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Merengue Festival Santo Domingo, Dominican R. - 26 August 2017


Getting There

Getting There

nearest bus station:
Caribe Tours Terminal

nearest airport:
Santo Domingo Las Américas (SDQ)

nearest train station:
Santo Domingo Metro Stations

Don Diego Cruise Ship Terminal

Getting to Festival del Merengue

  • The mian airport is Santo Domingo Las Américas (SDQ). It’s about 30 km from El Malecón.
  • The other airport is Punta Cana (PUJ). It’s almost 200 km from Santo Domingo.
  • Caribe Tours Terminal is between Leopoldo Navarro & Avenida 27 de Febrero.
  • It’s about 4.5 km from El Malecón.
  • Santo Domingo Cruise Ship Terminal is on Avenida Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deñó.
  • It’s about 2 km from Plaza Juan Barón.

Taxis, Carros Publicos & Guaguas

  • There are taxis, carros publicos (public cars) & guaguas.
  • Guagua is the local word for bus.
  • Walking is a popular means of getting around Santo Domingo.
  • For an adventure, try a motorcycle taxis called motoconchos.
  • Motoconchos are not cheap.
  • Locals use them for short distances and to transport stuff.

Getting Around El Malecón

  • Getting around the Malecón beachfront area is best done on foot or by taxi for short distances.
  • There’s no metro along El Malecón or at Plaza Juan Barón.
  • The official name of the Malecón seafront avenue is Avenida George Washington.
  • Plaza Juan Barón is therefore on Avenida George Washington.

Santo Domingo Metro

  • Metro line 1 and 2 extend into the city and surrounding areas covering 27 km.
  • The north-south metro serves the cultural area of Plaza de la Cultura.
  • The west-east metro goes into the shopping district.
  • Buy a Santo Dmingo Metro Card to use all lines.

Nearest Stations

  • Bávaro Expreso Bus Terminal - Calle Juan Sánchez Ramírez - 2.5 km from the Plaza.
  • Parque Enriquillo Terminal - Avenida Juan Pablo Duarte - about 3 km from festival site.
  • Metro S.T. Autobuses Terminal - Avenida Winston Churchill - 6.5 km from Plaza Juan Barón.



Free events
change currency
Prices in the table are quoted in EUR
Merengue Festval Tickets
  • Events at Plaza Juan Barón, and street parties along the Malecón, are FREE.
Food & Drinks
  • Cheap as rum & mangú may be, food and drinks at the festival are not free.
  • Buy rum cocktails and fried plantain snacks in the plaza and at street stalls.
  • The local currency is the Dominican Peso (DOP). 

Merengue Festival

Merengue Festival

Merengue Festival icon

Santo Domingo, Dominican R.

Plaza Juan Barón
type of festival
latin, world, afro-caribbean, acoustic & instrumental
other events
dance: extravaganza, dancing, folk; culture: rituals & traditions, beach party, street party; food: rum
start Sat, 26 August 2017
end Sun, 27 August 2017

Festival del Merengue: Rhythm + Rum

Festival del Merengue is a summer-long marímbula-bass-rich, tambora-drum-intense, rum-laden street & beach party with live latin, creole, bachata, salsa, merengue & Afro-Caribbean rhythms + folk ballet, brass-horn concerts & latino-flavoured worldbeat DJ dance sets. It’s merengue tipico on crowded streets, sultry Cuban son in quaint cafés, heady reggaetton in clubs + sexy gyrating hips & jiggling bosoms at weekend fiestas like the Festival del Merengue y Ritmos Caribeños (with lots of Brugal Rum) at Plaza Juan Barón on the first weekend in August. Non-stop Caribbean revelry fills the Malecón area - a 14 km park & palm-lined seafront esplanade between the cruise terminal & historic Zona Colonial - of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.


Festival del Merengue: Rhythm + Rum

It’s tropical heat and island humidity mixed with Dominican rum and intense tambora drum beats, melodic accordion, marímbula or bass guitar, and rhythmic metallic güira strokes (+ maybe a sax, trumpet, tuba, horn or even a keyboard), creating sultry merengue (as well as bachata, salsa and Afro-Caribbean rhythms) that cause hips to gyrate. A contagious fiesta spreads through Santo Domingo during July and August at the Festival del Merengue y Ritmos Caribeños where traditional merengue meets afrobeats, Cuban son, reggae, creole folk, latin pop, salsa, reggaetton, and fusion mixes like merenrap & merenhouse.

El Malecón

El Malecón, an area with a 14 km park and seafront boardwalk plus Plaza Juan Barón and the streets leading to the Zona Colonial, pulses with rhythms and sensuous dancing; couples with entwined hands and perspiring bodies move in unison (slightly dragging one foot as if tethered to a slave’s ball and chain), shifting weight from hip to hip. Dance floors are street corners, the beach and city squares; sponsored events include folkloric dance shows, popular merengue orchestras, appearances by local beauty queens, live bands + DJs spinning the latest electronic latin pop and merengue adaptations. It’s heat, rhythms & dancing amidst a carnival air with Caribbean street food, beach shacks, Presidente beer, mamajuana (a local aphrodisiac with rum, wine, honey + herbs) and the world’s best rum.

