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Leisure and Entertainment

Panama - Leisure and Entertainment

Panama has a good variety of nightlife, particularly in the capital. There is something for all tastes from nightclubs to theatres. Some of the larger hotels have live entertainment such as bands, so no matter where you are in the city you should be able to find something that suits you. Other major cities such as Colon also have a wide range of facilities for the evening. Restaurants, bars and cafes are now no smoking venues, but smokers can smoke outside if they wish. Restaurants of all cuisines are well-established in the cities.

Many people come to Panama for the shopping as it is a largely duty free zone. Panama City has a number of shopping malls, where visitors can find both high street names and designer labels and there are good shopping facilities in some of the other cities. The local markets are particularly popular for unusual items.

Sporting activities are high up on the list of leisure activities pursued by both expats and native Panamanians. Water sports in particular are very popular with scuba diving and swimming available in many locations along the coast. Some of the golf courses in the country are considered to be first class and among the most popular spectator sports are basketball, baseball and football.

Spending time in some of the National Parks is also a popular pastime, with more than 25% of the land under a protection order. Many people come to the country to take part in bird watching, as the country is home to several rare species. Eco-tours are guided tours through these protected areas and people can learn more about the work that is being done. Trips to the Chiriqui Highlands and the Volcan Baru are also popular.

Panama has a number of public holidays and festivals which are celebrated annually. Each year there is a carnival held in the capital over a period of four days prior to Ash Wednesday. Visitors can see dancing and live music as well as the parade through the streets. The party atmosphere is very strong, so might seem overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of opportunities for newcomers to join in the celebrations. The country celebrates similar public holidays as many other countries, such as New Year’s Day, Christmas Day and May Day, although there are a number which are unique to the country, such as Colon Day on November 5th, Independence Day on November 28th and Mother’s Day on December 8th.

Some of the main cultural attractions are Panama’s museums. The Museum of Natural Science has a large collection of artefacts relating to the geological and paleontological history of the country. The Canal Museum is a recent addition to the cultural scene in Panama and traces the history of the Canal in great detail, including some documents which date back to the very early planning stages of the project. Art lovers will enjoy the Museum of Contemporary Art, which also has a good collection of early art from the region. The museum showcases the work of internationally renowned artists as well as local artists. The Panama History Museum has exhibitions which show the history of the country from the time the Spanish arrived.

Most of the cities in Panama have at least one cinema complex and these show international movies as well as some locally made film. Films that have been made in the English language are usually shown with subtitles rather than dubbed voices. Most top Hollywood movies are shown in Panama. Those who live in rural areas may find that they need to travel a short distance to find a cinema.

The theatre is becoming a popular night out with most Panamanian citizens. The National Theatre is located in Panama City and there are a number of smaller venues which regularly host plays and musical theatre, some of which will be familiar to expats. The smaller venues offer more independent and local productions.

The city of Panama Viejo was founded by one of the Spanish conquerors in the 16th century and now has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a popular place to visit for those who are interested in the history of the area.

Useful Resources

Cines Panama - movie listings

BCP Theater & Events Center

Read more about this country

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