When to go

Visiting Panama in Christmas

Weather in Panama in Christmas

Avg. temperature: 26.2°C / 78.8°FRain: 104.6mm per month
Sun: 3.9 hrs per day (sunshine) / 11.6 hrs per day (daylight)Avg. Humidity: 75%

With average daily temperatures of 26.2°C / 78.8°F in December, Panama makes a great escape from the harsh winter cold you might be used to experiencing over Christmastime. Of course, you should certainly not expect a White Christmas. Although temperatures are high you should know that December falls during the country’s wet season, so you can expect daily rain.

But did you know that the wet season, or winter, is also known as the green season? This speaks to the effect that the rain has on the stunning natural landscape, which turns a vibrant green as the trees and plants thrive in the water. For many, green season is the best time to visit Panama.

If you’re considering a Panama Christmas, keep reading this guide to understand how the locals celebrate and what you can expect during your festive break.

What are the main holidays in Panama?

The people of Panama love a celebration and there are many national holidays throughout the year that commemorate various significant cultural and religious events.

Some of the main holidays in Panama include Martyr’s Day, which falls on 9th January, and is a day of national mourning to commemorate the 1964 anti-American riots over sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone.

On a more positive note, in March there is the annual Carnival which is a flamboyant celebration adored by locals and tourists. As in many Central and South American countries, Easter (typically in April) is a widely celebrated religious holiday, while in November the ‘Fiestas Patrias’ is a series of holidays focussed on Panama’s independence.

Finally, one of the main holidays celebrated in Panama is Christmas, which is the real reason you’re here.

How do they celebrate Christmas in Panama?

As in many of its neighboring countries, the Christmas season in Panama begins on December 8th, a holy day observed throughout Latin America marking the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It is also Mother’s Day, so the festivities that commence are a lovely way to spend the day for Mom’s throughout the country as well.

Expect parades, where locals and their children dress up and carry statues of the Blessed Virgin through towns and cities main streets, and come together for feasts and music and dancing on this sacred day.

During the following week nativity scenes (or ‘nacimientos’) are set up, typical of many Christmas cultures across the globe. Families create their own scenes, many of which have been passed through generations and each year modernised with additions of new figurines or handcrafted items.

Alongside nativity scenes, the Christmas trees are set up and lavishly decorated with bright and beautiful twinkly lights and ornaments.

The main event comes on 24th December, Christmas Eve, with the 25th being a more subdued affair about relaxation and enjoying the company of one’s family.

December 24th is spent preparing traditional foods by the bucket load ready to host huge family gatherings for the evening’s dinner, after which dances and celebrations are taken to the streets for the ultimate feeling of community togetherness.

On the morning of December 25th, church services are held where people gather for worship. The rest of the day is spent devouring the previous days delicious leftovers in the comfort of home, and spending time with relatives and loved ones.

It is not until January 6th – known as “King’s Day” – that children eagerly await their gifts which are brought by the Three Wise Men.

Christmas in Panama City, Panama

If you’re thinking about visiting Panama, you’re likely to spend some time in the capital, Panama City.

One thing you shouldn’t miss if you’re in town over the Christmas period is the Panama City Christmas Parade. Typically held around the 14th of December, the streets of Downtown fill with elaborately decorated floats, locals dressed in wild Christmas costumes and masses of lights and festive decorations.

Locals and tourists come together to attend the parade and enjoy dancing to traditional Christmas music while enjoying the smells and tastes of the delectable food on offer from any of the street vendors lining the pavements.

Read more: What to do in Panama City

Planning your Panamanian Christmas

The month of December technically falls during the low tourist period, as it is winter and also the height of the rainy season. While this typically means cheaper travel and accommodation options, be aware that the prices do tend to pick up over the Christmas period as visitors flock to the country for a festive escape.

We therefore recommend planning in advance and getting your accommodation booked nice and early to avoid high prices, and any potential disappointment.

Best time to visit Panama: JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

4 replies on “Visiting Panama in Christmas”

Panama, with its mix of cultures, vibrant traditions, and natural beauty, offers a range of activities, especially around the holiday season. The 24th (Christmas Eve) and 25th (Christmas Day) of December are celebrated widely in Panama. Here are some recommended activities you might consider:

Attend Midnight Mass: Like in many other Catholic countries, attending the “Misa del Gallo” (Rooster’s Mass) at midnight is a tradition in Panama. Historic churches in Casco Viejo, the old quarter of Panama City, are particularly enchanting during this time.

Stroll around Casco Viejo: This UNESCO World Heritage site is beautifully adorned with lights and decorations during the festive season. You can wander its cobbled streets, enjoy the colonial architecture, and maybe even catch a live performance or two.

Visit Christmas Markets and Fairs: While it might not have the same vibe as European markets, Panama does host various Christmas fairs where you can buy local handicrafts, enjoy traditional food, and bask in the festive atmosphere.

Enjoy Traditional Panamanian Christmas Foods: Feast on dishes like “arroz con pollo” (rice with chicken), “ensalada de feria” (a type of potato salad), and the Christmas ham. Don’t forget to try “ron ponche”, a creamy holiday drink.

Relax on the Beach: Being a tropical country, Panama’s weather during December is quite warm. If you’d rather have a laid-back holiday, you can head to popular beach destinations like Bocas del Toro, San Blas, or the Pacific Coast beaches like Santa Clara or Playa Blanca.

Christmas Parades: In some areas, there might be festive parades or “desfiles” that showcase traditional dances, music, and costumes.

Relax in a Resort: Some resorts in Panama have special Christmas events, dinners, and activities. This might be a good option if you’re looking for a combination of relaxation and festivity.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that the 24th and 25th of December are public holidays in Panama. While many restaurants and resorts will be open (some might have special Christmas menus or events), smaller businesses, and some attractions might be closed. Always check ahead and make any necessary reservations in advance.

Hope this helps!

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