It's Christmastime on the island, truly the most wonderful time of the year ... but Santa and the Three Kings aren't the only reasons to visit Puerto Rico in December. This year, the holiday season kicks off with all kinds of entertainment, revelry and festivities. Check it out below.
- Of course, Christmas takes the cake, a truly marathon festival on the island that gets going around December 15 and lasts until January 6 (and sometimes beyond).
- The Winter Sofo Culinary Fest brings together over 30 terrific restaurants during the first weekend of December.
- La Feria takes over the Hiram Bithorn stadium in San Juan, converting the stadium into the largest carnival on the island.
- December through early January: La Feria The Park brings the carnival to Puerto Rico with rides (including four roller coasters), shows, games, and holiday lights. New this year will be a zipline.
December 5-8: The Winter Sofo Culinary Fest comes to Old San Juan's Fortaleza Street, with some of San Juan's best eateries participating in a weekend-long open-air dining festival.
- December 6: Head to the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Isla Verde for Saborea Puerto Rico's Winter Party. You can sample dishes from some of the best restaurants on the island, along with various rums, wines and other spirits. Call 787-758-8001 to book.
December 6-8: The Clásico de Paso Fino Porta Caribe trots into the Pachin Vicens Auditorium in Ponce. For anyone who loves horses or equestrian competition, it's a chance to see the lovely, elegant Paso Fino horse, known for its smooth and pretty gait, literally strut its stuff.
December 6-8: The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky's classic ballet and Christmas classic, will be performed for three days at San Juan's lovely Luis A. Ferré Center for the Performing Arts.
December 7: Any fans of The Amazing Race here? Or do you just enjoy a good scavenger hunt? If so, sign up for the Great Urban Race. You and your team will explore the city looking for clues and solving mental and physical challenges. You have to complete the race by 5pm, and the top 25 qualifying teams get an invitation to the National Championship Race; the top three teams also earn cash prizes.
December 7: Puerto Rico's first-ever Sangria Fest comes to Ponce's convention center this year. It's billed as the largest sangria tasting festival in the world, so if you like your wine infused with fruit, don't miss it!
December 7-8: I'm a huge fan of local arts and crafts in Puerto Rico, so I'm all about the Feria Hecho en Puerto Rico, or "Made in Puerto Rico Fair." From hand-carved wooden santos to the iconic vejigante masks, this is a great place to get some Christmas or souvenir shopping done.
December 8: Shopaholic, a retail bazaar with terrific deals, hosts its Christmas event at the Puerto Rico Convention Center. Come shop for fashion deals from local boutiques and designers... with everything under $50!
- December 12: Thousands come to Ponce's lovely cathedral at 5 am 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 morning mass, a "peoples" breakfast is held, while the Mariachi play typical mexican music. Live music, rides, food and parades continue through the weekend at the Plaza Las Delicias.
December 14: Are you a baseball fan? Or better yet, a soccer and baseball fan? If you are, you won't want to miss this special event. $10 gets you entrance to a celebrity soccer game hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina. Among the stars participating in the match are Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Roberto Alomar, to name just a few MLB greats.
- December 15-January 6: Christmas in Puerto Rico isn't just about one day; rather, it's three weeks of family activities, religious ceremonies, parades, parties, kings and, of course, santa. Here's the full agenda.
- December 28: If you like colorful folkloric celebrations, be sure to check out the Hatillo Masks Festival. Celebrated since the Spaniards founded Hatillo in 1823, the festival honors the story of King Herod ordering the death of all infant boys, attempting to kill Baby Jesus. Men donning vibrant masks and costumes represent the soldiers, and march or ride through the town in floats looking for the children.
- December 31: Don't plan on sleeping, because all of Puerto Rico will be partying on New Year's Eve. And stay tuned to my blog for updates on where to go and what to do!