Celebrate Fiesta de Santiago Apostol in Loiza


Loíza is a town steeped in tradition. It has roots that combine Spanish culture and traditions with African culture, and meld them into a unique Puerto Rican experience.

One of the most colorful examples of this would be the annual Fiestas Tradicionales en Honor a Santiago Apóstol (traditional festivities to honor Saint James) in Loíza. It is a multi-day event that occurs around July 25, the feast day of Saint James.

Expect lots of colorful parades, dance shows, music (traditional bomba along with newer stuff), and tables/kiosks selling crafts and traditional food.

Some History

Saint James

Saint James, one of the 12 apostles, is the patron saint of Christian Spanish military, having helped them conquer the pagan Moors. His apparition is said to have appeared in both Spain and Loíza, so both have adopted Saint James as their patron saint. Spain and Puerto Rico have similar celebrations for the feast day of Saint James.

Fiestas Tradicionales

Apparently, there are three images (statues) of Saint James that play a role in the traditional celebrations: Santiago de los Hombres (Saint James of the Men), Santiago de las Mujeres (Saint James of the Women), and Santiago de los Niños (Saint James of the Children). Each image is honored on a specific day during the multi-day long celebration.

St Patrick Church

Each of these statues are guarded at specific private homes throughout the year (called mantenedores) and, the night before the feast day, they lead a procession through town from the Church.

On July 24, the statue of Santiago de los Hombres is carried in procession to Saint Patrick Church (Iglesia San Patrício) in town. And then there is a Mass

On July 25, there is a procession of the “Loicenos Ausentes” from the Herrera Bridge to the Public Plaza in town.


On July 26, the statue of Santiago de los Hombres is carried in procession to Saint James Church (in the Medianía Alta neighborhood). This procession includes the traditional running of the flags carried by horsemen. Then it is returned to the house of the mantenedor. The Procession with the statue of Santiago de las Mujeres goes toward St Patrick’s Church.

On July 27, the procession takes the statue of Santiago de las Mujeresfrom town to the mantenedor’s house in the Medianía Alta neighborhood.

On July 28, the statue of Santiago de los Niños is carried from town to the mantenedor’s house in the Medianía Alta neighborhood.

What to Look For

During the processions and parades, you will see four types of masked "characters": Los Caballeros, Los Vejigantes, Las Locas, and Los Viejos. Traditionally, these are all men from Loíza wearing costumes and masks.

Los Caballeros represent the Spanish knights. They are elaborately dressed, with colorful (yellow, red and green) capes covered with sequins and ribbons. Their metal masks are made to look like European knights, and are decorated with mirrors, bells, colored ribbons, and paper flowers.


Los Vejigantes represent evil, the devil, and the Moors. They are elaborately dressed with brilliantly-colored costumes, and masks. The scary-looking masks have horns and are typically made from a coconut shell (per tradition in Loíza). Often the Vejigantes sing out verses that are answered by the people attending the festival.

Los Viejos represent the local men of limited means. Their costumes are made from rags, and their masks are made from cardboard boxes or paper bags. Some of these men are popular musicians who perform in the streets.

Las Locas are men dressed as crazy women. They are very animated.

Saint James Festival


The Town usually also has “Carnaval” during this time. For 2015, the St James festival runs from Friday, July 24, through Tuesday, July 28.

The traditional Saint James festivities start on July 24 with the procession to St Patrick’s and a Mass and then on July 25 with a procession to the main public plaza to enjoy a celebration (usually at 12 noon).

The traditional correr el santos (march with the saints) will be on July 26 to 28. These processions start at various places along Road 187 (see map) at about 1pm and go to Saint Patrick’s Church/Plaza Recreo and then the next day, return from town back to the starting points. I am not sure yet for this year but in years past, there is usually a Carnaval Parade through town on Saturday at 3pm. “The Fiesta en el Batey Ayala” is the last Saturday or Sunday of the Festival week. For 2015, The Hermanos Ayala Bomba Fiesta will be July 26, at 12 noon-7pm at the Hermanos Ayala’s property. Bomba music and dancing, vijigante mask carving and a general street party!

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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Great job finding the information! This will be useful for anyone interested to plan a visit to the festival THANK YOU!

Comment by deb rehn on 23 Jul 2012

I have friends from the states who would like to see the religious portion of the Festival especially, and given my two Anglo names, I also would greatly appreciate any information as the festival approaches. Thank you.

Comment by James Patrick Asip on 19 Jun 2015

Every year it is similar, the statues are brought to a church starting on 7/24, there is a mass. But exact times have not been posted. If you really want to know ahead of time, try contacting the Loiza community (https://www.facebook.com/yosoydelaL?fref=ts or https://www.facebook.com/municipiodeloiza?fref=ts) they can probably have the exact info before I get it.

Comment by Gwenn on 21 Jun 2015

My family (8yr old) are very interested in venturing into Lanza for the beginning of the festival (maybe 1st night procession or Saturday afternoon on square). Knowing the crime rate and warnings about this town + proximity to San Juan/ holiday weekend, should I be concerned as a tourist? I understand using common sense, but never been there before. I also wonder about parking car, traffic into town, family friendly vs debauchery? I am not finding much info/schedule on the net. Thanks!

Comment by Patrick on 09 Jul 2015

We go during the day and have found everyone to be extremely pleasant and pleased to see tourists! Family friendly. I feel safe. Now parking and traffic are a nightmare. We watch the Loiza municipio township Facebook page for info....don't expect too much info until a day or two before. Of course, when we find info, we will post it on our Facebook page.

Comment by Gwenn on 13 Jul 2015

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