San Sebastián Street Festival: The Party of the Year
THE 2023 FIESTAS DE LA CALLE SAN SEBASTIAN will be Jan 19-Jan 22, 2023
It is no secret that people in Puerto Rico know how to party, especially around the Christmas holidays. Announce that there will be a parade, music, dancing, libations, food — then add in local artisan crafts for sale — and it all adds up to one crazy celebration!
That is the usual San Sebastián Street Festival (Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián) in a nutshell. It has been an annual event on Calle San Sebastián in Old San Juan since 1970, and what started as community fund-raiser has become THE festival to go to. Loads of locals and tourists attend this multi-day event.
San Sebastián (Saint Sebastian) was a Christian who was martyred for his faith. There is a street on the north side of Old San Juan named in his honor.
The original "festival" (in the 1950’s) was organized by a priest at the San Jose Church, which is located on San Sebastián Street, to celebrate the feast day of San Sabastián. The annual feast-day festival lasted only a few years.
In 1970, the festival was restarted and it has been held annually ever since. It always occurs around San Sebastián’s feast day, which is January 20th. The festival is typically held on the third weekend of January, and usually runs from Thursday to Sunday. Always double check exact dates before making vacation plans around these dates as things have been known to change from year to year.
San Se Today
The San Se Festival has evolved over time, though it still is full of tradition and Puerto Rican cultural heritage. Mostly, it is a great big party, with people enjoying every aspect of it. It is attended by hundreds of thousands of people, who are very much part of the entertainment scene.
Folks lucky enough to have a birds-eye view line the colorful balconies along Calle San Sebastián, and on the rest of the parade route, watching and shouting to the throngs of people in the streets below. Everyone else hits the streets. It’s basically the Puerto Rican version of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, without the beads and breasts.
For 2023, the festival will be held from Thursday, January 19 through Sunday, January 22.
There are lots of live music shows, both traditional and contemporary. The musicians perform on stages around the Old City , but the main stage is at the Plaza del Quinto Centenario. But also expect music/dance to happen randomly & spontaneously throughout the streets, where people join in the song and dance. There are plenty of dance performances, both folkloric and modern, by professionals and party-goers alike. And all along the parade routes you will find food, drink, and artisans displaying/selling their works.
Itinerary for 2023 Festival
Thursday Jan 19, 2023
5pm ribbon cutting and the traditional parade of people, pleneros and cabazudas
Friday Jan 20, 2023
4pm Mass honoring San Sebastián in Iglesia San José then a procession at 5pm from calle San Sebastián to Quinto Centenario
Saturday Jan 21, 2023
2pm traditional period dance in the Plaza de Armas
Sunday Jan 22, 2023
11 am procession from Plaza Colón along Calle San Francisco to the Cathedral of San Juan
from Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián Facebook
There will be artisans set up all along the Paseo de Princesa from 10am – 10pm from 1/19/23 – 1/22/23. There will also be artisans set up at the Ballaja building thursday 1/19/23 from 12pm – 7pm and Fri- Sun from 10am – 7pm. And artisans will also be set up in the Instituto de Cultura Puertoriqueno (across from the Ballaja) from Friday- Sunday from 10am – 7pm.
Cataño will also be alive with music, activities and artisans on these dates. So, for those who don’t want to go over to Old san Juan (or while you are waiting for the ferry), there will be plenty of fun to get you in the party spirit
from Municipio Autónomo de Cataño Facebook
Public Transportation To/From Old San Juan
The Department of Transportation is expecting record-breaking attendance at the festivities in Old San Juan over the four days. It is highly recommended that you use public transportation versus trying to drive into Old San Juan.
The ferry between Cataño and Old San Juan will operate from 7:30am to 2am during the festival. Cost is $1 per person round-trip. Get more info or buy ferry tickets online, or in the City Experiences app.
The AMA buses and other Buses and Guaguas (multi person vans) will operate from the Sagrado Corazón station and Hiram Birthorn Stadium into Old San Juan. Parking at Hiram Birthorn Stadium is $5.
The Tren Urbano will operate from 5:30am during the festival. Cost is $1.50 per trip. You can park for $3 at the Plaza de la Convalencencia or Plaza de Rio Piedras in order to take the train.
There will be taxi service available at the Convention Center. There is a fee for parking.
Uber will operate as usual. They will drop off in the vicinity of the Hacienda building (or nearby) in Old San Juan.
Parking will be available at Covadonga beginning at 8am for the flat rate of $5 for the day. Puntilla lot will NOT be open. Traffic will be a nightmare. Use public transportation. The private parking lots (like Ballaja, Dona Fela, Trecero Milenio etc) will also be open.
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!