The San Miguel Carnival in El Salvador. What you need to know!

San Miguel Carnival El Salvador
The San Miguel Festivities.

The San Miguel Carnival in El Salvador takes place every year on the night of the last Saturday in November; it begins at 10 pm and runs until the morning of the following day. During the carnival, the main streets of San Miguel are packed with visitors enjoying the different types of musical events and other attractions.

The carnival of San Miguel is part of the month-long celebrations in honor of the Virgin of Peace (La Virgen de la Paz), patron saint of the municipality of San Miguel.

Even though the San Miguel Carnival takes place on the last Saturday in November, at night. The entire municipality has smaller events throughout the month.

The smaller events held throughout November are called Carnavalitos or small Carnivals. These Carnavalitos are held in communities all over the municipality; it includes concerts, parades, mechanical games, food festivals, and more.

San Miguel Carnival
San Miguel Festivities Parade.

The 2021 San Miguel Carnival

The San Miguel Carnival returns in 2021, and it will be open to the public. This is good news for the municipality and for those who year after year visit the carnival.

The 2020 carnival was canceled due to the pandemic; it was the first time this festivity was canceled since it started in 1939.

Edward Galeano, manager of the San Miguel patron festivities committee, announced that the San Miguel carnival, the parade of floats, and the election and coronation of the carnival queen, will be open to the public.

However, the committee affirmed that anyone who wants to enter the events must show a complete vaccination card and will be required to wear a mask during the events.

Galeano also announced that the parade of floats will also be open to the public in the streets of San Miguel.

El Salvador Festivities
Colorful Float Parade.

What is the San Miguel Carnival?

The carnival of San Miguel is a celebratory event that happens at night on the last Saturday in November. It is the culmination of the month-long celebrations of the city in honor of the virgin of the peace, patron saint of San Miguel. The carnival celebrations take place in the principal streets of the municipality.

From 10 pm until the following morning, the main streets of San Miguel are filled with live music events and people dancing all over. The San Miguel Carnival is one of the most well-known celebrations in El Salvador.

Music event in San Miguel
Photo by M. Pereira

The municipality sets up different street venues so local and international bands can play for the carnival crowds.

It is common for over 30 musical groups and orchestras of different genres to play during the night at this carnival.

How to Best Enjoy the San Miguel Carnival

The best way to enjoy this carnival is to sleep during the day and be at one of the principal San Miguel streets by 5 pm. The following might give you an idea of how to spend this Saturday night in San Miguel.

1. Experience the Float Parade

The first thing you don’t want to miss is the float parade that starts at around 6 pm. This is the largest parade of the festivities.

Many colorful floats participate in the parade. These floats, along with hundreds of dancers and musical bands, shine the streets of the city.

2. Taste the Local Gastronomy

After experiencing and viewing the long parade, it is time to try the local gastronomy and the local drinks.

To accomplish this, you can make your way to the fairgrounds or any area with small food tents. They will not be hard to find!

During this night, the city is filled with small vendors preparing traditional Salvadoran foods and drinks.

3. Visit the Music Events and Have Fun

After experiencing the parade and having some food and drinks, it is time to get into the spirit of the carnival.

From 10 pm until the following morning, music groups will be playing in different parts of the city. Head on to one of the venues for some great live music and dancing.

It will be up to you to decide if you want to stay at one location or visit different areas and see various groups.

Keep in mind that during the carnival, the streets are going to be packed. So getting from one street venue to other might be challenging.

4. Have some Atol Chuco in the Morning

To truly experience the San Miguel carnival like a local, you must stay up all night and at dawn go drink Atol Chuco. Atol Chuco is a traditional drink from the eastern part of the country; it is a sweet drink with pink color.

5. Go to the Beach and Relax or Continue the Party

The best way to end the experience of the San Miguel Carnival is to go to the beach and relax or continue the party.

Most people in the area will go to Playa El Cuco or Las Flores beach, two of the best beaches in El Salvador.

The Carnival’s History

According to historical records, initially, the festivities were held every May 8th; it was the date San Miguel was founded.

In 1939, the Municipality Council decided to move the celebration to November. It was done in honor of the Virgen de la Paz, patron saint of the municipality.

During that time, the festivals were held in the neighborhoods around the city. As the years passed, the festivities were held in the town’s Casinos (Entertainment Venues), to which only a small group of people had access.

The majority of the population couldn’t get into the venues. They had to settle for listening to the music of the orchestras on the outskirts of the Casinos.

In 1959, Governor Miguel Felix Charlaix noticed the isolation of the majority of people during the celebrations. He decided that the orchestras would have their presentations in the streets of the city.

Since 1959, the San Miguel Carnival has been held on the San Miguel streets.

Over the years, the popularity of the carnival has spread to all of El Salvador and neighboring countries, to the point of recently proclaiming itself as the most important festival in Central America.

Major Religious Events During November

The November festivities in San Miguel are not about the carnival. The celebrations are all about religion in honor of the Virgin of the pace, patron saint of San Miguel. The following are the most important religious events during this month.

El Festival Mariano

The Mariano Festival takes place on November 20th; it begins around 8 pm and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace.

On the eve of the day dedicated to the patron saint of San Miguel, Catholic faithful crowd the main streets of the city and Guzman Park, in front of the majestic Cathedral of San Miguel.

The participants sing to God and to the Virgin Mary under the invocation of the Queen of Peace. The singing goes on until the early hours of the 21st.

Mass in Honor of the Virgin of Peace

On November 21st, following the Mariano Festival, a mass in honor of the virgin of peace is held at 9 am. This mass is attended by some of the country’s highest official and local leaders.

Procession of the Virgin of Peace

The procession of the virgin of the peace begins at around 4 pm on November 21st. Like every year, hundreds of people participated in the ancient tradition of accompanying the image of the Virgin Queen of Peace in a procession.

Day of Saint Michael the Archangel

November 29th is the day of Saint Michael the Archangel. On this day, the San Miguel diocese celebrates a Holy Mass in the morning. Usually, in the afternoon, a procession takes place.

The San Miguel Carnival in El Salvador

Year after year, thousands of people, local and foreign, come to San Miguel to have fun and experience one of the most fascinating events of the year, the traditional San Miguel Carnival.


Related Posts