Festive Season, subdued but special, carries on throughout the Caribbean

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The holiday season at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana embraces festive moments with family-friendly activities.
The holiday season at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana embraces festive moments with family-friendly activities.

It's the Festive Season, the description the Caribbean gives to the holiday period that officially kicked off on Dec. 15 and runs through early January on many islands.

Despite the fact that Covid-19 that has canceled many celebrations this year, some of the islands and resorts have a sleighful of activities, culinary enticements and visits by masked Santas to entertain locals and guests.

Puerto Rico is home to the longest holiday season, which lasts an epic 45 days from Thanksgiving to mid-January. It's typically filled with religious pageants, parades, music, street fairs, food stalls, art exhibits, lights and decorations throughout the island.

For visitors who may have had to postpone their holiday visits this year, Discover Puerto Rico offers a taste of five of the island's festive cocktails to try at home: coquito, the island's take on eggnog; pina colada; frozen boozy coconut-limeade; mojito; and strawberry champagne.

St. Croix hosts its Carnival Festival between Christmas and New Year's. The Crucian Carnival features events in both Christiansted and Frederiksted, including calypso shows, Latin music venues, food fairs, horse races and parades. Some of the scheduled events available to spectators (masked, of course) are the Crucian Culinary Show on Dec. 29, the Children's Parade and Reggae Night, both on Jan. 1 and Calypso Night on Jan. 3. Three Kings Day celebrations  round out the Christmas Carnival season on St. Croix on Jan. 6.

Visitors to Grenada can experience the trimmings of a traditional Grenadian Christmas at hotels and resorts throughout the island; traditions include Parang songs accompanied by drums and string instruments; black cake made with island-distilled rum and flavored with island-grown nutmeg; and spiced ginger beer, sorrel juice and rum punches.

Here are examples of other offerings at specific resorts:

The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel tracks Santa's magical journey around the world on Christmas Eve on a giant monitor on display for guests of all ages. Freshly baked cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer are provided. Guests also can cozy up for a holiday movie under the stars, accompanied by a cocktail for adults and ice cream sundaes for the kids. Screenings are Dec. 24 through 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Holidays at Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana include themed arts and crafts and interactions with costumed characters in festive outfits. Kids can spend Christmas Day making holiday souvenirs at Club Nick and taking photos with SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer.

Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic is full of Christmas activities for all ages and in keeping with the health protocols of masks, social distancing and use of hand sanitizers. Mariachi nights, sports competitions, drive-in movie nights, a golf cart Christmas decorating contest, bossa nova sunset nights at Minitas beach, a flamenco show at la Marina, Catholic masses at the Altos de Chavon Church and an end-of-the-year fireworks show are on the holiday calendar. Christmas Eve dinner specials are offered at each of the resort's eight restaurants.

Azul Beach Resort Negril offers a traditional Christmas dinner with a Jamaican twist, and fireworks and rooftop entertainment on New Year's Eve.

Seven Stars Resort & Spa in Turks and Caicos launched the holiday season with its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony and visits by Santa and Mrs. Claus, both of whom wore masks and were tested for Covid before lighting the tree.

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