Hipica Granada Nicaragua

Have you ever seen a dancing horse parade? If not, then you clearly haven’t been to Hípica! Hipica is a Nicaragua Horse Parade. Moreover, it is a popular equestrian festival in Nicaragua. Each city in Nicaragua has its own Hipica festival. These festivals occur throughout the year, generally corresponding with the patron saint day of each town or city. This Nicaraguan festival brings out all the locals in their Sunday finest to watch the spectacle of dancing horses, dancing humans and more! Experiencing cultural events like this are one of the joys of living in Nicaragua!

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What is las Hipicas?

Equestrian Woman Riding Show horse in Hipica Horse Parade Granada Nicaragua
A fine specimen of a horse!

Hípica means equestrian in Spanish, and the Hípica festival is a celebration of the horse culture of Nicaragua. Horse riding is extremely popular in Nicaragua. Spanish colonists brought the horse riding tradition to Nicaragua and the tradition continues to this day. Hípica is a celebration of all things horses and in particular the skills of race horses and their riders. Hípica parades happen in many cities and towns across Nicaragua at different times of the year. The hipica festivals usually include a Hipica Nicaragua horse parade, known as Desfile Hipico in Spanish.

Where is Hipica celebrated in Nicaragua?

The Hipica equestrian festival is celebrated in most towns and cities throughout Nicaragua. This Nicaragua blog outlines some of the major hipica festivals in Nicaragua.

When is Hipica celebrated in Nicaragua?

Nicaragua celebrates Hipica in most major towns and cities and these celebrations generally coincide with the patron saint festivities of each location. The details for some of these Nicaraguan Hipica celebrations are as follows:

  • Moyogalpa Ometepe Island: Hípica Ometepe Moyogalpa is usually on a Sunday in July to coincide with the feast day of Santa Ana. The feast day of Santa Ana is July 26.
  • Managua Nicaragua: Equestrians of Managua (the Managua Hipica festival) is usually on the 1st and 10th of August. The patron saint of Managua is Santo Domingo de Guzman, whose feast day is August 8.
  • Granada Nicaragua: Hípica de Granada (the Granada Hipica festival) is usually a Sunday in August to coincide with the feast day of the Virgin of the Assumption. The feast day of the Virgin of the Assumption is August 15.
  • Santo Domingo Ometepe Island: Hípica Ometepe Santo Domingo (the Hipica festival in Santo Domingo Ometepe Island) is usually on 3-5 December each year. This coincides with the feast day of the patron saint of Santo Domingo, Santa Barbara. The feast day of Santa Barbara is December 4.
  • León Nicaragua: Hípica de León (the Leon Hipica festival) is usually on the 2nd Sunday in December to coincide with the feast day of the patron saint of the Indigenous community Sutiaba, Santa Lucía. The feast day of Santa Lucía December 13.

Festival in Granada Nicaragua: Hipica Nicaragua

Hípica is one of the major festivals in Granada Nicaragua and people from all over the country descend on the city for this event. It is part of the patron saint festivities of Granada in the month of August. This festival is in honour of the Virgin of the Ascension, the patroness of Granada. We attended this event in Granada in 2020. In 2020, the Hípica Nicaragua festival in Granada was delayed until September.

The parade route starts at the stadium, goes down the main street, Calle Real Xalteva, past the Central Park and then down Calle La Calzada, ending at Lake Nicaragua.

Rotunda and Water Fountain at Parque Central Granada Nicaragua
Central Park of Granada Nicaragua

The parade was scheduled to start at 2pm. However in Nicaragua things often don’t run to schedule. There were plenty of bands playing music at this time. Most people had got the memo to turn up a little later! The main parade of horses and everything else under the sun started around 4pm.

What do people celebrate at the Equestrians of Managua festival?

The Equestrians of Managua festival is a celebration of Nicaragua’s horse culture. This festival is held over two days in the capital of Managua. The Managua hipica festival is usually held on the 1st and 10th of August. Expect a parade of horses and their riders marching though the streets and a joyous celebration throughout the city. There’s always plenty of food, music, dancing and of course bombas (fireworks). It’s a grand spectacle that is worth seeing!

Equestrian Rally in Ometepe

There are a number of Hípica festivals on Ometepe Island throughout the year, coinciding with the patron saint day of each town. These festivals are a vibrant celebration of horse riding culture.

  • In Moyogalpa Ometepe, the annual hipical festival is typically on a Sunday in July.
  • The annual Santo Domingo Ometepe hipica festival is from November 3-5 each year.

What to expect at an Hipica Nicaragua horse parade festival

Fairy Floss Vendor Dancing at Hipica Festival Granada Nicaragua
Getting the party started!

Las Hípicas festivals include plenty of music and dancing. Street vendors fill the streets. You can buy hot dogs and other fast food as well as traditional Nicaraguan food. You know it is a real fiesta once the fairy floss comes out! There’s no short supply of the stuff!

What we love about festivals in Nicaragua is their great atmosphere. The festivals in the last few years have been relatively quiet due to the Coronavirus, but there was still a decent turnout. We saw hundreds of horses on display. Some years there are thousands!

Parade of Horses and Carts along Calle Real Xalteva at the Granada Hipica Festival
Horse and Cart Parade

In addition to horse riders, there were horses and carts with passengers in their Sunday best. The fire department also joined in on the parade. And there was a float with dancers, causing parade gridlock when they stopped to perform the merengue!

It is pretty cool watching the horses dancing to the music. Certainly something you don’t see every day! The horses looked very well kept, with braided manes. Not to be outdone, the owners were also dressed in their finest!

Young boy riding a horse at the Hipica Horse Riding Festival on Calle Real Xalteva Granada Nicaragua
Fun for young and old!

What surprised us was how young some of the riders were. Surely they weren’t older than 5 years old in some cases! That was pretty cute.

Hipica is a major event and as such it is televised nationally. Jay, being the show pony that she is, even got in on the action! Clearly clueless gringos must pull in the ratings!

Woman getting interviewed at the Granada Hipica festival for Viva Nicaragua Canal 13
Jay getting interviewed for Canal 13!

One of our Nicaraguan amigos told us that the riders get their horses drunk. This seems a little crazy! Perhaps we lost something in translation here! However, we did observe were that the riders appeared to get on the booze pretty early!

Safety during Hípica

There is a big police presence at the event to keep the crowd under control. This is probably a good thing as the combination of a big day of drinking and riding horses can get a bit messy! Keep in mind that you need to be careful as there are pickpockets around. Specifically, we recommend leaving valuables at home. We also recommend that you keep a close eye on your phones as well. This is because snatch and grab robberies are reasonably common during festivals. Thankfully we had no issues.

Hipica Granada Nicaragua, Drunk man falling off horse
One Toña too many!

Final thoughts on the Hipica Nicaragua horse parade

Hípica is a spectacle to behold with the people of Nicaragua coming out in their finest to proudly show off their steads and have a good time. Be sure to immerse yourself in the experience if you get a chance!

If you want to learn more about visiting Hípica, check out our Hípica video, also available in Spanish.

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