Carnival1Las Tablas: No one knows for sure, but the population of this otherwise sleepy town seems to quadruple during the four-day festivities. In the last two decades, Las Tablas has become the country’s Carnival capital, attracting increasing numbers of visitors due to its folklore twist.

Colón: The congos (a centuries’-old Panamanian dance genre mixing African and Spanish traditions), reggae performances and calypso bands combine in the city of Colón to offer visitors a Caribbean-style Carnival. The City of Colón is 80 km. northweast of Panama City via the Trans-Isthmian Highway. Don’t miss the congo performances, which take place throughout the Costa Arriba region (Portobelo and Isla Grande).

Province of Herrera: The friendly people of this province welcome you to their quaint towns during this arrival time of year. Foklore is the forte of the province. Its capital, Chitré, is a national mecca for the festivities, but the towns of Ocú and Parita are strong rivals. The city of Chitré, which boasts the largest number of hotels in the Azuero Peninsula, is a three-hour drive from Panama City.

Island of Taboga: The absence of cars on the “Island of Flowers” is a perfect excuse to party on its narrow streets all day. Parades on the island are small, but colorful. A handful of companies operate ferry services to the island, which is 12 nautical miles from the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal.

Chame and Bejuco: The residents of the coastal communities of Chame and Bejuco (western sector of the province of Panama) have Carnival in their blood. Those visiting these towns can enjoy lively culecos: out-door parties in which participants are free to jump and dance as they are doused by water.

Penonomé: Carnivals in the capital city of the province of Coclé are unique as they boast the country’s only aquatic version of the pre-Lenten celebration. The parade of floats at Río Las Mendozas is superb. Penonomé is a two-hour drive (147 km.) from the nation’s capital via the Pan-American Highway.