Monday, September 1, 2014

2013 San Sebastian Street Festival, Old San Juan

2013 San Sebastian Street Festival, Old San JuanIt’s January. It’s Puerto Rico; so it must be time for the San Sebastián Street Festival (Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián ) in Old San Juan….

The 2013 San Sebastián Street Festival runs from Thursday January 17 until Sunday January 20. This is the place to be if you want to experience a true Puerto Rican Carnival Atmosphere; this is Puerto Rico’s Mardis Gras.

Parades, music, dancing, artisans from around the island, food and drink and the potential for around 500,000 visitors to the festival; all add up to 4 days of colorful (and loud) celebrations in the streets of Old San Juan.

2013 San Sebastian Street Festival, Old San JuanDuring the 4 days of the San Sebastian Street Festival you will find:

  • Live music at the Plaza del Quinto Centenario (Main Stage Area) as well as in the streets around Calle San Sebastián.
  • Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá, the National Gallery, Casa Blanca as well as lining the route of the festival parade. Last year I was really blown away by the number of Artisans and the quality of their works, who set up stalls during the festival.
  • Food and drink stalls at Plaza del Quinto Centenario.
  • Lively entertainment and artisans in the streets around the festival

The 2013 San Sebastian Street Festival is dedicated to Robi Draco Rosa

Festival Schedule – Musical Listings below will take place at the Plaza Quinto Centenario Main Stage

Thursday Jan 17
10am – 10pm: Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá and the National Gallery
5pm: Ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by the main parade with cabezudos (big heads) starting at the Abraham Lincoln School, along Calle San Sebastian to Plaza Quinto Centenario
6:30pm Awards & Dedication Ceremony, honoring Robi Draco Rosa
8pm: Así canta Puerto Rico — Live music with Luisito Vigoreaux, Jr
10pm: Sonora Ponceña

2013 San Sebastian Street Festival, Old San JuanFriday Jan 18
10am – 10pm: Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá and the National Gallery
5pm: Parade with cabezudos, starting at the Abraham Lincoln School and continuing down Calle San Sebastian to Quinto Centenario Plaza.
5pm: DJ Carlos Fernández
7:30pm: Barreto y su plena
9pm: Orquesta La Mulenze
10:30pm: Luisito Carrión and his orchestra
12am: Andy Montañz

Saturday Jan 19
10am – 10pm: Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá and the National Gallery
9am & 1pm & 3pm: Parade with cabezudos, starting at the Abraham Lincoln School and continuing down Calle San Sebastian to Quinto Centenario Plaza.
10am: Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá and the National Gallery until 10pm
10am: Artisans at Casa Blanca until 5pm
1pm: Humacao Children’s Rondalla)
2:30pm: UPR Carolina Campus Choir
3:30m: Grupo Gira Criolla
4:30pm: Guasábara Combo
6pm: Orquesta La Exclusiva
7pm: Mantarraya
8pm: Balie de Epoca con la Orquesta Juan Morel Campos
9pm: Pleneros Con Cache
10:30pm Tito Rojas

2013 San Sebastian Street Festival, Old San JuanSunday Jan 20
10am – 10pm: Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá and the National Gallery
9am & 1pm & 3pm: Parade with cabezudos, starting at the Abraham Lincoln School and continuing down Calle San Sebastian to Quinto Centenario Plaza.
10am: Artisans at the Cuartel de Ballajá and the National Gallery until 10pm
10am: Artisans at Casa Blanca until 5pm
11am: Memorial Mass in the San Juan Cathedral, with the String Quartet of San Juan
1pm: Eco Raíces
2:30pm: Homenaje a Myrta Silva
4pm: Decimanía con Edwin Colón Zayas
6pm: Plena Libre
7:30pm: Mickey Cora y su orquesta Cábala
9:30pm: Papo Cocote y su Nuevo Montuno

Note: This is Puerto Rico, so the above times are not set in Stone.

Also, last year the parades at 9am and 1pm on the Saturday did not take place, so if you really want to see the parade I would highly suggest you aim to go for the Thursday or Friday parades at 5pm.

Schedule via Primera Hora

What to expect

  • Day time is usually quieter and calmer with things livening up as night falls
  • They are expecting around 500,000 people (locals and tourists) to attend this year’s festival, so expect huge crowds, especially in the evenings
  • The main parade route will be lined with people trying to get the best views during the parades, so try to get your viewing spot secured early.
  • There is a police curfew enforced: Thursday & Friday @ Midnight, Friday & Saturday @ 1am
  • Traffic into and out of Old San Juan can be a nightmare. If you plan on driving, aim to get there as early as possible
  • Public Transport will be readily available with extended hours: 1am Thursday & Friday and 2am Friday & Saturday
  • Buses will run from Sagrado Corazon and la Isleta de San Juan to the Covadonga bus terminal in Old San Juan
  • Ferries will run from Hato Rey and Catano across to Old San Juan
  • Use cash, makes things a lot easier and faster
  • It will be hot, so drink plenty of fluids (and not just the alcoholic kind)…
  • Finally, remember, this is Puerto Rico so timings of the various events are tentative, so be patient…

For more tips check out the Guide to Surviving the San Sebastian Street Festival

2013 San Sebastian Street Festival, Old San JuanLast year I attended the festival on the Saturday. I arrived early in Old San Juan and had no problems parking. I spent the day wandering around the streets checking out the artisans, food stalls and music and managed to catch part of the parade in the afternoon. For some reason, the scheduled 9am & 1pm parades never happened. I passed on the evening festivities but have heard it gets crazy busy.

If you plan on attending this year’s San Sebastian Street Festival, I hope you have a great time.

What: San Sebastián Street Festival (Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián ) in Old San Juan
Where: San Sebastián Street and surrounding areas
When: Thursday Jan 17 – Sunday Jan 20, 2013

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