The Feria Internacional de San José de David (www.feriadedavid.com ), usually shortened to Feria Internacional de David or simply Feria de David, is a huge trade fair that draws thousands of attendees from all over the country and abroad for 10 days in mid-March. It’s essentially a giant agriculture, livestock, and commerce convention, though it does make room for folkloric crafts and dances.
The fairgrounds take up 12 hectares on the western outskirts of town near Avenida 9 de Enero/1 Este, the road that leads to Playa Barqueta . In recent years it’s drawn 500 exhibitors from around Panama, Latin America, and beyond, including some from Europe and Asia, as well as 600 prize livestock specimens. It’s said to draw a staggering 300,000 attendees a year, though that’s hard to believe. One suspects a few of these get counted more than once over the 10 days.
David’s Barrio Bolívar  celebrates the Festival del Tambor at the end of November, around the time of Panama’s celebration of its independence from Spain on November 28. This is a traditional festival that features tambores (drums), tunas (marching bands), folkloric dances in colorful local costumes, and traditional chiricano food.
David  and its surrounding communities celebrate Carnaval along with the rest of the country. A particularly popular place to go for the celebration is Dolega, a small town about midway between David and Boquete . It’s less than 20 kilometers up the David–Boquete road. It’s a more mellow affair than Carnaval in Las Tablas  and Panama City .
March 19 is the fiesta patronal de San José, David’s patron saint’s day.
I’ve given up listing dance places in David ; they open and close so quickly recommendations are useless. It’s impossible even to point partiers to a nightlife neighborhood, as there isn’t one. My best guess for a place to try would be Calle Miguel A. Brenes/F Sur, which is a booming commercial corridor. Also check out Avenida Obaldía, the main entrance into the city.
Live dance-music shows are sometimes held in venues on or near the Interamericana. Taxi drivers will know the current hot spots (but be sure to ask for a “disco” rather than a “nightclub”—the latter is usually a euphemism for strip clubs and brothels). Or try the technique Andrea at the Purple House Hostel  uses when her guests want to go clubbing: She sticks her head out the window, listens for the loudest music, and points them in that direction. It works.
Pool players can knock balls around at Billar Top Place (Calle Miguel A. Brenes/F Sur and Avenida 5 Oeste), next to Restaurante Jenny #19, for US$1.50 an hour.
The best bets for movies are the Gran Hotel Nacional  (Calle Central between Avenida Central and Avenida 9 de Enero/1 Este, tel. 775-2221 or 775-2222, http://hotelnacionalpanama.com ) and the Chiriquí Mall  (Interamericana, west of David), both of which have six-screen multiplexes. Movies cost US$2.50, or US$1.80 for matinees.
Fundación C. Gallegos y Culturama  (Avenida 8 Este and Calle Central, tel. 774-0536) screens alternatives to Hollywood blockbusters on Wednesday nights.