December in Puerto Rico: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Teatro Yaguez with Christmas decorations, Plaza Colon, Puerto Rico

Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

Those planning to travel to Puerto Rico in December will find the island comes alive during the winter months with all kinds of entertainment, revelry, and festivities for the whole family (and some events for adults only). Christmas—a true marathon festival on the island that starts around December 15 and lasts until January 6 or beyond—takes the cake. But Puerto Rico offers more than just holiday attractions. Events like the Festival del Petate shows off home decor artisanry based on the petate tree, and La Feria converts the Hiram Bithorn Stadium into the largest carnival on the island.

Explore and enjoy the various seasonal events and the nice weather in December. But be prepared for more crowds and higher prices, as the peak travel season starts in the middle of the month.

Weather

December is a good time to travel to Puerto Rico. The weather is warm and sunny, rain is minimal or modest, and it's not too humid, especially toward the end of the month. It's a nice season for exploring some of the island's many attractions.

  • Average high: 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius)

What to Pack

When packing for your trip to Puerto Rico in December, make sure to bring along light clothing for summer-like, mostly dry weather. If you’ll be spending time on the beaches, pack swimwear, sunscreen, a hat, water shoes, and such. For potentially cool nights and protection from mosquitoes, it is suggested to include long-sleeved pants and shirts, along with mosquito repellent. You may want to bring a rain jacket, an umbrella, and shoes suitable for walking in wet conditions, even if it rains less this month.

Events

Throughout December travelers and locals will find festive events, some related to Christmas. From the colorful historic Hatillo Masks Festival to a boat parade with holiday lights in San Juan to the La Feria theme park, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Puerto Rico.

  • Las Mañanitas at Ponce Cathedral: Every year on the morning of December 12, thousands come to the lovely cathedral on the southern coast in Ponce to sing "Las Mañanitas," the traditional Mexican Christmas song. The religious procession is led by mariachis singing in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the city's patron saint. After a mass, a breakfast is held in front of the City Hall. Rides, local cuisine, and parades continue through the weekend at the Plaza Las Delicias.
  • Festival del Petate: This annual event in the Plaza Pública de Sabana Grande in the island's southwest takes place in 2019 from December 13-15, featuring a market with artisans who use the petate tree to make home decor items. The festival also includes live music, exhibitions, and food kiosks.
  • Hatillo Masks Festival: If you like colorful folkloric celebrations, be sure to check this out on December 28, 2019, which has taken place since the Spaniards founded the north coast's Hatillo in 1823. The event honors the story of King Herod ordering the death of all infant boys in an attempt to kill Baby Jesus. Festivities include people donning vibrant masks and costumes representing the soldiers who march or ride through the town in floats looking for the children.
  • La Feria - The Park: The La Feria amusement park in San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, opens its doors on November 29, 2019, and keeps the festivities going through early January 6, 2020, bringing the carnival to Puerto Rico with rides, shows, live music, games, food, holiday lights, and characters.
  • San Juan Christmas Boat Parade: On the afternoon of December 14, 2019, this parade hosted by Club Náutico de San Juan will brighten up the San Juan Bay as boats decorated with festive lights move about.

Travel Tips

  • December is the peak travel season, so you will likely encounter not only more crowds but pricier hotels and flights. Book ahead for the best deals.
  • On December 24, the majority of businesses should have regular Christmas Eve hours. Christmas Day on December 25 is a public holiday during which most businesses are closed. For New Year's Eve on December 31, businesses typically keep normal hours. Check with individual businesses regarding closures or schedule changes.
  • Public transportation in Puerto Rico varies from flights to trains and buses. If you are wanting to walk around, Old San Juan and Ponce are some of the most pedestrian-friendly parts of the metropolitan area where you can glimpse at historic colonial architecture.
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