Here's a comprehensive calendar for events in Puerto Rico, broken down by month, with details on the island's biggest parties, festivals, and excuses to cram grapes in your mouth and jump into the ocean.
Unlike the US, Puerto Rico is still in Christmas mode in January, but that's not the only major celebration in town. The San Sebastián Patron Saint Festival comes to Old San Juan, converting one of the main avenues in town into a huge block party. And on the west coast of the island, January kicks off whale-watching season.
The weather is terrific, the holiday season has the island in a festive spirit, and Three Kings Day is a special occasion around the island. It's a good time to be in Puerto Rico.
In a place as romantic as Puerto Rico, love is most definitely in the air in February. But even Valentine's Day takes a back seat to the Ponce Carnival, the island's biggest, most colorful, and most traditional festival. And for those who love classical music, February brings a chance to enjoy top-quality performances around San Juan during the Casals Festival.
March kicks off a series of tournaments that really celebrate the island's diversity: where else will you find international golf, salsa, and sailing competitions all taking place in one destination, in the same month?
March also marks the start of a beautiful season on Culebra Island: when nesting turtles arrive by the thousands on its shores.
Saborea is a weekend-long event that brings top-class chefs from around the island and around the world. Historians, on the other hand, will get a kick out of a different sort of celebration: a reenactment of a historic battle between British and Spanish soldiers.
May celebrates Danza, a formal, elegant dance form that originated in the city of Ponce. In San Juan, the biggest festival of the month brings artisans from all over the island, and all over the world, to showcase their skill and display their crafts. One of Puerto Rico's most popular beaches, Crash Boat, also throws a laid-back summer fair to inaugurate the season.
Summer is in full swing, and on the island, that means a major international jazz festival and numerous quaint and local fairs celebrating patron saints, paso fino horse competitions, mango, and crab, among others. If you're in Puerto Rico in June, it's a great time for a road trip to check out the local flavor around the island.
June is also the official start of hurricane season on the island. The season runs from June to November, but on the whole, it shouldn't keep you away from Puerto Rico.
Salsa and Puerto Rico go hand in hand, and the Puerto Rican Salsa Congress in July is the biggest Salsa event of the year. While the dates and sometimes even the month changes, July usually brings out the Sofo Culinary Fest, one of the most popular annual food festivals in Puerto Rico.
This is also a month full of patron saint festivals and fiestas de pueblo, or town fairs, which means it's still a good time to hit the road and experience the rustic side of Puerto Rico.
As far as events and festivals go, August is a relatively quiet month. But even though summer's winding down, there's still a major sport-fishing tournament going on, and an annual folk art competition in the town of Juana Diaz that celebrates the art of wood-carving Santos, or patron saints.
Like August, September is devoted mostly to small-town fairs and festivals around Puerto Rico. However, shopaholics will want to stay in San Juan for High Fashion Week, when you'll get a chance to get to know some of the island's premier designers.
Halloween isn't as big a deal in Puerto Rico as it is in the US, but October does bring some welcome chills, thanks to the Puerto Rican Horror Film Fest. The island also celebrates troubadors, jazz, and patron saints. And in San Juan, look for the Catando y Picando, a food and wine festival that combines local cuisine and music.
The holiday season in Puerto Rico really gets going in November. Puerto Ricans love Thanksgiving, and they really love their pavochòn. The town of Aguada is known for its Discovery of Puerto Rico Day celebration, and NCAA college basketball comes to the island. Of course, the long Christmas season also gets its start in November, and Old San Juan gets decked up in beautiful Christmas decorations.
Finally, November marks the official end of hurricane season on the island, and the weather at this time of year is close to perfect.
Not surprisingly Christmas and New Year's Eve dominates the holiday calendar. There are parties galore, parades and festivals around the island, and it's generally a wonderful time to be in Puerto Rico. In addition, there's a major horse race, artisan fair, and festival of masks taking place around the island.