There’s been some confusion online, on various forums, about the date and place of the Desfile Nacional–the grand closing parade in Santo Domingo–and the other events surrounding the big day.

DR Visitor to the rescue!

Below are all the details on the final Dominican carnival parades taking place in Santo Domingo, including events surrounding Independence Day, as recently confirmed by the Ministry of Culture.

1. Independence Day Military Parade – February 27

Time: 2pm

Location: Santo Domingo’s Malecón (Avenida George Washington). It usually starts around 2pm but last year it started 2 hours late (Dominican time!).

Tip: If you want to glimpse the “official” offering of respects to the DR’s Fathers of Independence, go to the Calle Conde and stand in front of the Puerta del Conde/Parque Independencia. The President makes an appearance here to go inside the mausoleum to pay his respects (you can’t see that part). But it’s interesting to see all the fanfare and the crowds who gather here to watch and clap, or to protest. This takes place usually around 1pm, well before the parade over on the Malecón.

Check out last year’s recap post and video here.

dr independence

2. Alibabá Bands Festival (or Festival de Ali-Bandas) – February 27

Time: 6pm

Location: Plaza Juan Baron on the Malecón (Avenida George Washington). Various Alibabá carnival bands compete on stage.The event kicks off at the end of the military parades. Remember–Dominican time.

What’s Alibabá? An Afro-Caribbean influenced carnival music and dance born in the inner city barrios of Santo Domingo in the 1970s.

3. Crowning of King and Queen of Carnival – March 2

A colorful stage show on Plaza España, celebrating this year’s King and Queen of Carnival (personalities who have contributed a great deal to Dominican carnival or to one of the arts). You can watch it comfortably from one of the outdoor terrace restaurants across the plaza.

Time: 7pm

Place: Plaza España

4. Children’s Carnival Parade (or Desfile Infantil) – March 3

Time: 2pm

Place: Plaza España, Colonial Zone. You can also watch the kids along Calle de Las Damas as they make their way down to the plaza. Or you can grab a terrace seat at one of the taverns across Plaza Espana and watch it all with a cocktail or two.

Check out last year’s photos here.

5. National Carnival Parade (or Desfile Nacional de Carnaval) – March 4

The grand finale of all parades featuring the winning comparsas from around the country’s multiple provinces. It’s not to be missed if you’re a first-timer. This year’s edition is dedicated to the province of San Juan de la Managua. Prepare to be awed by the variety of costumes and the cultural diversity of the Dominican Republic.

Time: 2pm

Place: Malecón (waterfront of Santo Domingo). A good place to stand and watch is along the Sheraton or Crowne Plaza, or the Jaragua. Get there early (by 2pm) to claim your spot.


Final tip: Bring a small umbrella; it’s been raining (showers on and off) nearly daily this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened during the parades. But not to worry–that never spoils the fun in the DR!

Not sure if you should go? Check this short video out.  Or these photos.

And if you know someone heading to Santo Domingo next week, send them this post.

UPDATE  – Sunday Feb 25: As is often the case, last minute announcements happen in the DR. Today is the Santo Domingo Carnival Parade (group representing only Santo Domingo), kicking off at 3pm and lasting through the evening with concerts featuring Dominican artists. Go to the Malecon and you can still catch it – I’m sure it will start more around 5pm (sunset).

Lebawit Lily Girma

A former corporate attorney, Lebawit Lily Girma is an award-winning travel writer, photographer, and author of several Caribbean guidebooks for US-publisher Moon Travel Guides, including Moon Belize and Moon Dominican Republic. Originally from Ethiopia, Lily calls herself a “culture-holic”–fluent in four languages, she has lived in eight countries besides the U.S., including Belize, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Her articles and photography focusing on culture, adventure, and sustainable travel in the Caribbean region have been published in AFAR Magazine, CNN, BBC, Delta Sky, The Guardian, and others. She is the recipient of the 2016 Marcia Vickery Wallace Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

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