|Photo from moncheopr.typepad.com|
The action this weekend is in Old San Juan as the annual Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián kick off Thursday and don't let up until Sunday night.
For some that means artesanos (craftmen) filling up the plazas during the day (and often into the night) with their beautiful crafts while live bands play. Restaurants and bars offering up special menus for lunch, dinner, and late night catering to the all-night party crowd (well, until 2 a.m. thanks to a decree by the highly esteemed cough mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, that forces the bars to call it a day around that hour… Yeah, sure) barhopping down narrow, cobblestone streets. Its a weekend where Old San Juan is filled to the brim with drunken revelers, occasionally broken up by percussion bands, theater troupes, and people wearing giant paper mache heads.
For others, las Fiestas, or simply San Sebastián as this once weeklong religious festival turned four-day party is referred to (I call it the craziness), means kilometric traffic jams to come in and out of the old city, parking miles away near the Capitol building (if you’re lucky enough to find parking that close), and being packed like sardines in massive crowds composed of the aforementioned drunken revelers in narrow, beer drenched streets.
Some people are into that sort of thing, some people are going to be safely working the night shift from the newsroom (thumbs up).
But my agoraphobia aside, for many this is the ultimate party of the year and the official end of the Christmas season. It’s definitely an experience, specially if you’re just visiting the island and wondering if it’s like this all the time. No, we’re not that cool.
|Photo from ferrervideo.com|
The music selection this year is probably San Sebastián's most promising feature, and while they have dedicated the festival to reggaeton artist Tito el Bambino (sigh…), they will also be paying tribute to three great Puerto Rican musicians: Andrés “El Jíbaro” Jiménez, Antonio “El Topo” Cabán Vale, and José Antonio “Tony Mapeye” Rivera, who will be part of the closing concert which also includes Roy Brown, trumpet player Jerry Medina, Chabela Rodríguez as well as cuatro groups, trovadores and a folkloric ballet troupe. In short, on Sunday you can look forward not only to the end of the craziness but also a wide selection of traditional Puerto Rican music being played by some of the best, live, at 3 pm in la Plaza del Quinto Cetenario (where the Totem pole is).
In Plaza de Armas, there will also be performances by salsa legends Andy Montañez, la Sonora Ponceña and merengue group Grupomania to name a few. There will also be reggaeton but you can find out about that on your own time.
|Photo from travelblog.org|
Drinks and food-wise, most of the Happy Hours are concentrated right on la calle San Sebastián (although check out my article for Viaje reviewing some awesome places NOT on San Sebastián) and almost all include discounted Medalla (our local beer), Don Q Cristal rum drinks, Coors Light, and Peroni. Others have Bacardi and Dewars drinks also on the knocked off prices list. All these places will be packed.
Actually, to be clear, all of Old San Juan will be packed so if you're going to brave the crowds plan on having: 1) a full tank of gas, 2) the patience of a zen master, 3) the liver of a blue collar Irishman. For more information about the goings on follow our special coverage in the Entertainment section (or Flash!), here’s a preview.
**No, I’m not being asked to shamelessly promote the paper I work for, I’m just showing support for my colleagues who will be interviewing, photographing, and taping the craziness in the name of journalism.