Festival del Merengue is tropical heat, rum, rhythms + dancing in Santo Domingo!

contributor: Festinga
published: 22 December 2015
updated: 18 October 2016
Age: Family, a family event with something for everyone
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General: biggest in the world, popular, best in the world
Ambiance: outdoor, urban, street, beach
Features: djs & sound systems, self-expression, debauchery, partying, relaxing, romance, adventure, self-discovery, live music & shows, street parties

Features of Dominican Republic’s Merengue Festival

Aside from the paradisiacal Caribbean weather of Santo Domingo, and white sand beaches along its turquoise sea, and of course Dominican rum, the main features of the Festival del Merengue are music & dancing, more specifically merengue, which is both the name of the music and the dance.

Dominican Merengue Dance

  • Merengue music & dance are often considered to be of Dominican origin.
  • Dominican merengue is closely related to Haitian Creole mereng or méringue.
  • It’s one of the main rhythms common to all Latin & Caribbean countries.

Ball & Chain

  • Its roots are connected to African slaves who were brought to the Caribbean to work on plantations, and who developed or adapted the dance to be able to move while dragging a ball and chain.
  • The ball and chain lead to a very simple, but unique step, one that continues to characterize the dance to this day, that of slightly dragging one foot more than the other while shifting the weight of the hips. This motion, despite its unsavory origins, causes a sensuous lower body gyration that allows the upper body to remain firm.

Merengue in Minutes

  • The Dominican merengue dance is usually performed by couples, not free-style.
  • The dance requires very little training to perform like a pro,.
  • Anyone with a sense of rhythm can learn the steps in a matter of minutes, which is perhaps why it’s become so popular.

Dominican Republic Merengue Music

Main forms of merengue music are:

  • Merengue típico or perico ripiao
  • Orchestral merengue
  • Guitar merengue

Traditionally instruments include:

  • Marímbula (now often replaced by an accordion)
  • Güira (metal scrapper - percussion instrument) for a raspy metallic rhythm
  • Tambora - a traditional two-headed drum
  • Orchestras include brass
  • Modern bands often add electronic keyboards instead of accordions.

Dominican Republic’s Biggest Summer Party

  • Merengue Festival is the Dominican Republic’s largest summer party. It is celebrated in teh city and at favourite beach resort areas like Puerto Plata.
  • Festival del Merengue features some of the world’s best merengue orchestras, live merengue bands, and top Latin-American DJs & dance music producers.
  • The summer festival is sponsored by the Dominican Republic tourism board, so street and beach events are free.


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Beds & Eats


Santo Domingo Accommodation


Eats & Drinks: Bars, Restaurants, Food Stalls, Water
Fresh & Clean: Toilets
Cash & Shops: Cash, Shops
Zone In & Out: no
Accessibility: no
Merengue Festival Amenities

This is a street, park & beachside festival. Amenities are varied.

  • Eats & treats are sold by vendors along the streets.  
  • Internet access is provided  by most hotels.
  • Banks have cash machines that dispense local currency.
  • Currency exchange at Casas De Cambio in the Zona Colonial will change dollars or euros for Dominican pesos.
Food & Drink
  • One of the highlights of the festival is eating and drinking.
Dominican Staples
  • Plantain, yuca, rice & beans are Dominican food staples.
Must Try Dominican Foods
  • La Bandera - stewed rice, beans & meat.
  • Mangú - mashed plantains
  • Tostones -fried plantain chips.
  • Yuca - fried, mashed or grated into casabe.
  • Mofongo - fried plantains mashed with pork skin chicharrones.
  • Moro (de habichuelas) - black beans & rice.
  • Chenchén - ground corn (maiz moulou in Haiti).
  • Asopao - comparable to creol jambalaya.
  • Pescado Frito - fried fish.
  • Pica Pollo - spicy & lemony fried chicken.
Must Try Dominican Drinks
  • Mama Juana - aged rum, red wine, honey, bark & herbs.
  • Santo Libre - (Dominican Cuba Libre) rum, club soda & lime.




start Sat, 26 August 2017
end Sun, 27 August 2017

Festival del Merengue Schedule

  • The Merengue Festival can be in July, August and September.
  • The celebration tends to spread all along the Malecón, although the 2-day Festival del Merengue y Ritmos Caribeños, sponsored by Ron Brugal, is held at the Plaza Juan Barón.
  • The Dominican Republic tourism office also presents a spectacular folkloric ballet and sponsors romantic classic singers of bachata as well as merengue orchestra performances at Plaza de España. 
  • Dominican beauty queens make appearances, and after several hours of dancing and debauchery, fireworks end the official celebrations. Crowds disperse to continue partying at clubs in the Malecón area.

Season & Weather

Season: Summer
Temperature: 23 to 31 °C

Santo Domingo weather in July and August is consistently hot, sunny and humid. Expect a typical tropical Caribbean island paradise!



Tel: + 809 221 4660
Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic
  • Calle Cayetano Germosen, esquina avenida Gregorio Luperón
  • Toll Free: +1 809-221-4660
Dominican Republic Press & PR Contact


  • Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic: Cayetano Germosen & Avenida Gregorio Luperón, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • Ron Brugal & Co.: Calle Del Carmen, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
merengue festival handler