Kings, nacatamales and gigantonas—a February of festivals in Nicaragua

Trying to decide when to visit Nicaragua? That’s easy. Anytime is a good time as long as you take in a festival. The majority of Nicaragua’s festivals are practically unknown outside of their region but are some of the best opportunities to experience the local culture. Here are three of the 18+ events going on in the month of February.

A cool way to spend your February would be to follow the King Pulanka festival. It is celebrated every Sunday of the month and takes place in a different village every week, not in the easy-to-get to towns of the Pacific side but in the largely untraveled autonomous region of the north Caribbean. This is Miskitu country, and they strengthen their identity during the King Pulanka festival by making fun of the Spanish and English invaders that tried to conquer them. You can see traditional native dances like the Usus Mairen and eat tasty indigenous/Caribbean food like luk-luk or wabul. If you are feeling adventurous enough to check it out, visit the Instituto de Turismo (INTUR) office in Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas) to find out which villages will be hosting and when.

Casey Callais /

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy biiIirthday dear Jinotepeeee, Happy birthday to you. It’s on the 11th! It’s 132 candles on the birthday nacatamale and a party just as big. In years past there have been football and boxing competitions, folk dancing and of course no birthday party is complete without a beauty pageant. Bring a present and join the celebration at the old train station.

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy biiIirthday dear Matagalpaaaa, Happy birthday to you. It’s on the 14th! It’s 153 candles on the birthday …er… cup of coffee… and a party just as big. So big, in fact, that the celebrations started days ago and have been building up to the carnival today. Coincidentally today is also Valentine’s Day, so come with your media naranja and see the Zafarrancho carnival and the Gigantonas that will be with their big-headed midget suitors. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday.

If you want to of checking out a festival this month or afterward, check out my new book, the NCX Guide to Festivals and Events in Nicaragua, a travel guide that lists over 200+ fiestas throughout the year.

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