FIESTAS DE LA CALLE SAN SEBASTIAN: Tips to make the most of the caribbean’s party of the year

Fiestas de La Calle San Sebastian

carlos.giusti@gfrmedia.com

Forget Mardi Gras. Getting plastered for beads in the French Quarter on a cold Tuesday night is underwhelming next to Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian– a massive four day block party in a tropical wonderland.

The holidays in Puerto Rico are world famous for being a long affair—from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s to Three Kings Day, the partying goes on and on, culminating in the legendary San Sebastián Street Festival in Old San Juan.

This historic block party is not to be missed. Seriously. It is the place to be in the Caribbean. Thousands of people come from all over the island and abroad to take part in the festival, which this year runs from January 14 – 17.

Known as “Las Fiestas” or “SanSe” among locals, the San Sebastián Street Festival showcases Puerto Rican culture to the max with live music, dancing, parades, food, drink, arts and crafts, and the typical festive temper of the locals. SanSe is all about the fun.

If you’re into music, check out the live music lineup and schedule for the festival at the end of this post. The music starts at 5 pm on Thursday and Friday and at 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday on various stages throughout Old San Juan.

Here are some helpful tips to help you navigate and get the most out of the biggest party in the Caribbean. Be safe, and have fun!

WHAT TO WEAR

You’re going to be standing and walking through a sea of people for hours, so above all you need to wear comfortable walking shoes, preferably closed-toe flats. Walking on heels on uneven cobblestone streets is a chore, painful and will ruin your fun, as will getting your bare toes repeatedly stepped on, so choose your shoes wisely. Wear comfortable clothes suitable for the weather. Ladies: a small crossbody purse is comfortable, easy to carry and hard to lose.

TRANSPORTATION

The traffic is as legendary as the San Sebastián Street Festival itself. A minutes-long trip turns into hours trapped in a car, and there’s zero parking by the time you get there–if you get there. Your best bet is to take public transportation. Buses and shuttles run throughout the day up until 2 am. Your hotel should be able to provide you with detailed information about the schedules. The local press, too, is a good source of information on how to get to the festival.

FAMILIES

If you’re traveling with kids, the best time to attend the festival is during the day, before the big crowds arrive and the wild partying begins. You can take a long walk in Old San Juan, drink Piña Coladas, Cuba Libres or local juices, eat Carne al Pincho (delicious meat kebabs) and shop for affordable local crafts at the many stores and street stands you will find along the way.

SECURITY

Where there’s hardcore partying, there can be hardcore trouble, so you will see cops everywhere during the festival. You’ll be glad they’re there when things get a little too crazy with so many people seeking to fulfill their quest for fun in the narrow streets of Old San Juan. Follow the rules. Don’t bring illegal drugs or weapons the event.

SAFETY

Bring your cellphones. If you’re out with a group, agree on a meeting place should you become separated. Stay away from anyone or anything suspicious. Pace yourself when drinking, and keep your eyes open for those who have had too much to drink.

MONEY

Bring cash to the festival. Street stands don’t have point-of-sale systems, so your credit and debit cards will be useless.

RESTROOMS

Bring your own paper or wipes and hand sanitizer. Portable restrooms will be available, but given the crowds and heavy partying they may lack toilet paper and not be as clean as you’d want them to be.

TAKE IT ALL IN…AND WITH YOU

Don’t forget to look around you and take it all in. Take lots of pictures. You’re in Old San Juan. Revel in the beauty and history that you’re now a part of as you walk–and party–on 500-year-old streets.

ONE MORE THING

Keep in mind that Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian brings out the party atmosphere all over San Juan- so be sure to take a break from the party in the street, and check out other events, such as Soundbar Saturdays at Club Brava.


LIVE MUSIC LINEUP & SCHEDULE

Thursday Jan 14

Plaza Quinto Centenario (next to Cuartel de Ballajá)

5:00 pm – Comparsa de Cabezudos
7:30 pm – Pleneros con Caché
9:30pm – Sonora Ponceña

Plaza de Armas (in front of Casa Alcaldía)
5:00 pm – DJ Scarface
7:00 pm – DJ James
9:00 pm – DJ Xtasy

Plaza de la Barandilla (on San Francisco Street)
5:00 pm – Yubaré
6:30 pm – Tambores Calientes
8:00 pm – Orquesta Macabeo
9:30 pm – Tommy Torres

Plaza Colón (in front of Teatro Tapia)
5:00 pm – Antonio Cabán Vale “El Topo”
6:45 pm – Jenny Roca
7:45 pm – Pedro Capó
9:30 pm – Jerry Medina

Friday Jan 15

Plaza del Quinto Centenario
5:30 pm – Limi-T 21
7:30 pm – Tego Calderón
9:30 pm – Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz

Plaza de Armas
5:30 pm – PJ Porrata
8:00 pm – Los Bronson
9:00 pm – King Arthur
10:00 pm – Black Guayaba

Plaza de la Barandilla
5:00 pm – Fusión Jonda
6:30 pm – Tribu de Abrante
8:00 pm – Ivette Cepeda
9:30 pm – Yolandita Monge

Plaza Colón
5:30 pm – Misa E’ Gallo
7:30 pm – Ana Isabel
9:30 pm – La Mulense

Saturday Jan 16

Plaza del Quinto Centenario
2:00 pm – Pleneros de la Cresta
3:30 pm – Viento de Agua
5:30 pm – Plena Libre
7:30 pm – Andy Montañez
9:30 pm – La India

Plaza del Armas
2:00 pm – Guaraison
2:30 pm – Areyto Ballet Folklórico
5:00 pm – DJ Ivan Robles
7:30 pm – DJ Metro
10:00 pm – Gomba Jahbari

Plaza de la Barandilla
2:30 pm – Grupo Guamanique
4:30 pm – Boricubasón
6:30 pm – Planéalo
8:30 – Lissette y Chucho

Plaza Colón
2:00 pm – Susa & Epifanio
4:00 pm – Barreto y su Plena
600 pm – Caribe Gitano
7:30 pm – Melina León
9:30 pm – Oscarito

Sunday Jan 17

Plaza del Quinto Centenario

2:30 pm – Ricky Villanueva y su Conjunto Típico
4:30 pm – Victoria Sanabria
6:30 pm – Pirulo
8:30 pm – Olga Tañón

Plaza de Armas
2:00 pm – Decimanía
3:30 pm – 6 Ballare
5:00 pm – Emil Cedeño
7:30 pm – Lisa M
10:00 pm – La Secta

Plaza de la Barandilla
2:00 pm – Agua, So y Sereno
3:30 pm – Tuna de Cayey
5:30 pm – Kiani Medina
7:00 pm – Albita y SJ Habana
9:00 pm – Lucecita Benítez

Plaza Colón
2:00 pm – Gira Criolla
3:30 pm – Rondalla de Humacao
5:00 pm – Zoraida Santiago
6:30 pm – Plena de Severo
8:00 pm – Kanny García
9:30 pm – Vico C

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