El Carnaval de Ponce or Carnaval Ponceño (Ponce Carnival) is Puerto Rico’s big traditional carnival. Ponce is Puerto Rico’s big southern city, so it has less gringo influence than the capital.
Ponce Carnival 2022
In 2022, Carnival Month is February. Carnival Week is Wednesday, February 23 to Tuesday, March 1. We hope to see Ponce Carnival on the weekend from Friday, February 25 to Carnival Tuesday on March 1.
Ponce Carnival 2021
All 2021 Carnivals are in cancelled because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some may go virtual. Normally Ponce Carnival runs for the entire week before Ash Wednesday. Based on last year’s plan, Ponce Carnival would be Sunday, February 14, 2021. However, Puerto Rico is under COVID quarantine, so we cannot gather.
Be good (mask, distance, wash) and hopefully we can gather in 2022.
Ponce Carnival 2020 Schedule
Ponce Carnival is in Ponce, Puerto Rico for just one day this year on Sunday, February 23, 2020.
The party beings with the Dance of the Masks (Baile de las Máscaras) in front of Teatro La Perla at 11am.
At 12 noon the Centennial Municipal Band (Centenaria Banda Municipal) will play a concert at Parque del Quinto Centenario.
The Carnival Parade starts from Centro del Sur Mall from 1pm to 6pm.
The Burial of the Sardine and the Burning of Júa are at 7pm. Pirulo y la Tribu play salsa for dancing into the night.
The festival’s Grand Marshal is Gilberto Limardo, community leader of Playa de Ponce. The Juvenile Carnival Queen is Kayra Figueroa de Jesus. The Child Carnival Queen is Allyson Soley Sánchez Pérez.
Vejigantes are the iconic Puerto Rican carnival character. They are the Puerto Rican version of the devil-hero clowns of Caribbean Carnival.
There are two kinds of vejigantes. In the southern coastal city of Ponce, the outlandish masks are made from paper maché and show a more Spanish influence.
In the northern coastal town of Loiza, the masks are made from coconut husks, and show a more African influence.
The name “Vejigante” is a reference to vejiga bladders, which are sort of balloons, used to threaten celebrants and especially children. In 2019, we haven’t seen any vejiga bladders used in Puerto Rico. We have seen them used in New York City by the Dominican Carnival character Diablo Cojuelo.
Worried about Earthquakes? Don’t Be!
The event usually runs all weekend, but is shortened this year because of the earthquakes in the ocean nearby that peaked over a month ago on January 7, 2020. The news makes it seem like all of Puerto Rico was damaged, but only a few counties near Ponce suffered serious damage.
We can’t speak for Mother Nature, but earthquakes usually come as one big one with many small aftershocks that don’t do any damage, but still scare people. The big one already happened. Don’t be afraid. The best thing we can do is go to Ponce and spend money there enjoying Carnival.
[NOTE: We have spent time in Ponce since the earthquakes. It’s quiet now, very quiet. Many old buildings were damaged, but otherwise Ponce is fine. It’s beautiful. Artists should consider opening studios there.]