Written by Robert Plum
Get ready to throw some salsa shapes, as the Fiesta de Merengue is coming to the Dominican Republic. You might want to limber up those hips and catch up on some beauty sleep, because the 150-year-old dance tradition will be celebrated with great music and dancing until the early hours.
The Festival del Merengue – the Dominican Republic’s answer to our Notting Hill Carnival – has been going strong for the last two decades and, as the highpoint on the Caribbean calendar, is not a festival to be missed. It’s held in San Domingo which is easily accessible by public transport – more information here.
In a fusion of African dance and Latin flair, the best dancers in the Caribbean flock to the beautiful Dominican Republic to show off their moves and dance the night away. You don’t have to be a seasoned dancer to join in, as everyone is welcome.
So what can you look forward to at this eclectic and lively festival? First and foremost, you’ll get to revel in the music, which will be played in the Santo Domingo’s El Malecón region. Live bands will be accompanied by dancing, and there will be scheduled shows of world-famous musicians and dancers. Make sure you check out the line up to avoid missing any of the top acts. If you don’t want to join in, you can always appreciate the activity from the sidelines.
To keep your energy up, be sure to check out the festival’s extensive food tents for traditional Caribbean food such as jerk chicken with rice and peas, fresh fish, or succulent goat stew, the island’s national dish. For authentic Caribbean souvenirs to take home to the family, the festival offers a plethora of artisan stands where you can purchase hand-crafted trinkets.
With your stomach full of jerk chicken and your hair braided with colorful beads, you might find yourself drawn to the dancing tents, even if that was never on the cards to begin with. One thing is for sure, the festival feeling is infectious and you will certainly end up on the dance floor by the end of the night!
There’s nothing like a cool dip in the sea to nurse aching legs (or an aching head from too much rum) and the beaches here are impossible to describe without resorting to well-trodden clichés. The Dominican Republic is a paradise island, and a relaxing day on the golden sand is the best way to wind down after a night on the dance floor.
The island previously enjoyed a fresh burst of tourism when it was rebranded a luxury holiday destination by celebrity holiday-goers such as Beyonce, Angelina Jolie and the Clintons. Its past reputation as something of a budget Caribbean holiday was entirely stripped by the arrival of boutique hotels and the realization by everybody that the droves of deal-seeking families were onto a really good thing! If you want to experience a little luxury, First Choice have a number of all-inclusive packages to the Dominican Republic.
Written by Robert Plum