding fathers, Juan Pablo Duarte.)
– Independence Day on February 27 (This marks the liberation of Dominican Republic from foreign rule.)
– Labor Day on May 1 (The nation joins the entire world in celebrating this holiday.)
– Corpus Christi, which is celebrated in June, on a Thursday (This is celebrated exactly 60 days after Easter to commemorate the institution of one of the Catholic Church’s sacraments the Holy Eucharist.)
– Restoration Day or Da de Restauracin on August 16 (This holiday celebrates the freedom regained by the Dominicans after a brief period of Spanish occupation.)
– Our Lady of las Mercedes on September 4 (This is the holiday set part in honor of the nation’s Patron Saint.)
– Christmas Day on December 25 (Although officially starting with a Christmas dinner on December 24th, the Dominicans celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ as a nation on the 25th.)
These Secular Holidays are mostly celebrated by the entire nation. The next set of holidays in the Dominican Republic compose mainly of regional festivals. Some of them are:
– The Cocolo Festival on January 1. This honors the African-European traditions of the Cocolo tribe who migrated to Hispaniola during the 16th century.
– The month-long festival, called the Carnaval, that is celebrated by over 100,000 nationwide.
– The week-long observance of the ‘Semana Santa’ in March or April. Church services are held in most towns. This coincides with the Voodo festivals held by the Haitian in the country.
– The Puerto Plata Cultural Festival that is celebrated in June. It is a 3-day long festival that is dedicated to Latin music.
– The Merengue Festival of Santo Domingo from the third week of July and generally to the 1st week of August.
– The Festival of the Bulls in Higey on the 14th of August.
– The Jazz Festival that is widely celebrated in Cabarete and Sosua. It is usually held on the first week of October.
– The All Saints Day, which just like in the rest of the world, is held on the 1st day of November.
Finally are the Fiestas Patronales, the celebrations held in honor of the Patron Saints of the various towns , municipalities and provinces in the Dominican Republic. There are hundreds of these celebrated in one year. A handful of the most popular patronage holidays are the: San Felipe of the Puerto Plata Malecon, San Fernando of Monte Cristi, San Juan Bautista of Bani, San Antonio of Bonao and Sosua, and Saint Andrew of Boca Chica.