Time Era

Historic time period: 1801–1861

A Puerto Rican Carnival

People in Ponce, Puerto Rico, have been celebrating Carnival for over 250 years! Each year the Carnival lasts the whole month of February with parades, music, and special events. The Carnival is a special celebration before the Christian season of Lent, the six weeks before Easter. During the Carnival, people make elaborate masks, dress up in costumes, dance, and play music.

The National Museum of American History is fortunate to have many Carnival-related artifacts generously donated by collector Teodoro Vidal.

Children's book author and illustrator Lulu Delacre tells the story of the Ponce Carnival in her book Vejigante Masquerader. The main character, Ramón, longs to masquerade as a vejigante with his older brothers. The bilingual tale presents the reader with a rich history of the Carnival tradition of Puerto Rico.

Take a few moments to explore the Try It! activities on this page to learn more about the carnival traditions of Puerto Rico. You can explore the history of the Ponce Carnival, participate in hands-on activities such as creating a Carnival mask at home, and learn how to become a collector!

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Read This Book

You can learn more about carnivals and other aspects of Puerto Rican culture in these books. Click on the book titles below for more information, or visit our complete bibliography.

Vejigante Masquerader book cover

Featured Book

Vejigante Masquerader

by Lulu Delacre

Vejigante Masquerader. Text and illustration copyright 1993 by Lulu Delacre. All rights reserved. Used by permission from Scholastic, Inc.


  • Make Your Own Carnival Mask

    Make Your Own Carnival Mask

    Play and Create

    Here are simple directions you can use to make your own traditional Ponce Carnival mask.

    Download the PDF »
  • Dress for the Ponce Carnival

    Dress For the Ponce Carnival

    Play and Create

    Learn the tradition of the vejigante costumes, and color in your own vejigante masquerader with traditional Ponce Carnival colors.

    Download the PDF »
  • Become a Collector

    Become a Collector

    Play and Create

    What kind of things do you like to collect? Follow these tips for starting your own collection!

    Download the PDF »

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