Boquete—Celebrating 10 Years of Culture

One of the things folks love about Boquete is there’s always something to do. It may be an art display, live musical performance, photography exhibit, or live stage production. Since expats and retirees began moving to this rural town they have transformed it into the cultural Mecca of western Panama.

Now, two major cultural institutions in Boquete are marking their tenth anniversaries. The Boquete Community Players, known as the BCP, just celebrated 10 years of theater and much more in September 2015. And in February 2016 the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival, or BJBF for short, will mark 10 years of outstanding musical performances. It’s time to celebrate in Boquete!

The year 2005 was a pivotal one for several active residents of Boquete. They wanted to bring live theater and other artistic performances to the town and formed a group to accomplish this, calling themselves the Boquete Community Players. Initially they staged small productions in the donated space of a Panamanian bank building, making do as best they could. Then in 2009 a local business woman made them an offer—a long-term lease on an unused building right beside the Caldera River that runs through town. The location couldn’t be better, and a hardy corps of volunteers went to work renovating the structure. Several months later the first production in their new home was presented at the new BCP Theater and Event Center.

In recent years, Boquete’s expat community has worked together with locals to set up a weekly market, a library, and a host of cultural and artistic activities.

Since then dozens of plays, concerts, and other performances have been staged at the BCP. It’s also the venue for the Tuesday Morning Market and Meeting, held weekly throughout the year. This September the BCP celebrated their tenth anniversary with a number of festive events—including special galas, stage revues, and art displays.

The first edition of the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival took place in February, 2006. A local gent from David, Antonio Singh, organized what was originally known as the Boquete Jazz Festival and led the group through to 2011. He engaged local businesses and sponsors to support the festival and promoted it throughout the musical world. In 2011 a new foundation was created to direct the festival. They added blues musicians to the mix and changed the name, and Hans Lebuser took over at the helm. This spectacular event has grown every year and now draws musicians from Central, North and South America as well as Europe. Fans come from all over the world to listen to top-quality performers in one of the most-beautiful venues imaginable.

The festival takes place over five days, starting with a New Orleans-style jazz parade through the middle of town, just to get everybody in the mood! Restaurants and the BCP host jam sessions, workshops, and concerts, with two major performances on the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday afternoon glorious music flows from the outdoor amphitheatre at Valle Escondido, where the natural seating is lined with attendees. The setting, the sunshine, the sound and the sensations just don’t get any better! The tenth edition of the BJBF is scheduled for February, 2016 and promises to be the best yet.

These two milestones cement Boquete’s position at the top of the arts and culture scene in Panama and justify its reputation as one of the best places in the world to live or retire.

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