Dominican Carnival

The devils are dancing again: February is the month of the famous Dominican carnival. The streets are filled with the vibrant colors of ornately worked costumes, masks, and lots of Merengue and Bachata music. Parades take place in various cities throughout the country on every Sunday in February, culminating in the parades to celebrate Dominican Independence Day on February 27.

The most famous carnival of the country is “Carnaval Vegano”, the carnival celebrated in the city of La Vega. The final parades are happening in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata on the first Sunday of March.

When the Devils Dance: Who is Who in Dominican Carnival

Each province has its very unique figures and rites. The main characters of the Dominican carnival are the devils, though the following two characters are part of every Dominican carnival tradition:

El Diablo Cojuelo is the leading character of the Dominican carnival. This “limping devil” wears a colorful cloaked suit adorned with small mirrors, rattles, ribbons, and cowbells, as a parody of Spanish medieval knights. A mask with large horns covers the devil’s face. He carries a round whip or vejiga, made from a cow’s dried and cured inflated bladder and goes along the parade route, surprising distracted onlookers with a lash on their butt.

Roba La Gallinaor “the hen robber,” is a man dressed up in an extravagant, layered dress, with large-sized breasts and exaggerated posterior, and carrying an oversized purse. She parades in the streets with an open parasol, stopping at the “colmados” or bodegas begging for his chicks, the town’s young people, who follow along behind him in the parade.

The typical Characters of the different Provinces

SANTIAGO de los Caballeros

Los Lechones are the city of Santiago’s main carnival character. They are also a form of limping devil. They distinguish themselves with their masks, representing the face of a pig, with a long snout and tall horns. Their elaborate costumes feature a colorful, beaded romper encrusted with bells and bows. Their role is to maintain order in the streets during festivities, which they attempt by swinging their fouet in the air.


Los Taimáscaros are Puerto Plata’s main carnival characters. They are a version of the diablo cojuelo, mixing three cultural influences in their outfits: a mask to represent the Taino gods, blouses and coats to represent the Spanish heritage, and handkerchiefs that symbolize African deities.


Guloyas are from San Pedro de Macorís. Their striking beaded costumes and tall feathery hats are impossible to miss. They represent Afro-descendants from neighboring English-speaking Caribbean islands who migrated to the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century to work in the sugar industry. Their unique African-influenced music and dance was proclaimed a UNESCO Masterpiece of Intangible and Oral Heritage of Humanity in 2005.


Los Pintaos from Barahona parade in intricately painted bodies in various colors, from head to toe, with just a piece of cloth covering their nakedness. They represent the Maroons, escaped slaves who took refuge in the southwestern mountains of Bahoruco in the 16th century.

Los Tiznaosalso known as Los Africanos or the Africansare characters whose faces and bodies are painted black with coal and burned car oil. They portray enslaved Africans, and dance along the streets.

Los Alí Babá is a group with Oriental themes, known for performing choreographed dancing and drumming.


Pictures: GoDominicanRepublic. MegaAdventuresDR, tripzilla, IIC Spanish School

The Art of Mask Making

Meet the artist and designer Humberto López and see how the famous Dominican masks (caretas) are made:

Artist Humberto Lopez designs and creates the devils and masks of the famous Dominican carnival.

Video Copyright: Great Big Historia in collaboration with Oficina de Turismo de la República Dominicana.

Origins and History of the Dominican carnival

Read more about the origins and the history of the Dominican carnival:

in English:

in Spanish:

If you like to know more about Dominican culture and traditions, Dominican food, music and language, contact us: We’d be happy to tell your more about our beautiful country.


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