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The Dominican Republic boasts of two Carnivals and several other celebrations throughout the year.
There are two large Carnivals in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. One is a pre-lent festival, held in mid February. There are parades, costume contests and mostly a raucous good time. The second major Carnival is in August and is somewhat more sedate (probably because of the heat)!
If you are planning a Dominican Republic family vacation, coming during festival might not be your best bet. If you want to experience some incredible local culture that combines the influences of Africa and Catholocism (as well as a lot of rum) then Carnival time is the time of year for you!