Puerto Rico has one main export: music. Puerto Ricans grow up with music and dance. It’s no wonder, then, that finding free outdoor concerts is easy, as long as you know where to look.
Old San Juan
There are several free concerts during the week in the Old City. On the Paseo de la Princesa, bands and artists perform on Saturdays and Sundays from mid-afternoon until 5:00 p.m. The short street between the south-facing fortifications of the Old City is a farmers market, a festival, and a street fair all rolled into one. At the center of the activity there is a stage that hosts various acts, ranging from reggatone to salsa.
At the top of Old San Juan, near El Morro, Ostra Cosa offers nightly entertainment in an open-air plaza. Cabaret and salsa are the most common offerings. Cruise to the western end of Calle San Sebastián (at the intersection of Calle del Cristo) and listen to the music. 5 pm to midnight, generally.
The Old City also hosts monthly and annual events, such as the legendary San Sebastián Street Fair. Plaza Colón hosts monthly arts and crafts festivals with music, dance, and food. Plaza de Las Armas also hosts monthly events that include free music and performing art.
La Ventana del Mar de Condado is a hub of activity on Sundays. Twice a month, the park hosts a free jazz festival with dozens of vendors, food carts, and dancing. Generally, activities start around 10 a.m. M. And they continue until 5 to 6 p.m. M. Vendors represent a variety of crafts and art forms, including artisan baked goods and organic foods, in addition to traditional artisan offerings.
The city of Carolina holds a weekly jazz festival behind Walgreen’s on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer. Depending on the schedule, free buses operate between the parking lot adjacent to the Munoze airport and Punta Las Marías, providing services to all hotels. The quality of the artists is on par with the great jazz parties of Puerto Rico. The artists, in the purest Puerto Rican style, fuse New York and New Orleans inspired jazz with Caribbean influences. The staging area and the music and lighting equipment are set up for audiences the size of a large stadium.
La Placita is a relatively unknown local favorite for visitors to the Tourist Zone. The Gazebo hosts a weekly salsa band. La Placita is located between Dos Hermanos and Duffault Street, and during the day it functions as a farmers market. At night, adopt a party atmosphere. Dozens of bars and restaurants are located in a small two-block area, giving La Placita a min-mardi gras vibe almost every weekend.
On weekends during the day, Ultimo Trolley Beach attracts bands of local volunteers at the gazebo adjacent to the beach parking lot. These are authentic Puerto Rican salsa bands using traditional Puerto Rican musical instruments. Band members gather in the gazebo (apparently anyone can participate in creating the music) and perform traditional Puerto Rican standards to the crowd for free. Ultimo Trolley is located between Ocean Park and Punta Las Marias.
The music never stops in Puerto Rico. Demanding payment for an audience to listen to live music in San Juan is the exception, not the rule.