The island of Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory, always kicks off July with a celebration of America's Independence Day, but that's not the end of the month's festivities. Events also include a traditional festival in Loíza that celebrates the island's African heritage and a festival in Salinas that honors the invention of an extremely popular condiment. If you have plans to visit Puerto Rico in July, one of these events could make for an exciting midsummer excursion that will offer you a peek into the local culture.
Puerto Rico is not rescheduled to open for tourism in 2020 until July 15, so many of these events have been canceled or will be postponed. Check the organizer's website for updates.
Independence Day Celebrations
Although Puerto Rico is not a state, the island still takes part in all U.S. public holidays, including Independence Day. On July 4, you can still celebrate the national holiday on the island with traditional Puerto Rican food, live music, and fireworks.
In Old San Juan, most celebrations occur in and around Plaza del Quinto Centenario with music, food, and firework displays. Alternatively, you may prefer to visit the Puerto Rico Convention Center for the Fourth of July annual Cattlemen’s BBQ competition, where you can enjoy local foods, live music, and varieties of BBQ foods.
While the regular season for the National Basketball Association (NBA) ends in April, July is prime time for basketball on the island of Puerto Rico. To catch a game during your trip to the island in July, head to the Puerto Rico Convention Center in Miramar, San Juan, for the Jeep Basketball Junior Olympics.
This annual event brings youth players from across the region to compete in a series of basketball competitions including three-point contests, free throw showdowns, and full-team tournaments. Tickets are available in advance with various prices for adults, children, seniors, and those wishing to purchase multi-day passes for all five days of the event.
Vieques Patron Saint Festival
During the third week of July, the smaller island of Vieques celebrates the Virgen del Carmen—patron saint of the sea, seafarers, and fishermen—with nightly fireworks and a Sunday carnival. More like a block party than a religious event, the Vieques Patron Saint Festival invites islanders and visitors alike to gather in Isabel Segunda's central plaza for a full week of events. Each day, parades of dancers, decked out in shimmering outfits and feathers, will lead the way into the central plaza where food vendors, bandstands, and amusement rides are set up for all to enjoy.
Loíza is a town steeped in tradition with roots that combine Spanish and African cultures and traditions, melding them into a unique Puerto Rican experience. At the African Heritage Carnival, usually held around July 25, you can experience the rich cultural heritage of the island and experience folk and religious ceremonies involving costumes, masks, and bomba dancers.
On the island's southern coast, Salinas honors its very own delectable contribution to Puerto Rican cuisine with the Festival del Mojo Isleño, a weekend festival dedicated to a sauce created by a local Euladia Correa during the 1940s. Mojo isleño is made with olives, peppers, and garlic—among other seasonings—and is typically used in seafood. The festival celebrates the cuisine and culture of Puerto Rico and also showcases the work of over 120 artisans.