The San Sebastian street festival, also known as “ SanSe” is a Puerto Rican festival celebrated in Old San Juan. The festival usually starts on the third Thursday of January and lasts until the following Sunday. The SanSe, which started out as a religious festival in the 1950s, has become an international staple in Puerto Rican culture and marks the end of the Christmas season on the island.
The internationally recognized festival hosts more 200,000 every year. People from around the world make the festival one of their top destinations and traditions.
The San Sebastian Street Festival is a great way to meet new people from all over the world and it also gives visitors an opportunity to learn a little about Puerto Rico’s cultures.
There are so many things that make this festival great. Here are just a few.
During the San Sebastian Street Festival, visitors will find a plethora of Puerto Rican cuisine. From cod fritters ( bacalaitos ) to mofongo stuffed with shrimp.
The streets of Old San Juan are filled with hundreds of delicious options.
Not only can you find local street foods, but most of the local restaurants will alter their operating schedules to accommodate the hungry crowds.
My street food of choice would be a pincho ( chicken kabab ) with a cold local beer, Medalla.
Although the festival takes place on San Sebastian street, you will find music in every single corner of Old San Juan. From local rock bands to salsa bands, you will find good music everywhere during the festival but the best music without a doubt has to be the improvised group of strangers gathering on a street corner playing Bomba y Plena.
If you don't like crowds, then avoid the festival at all costs, but if you like meeting people and making new friends then you can not miss this festival. Imagine thousands of people gathered all on one street trying to make their way to the next bar. It's a great place to make a new friend.
Throughout the years, I have met a lot of interesting people from around the world. Many of the festival-goers that I have met come to Puerto Rico every year and use the San Sebastian Street Festival as a warm-up for Mardi Gras.
Puerto Rican Artisans are renowned worldwide. These artisans showcase their works of art during the festival and can be found throughout the streets of Old San Juan.
You will find a variety of different art from paintings to sculptures depicting the Puerto Rico culture and heritage in a unique and beautiful way. These pieces of art are a great souvenir to take back and will be a great reminder of your trip to Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rican people are very warm, generous and helpful. They will be more than happy to share some knowledge about the history of the festival or to point you out the best watering holes in the city. Make sure you make a new friend.
Tips when visiting the San Sebastian Street Festival
- Dress as comfortable as possible. IT will be hot, and sticky, so make sure you dress in light clothing and sneakers. Avoid using flip flops. It will be very difficult if you lose a flip flop in the crowds.
- Hydrate. Again, it will be warm. Make sure you alternate your adult beverages with lots of water.
- Bring cash. Most venders will prefer cash due to the high amount of patrons. They prefer to avoid having to process credit cards. Make sure you keep your cash in a safe place.
- Visit the official sites of the festival to learn about the many activities and transportation options.
- If you will be attending during the day, bring a good pair of sunglasses.
- Have fun and make friends.
Have you been to the San Sebastian Street Festival? Are you planning to come down next year? Leave your comment below. We would love to hear from you.