Get your dance shoes ready and your hips swaying, because the 2014 Merengue Festival in Santo Domingo is just around the corner — July 25 through August 10.
Every summer, locals and visitors alike gather in the Dominican Republic’s capital city to celebrate the country’s national dance with nonstop, Caribbean-style entertainment. With this festival, you can experience this Dominican and Haitian art form on the soil where it originated. Join revelers as they take to the streets and the city’s shoreline and step to the infectious beats pumped out by the country’s top bands and deejays.
What better place to dance the merengue than its birthplace, and what better time to immerse yourself in the culture of the Dominican Republic than during the vibrant Merengue Festival? Give in to the upbeat Afro-Latin rhythms and join the locals in this casual partner dance with rapid movements, sultry stylings, and wild spins.
The heart of the party can be found at the seaside promenade of El Malecón, but the festivities extend well beyond the waterfront. You’ll feel the pulse of the music all over the city, including the cobblestone streets of the Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo’s historic center.
To cool off between songs, try a Dominican beer such as Presidente or sip on a mamajuana, the country’s popular rum-based drink. Then, after working up an appetite, head to the many food tents for a taste of island cuisine before taking in a dance show or browsing the market stalls for local crafts and souvenirs.
The next day, you’ll want to do it all over again, because merengue fever doesn’t fade overnight. But be warned: the Merengue Festival is a popular event and a major draw for visitors, so plan well in advance and book your trip early. This is one dance party that is not to be missed!
Photo courtesy of Rona Proudfoot