Nicaragua has two distinct seasons: the dry summer (verano) and the wet winter (invierno). Summer (Dec–April) can be extremely hot and often uncomfortably dry, but it's usually regarded as the best time to visit. Fewer travellers come in the rainy season (May–Nov) – which alone could be a reason for choosing to put up with the daily downpour.
On the Pacific coast, rain often falls in the afternoons from May to November, although the mornings are generally dry. The central mountain region has a cooler climate with sporadic rainfall all year, while the Atlantic coast is wet, hot and humid year-round, with September and October the height of the tropical storm season.
Nicaragua’s calendar includes plenty of festivals, from local events to national fiestas and raucous hípicas (horse parades). In addition, each town in Nicaragua has its own patron saint whose saint’s day is observed with processions and celebrations – these may well combine old customs inherited from the Aztecs with mestizo traditions, including the masked viejitos (“old ones” – young and old alike wearing masks of old men and women). Nicaraguans also love to dance, and you will probably see folkloric dances in the streets, usually performed by children. The calendar here lists just a few highlights.
At Easter the whole country packs up and goes to the beach: buses are crammed, hotel rooms are at a premium, and flights to the Corn Islands are fully booked. Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions, in which crowds follow pasos (depictions of Christ and the Virgin), are the biggest in Granada.
The Atlantic coastal town of Bluefields celebrates Palo de Mayo, an adapted May Day fiesta flavoured with Caribbean reggae and soca – a fusion of dance and folklore.
The holiday marking the Revolution is still celebrated ardently by Sandinistas and is usually accompanied by parades and marches. In Managua, the Plaza de la Revolución fills with Sandinista supporters, who gather in memory of the historical events.
Throughout much of the country, New Year’s Eve is mainly celebrated in the home, although San Juan del Sur is known for drawing a crowd of young revellers. Bear in mind you’ll find most things closed on January 1.
Top image: Leon, Nicaragua © Shutterstock