What to expect
February is an important month in the Dominican Republic. Not only is it carnival season but the month culminates with the national celebration of Independence on February 27th.
The parades and parties happen in every major city every Sunday during the month of February. The city of La Vega, hosts the most iconic and oldest carnival in the Caribbean. Other cities to explore are Santiago, Bonao, Barahona, and Montecristi. Santo Domingo, the capital of the DR, hosts a military parade and carnival parade that brings together the largest comparsas (troupes) of the island.
Each city has different traditions and costumes with a unique identity but a few staples remain. The general costumes are called Diablos Cojuelos or Limping Devils—the story goes that this playful devil was banished from hell by the devil himself because of his hardcore pranks.
Dominican iterations of the Diablo Cojuleos involve elaborate, detailed costumes and their favorite weapon a vejiga. Vejiga or balloons are traditionally made with a dried cow’s bladder and are used to hit passerby’s and spectators.
When you attend any carnival celebration you must be aware that you run the risk of being hit by the Vejigas or whips. It’s all in the thrill and fun of the festivities!
After the Diablos Cojuelos, the Lechones of Santiago are iconic. Los Lechones or piglets are masked devils with the face of a pig and usually carry whips instead of balloons.
The various costumes throughout the Dominican Republic take months to prepare and are the highlight of the carnaval Dominicano. Tip: You are less likely to get hit if you point your camera at them!