Lonely Planet Writer

Join the women of Panama as they kick off the New Year with Thousand Polleras Parade

Those who happen to be in Las Tablas, Panama this weekend will have the chance to attend one of the region’s most important cultural events — on the afternoon of 14 January, 10,000 women will take to the streets for the annual Thousand Polleras Parade, an event established to highlight the work of local artisans who create the pollera, or the national Panamanian dress.

Woman celebrating the Panama City Carnival, 'La Jumbo Rumba', wearing a traditional pollera.
Woman celebrating the Panama City Carnival, ‘La Jumbo Rumba’, wearing a traditional pollera. Image by Aaron Sosa/Majority World/UIG via Getty Images

Starting at one pm, participants will parade from the Los Santos Governorship, to Paseo Carlos Lopez, Bolivar Street, and 8 de noviembre Street, ending in Jardín Royal Gin. They will be accompanied by musicians playing traditional Panamanian music, and the parade will be followed by fireworks and musical performances by Osvaldo Ayala and Lucho de Sedas, among others. Last year, more than 125,000 people attended the event.

The pollera consists of two pieces, a shirt and a skirt, and is entirely handmade, a process which can take months to complete. Every region in Panama has its own specific pollera, and variations exist depending on its use; the pollera de gala is worn for formal occasions while the pollera montuna is more suited for everyday dress.  The outfit is completed by elaborate beaded headpieces called tembleques.

Las Tablas is considered to be a Panamanian cultural hotspot, as it’s also home to the country’s biggest Carnaval and the Fiestas Patronales de Santa Librada. The Thousand Polleras Parade was organised by the Panama Tourism Authority in conjunction with the mayor of Las Tablas. For more information about the event, visit its website (in Spanish).