On January 21, the Día de la Virgen de la Altagracia (the protector of the hearts of all Dominicans), nearly 2,000 pilgrims climb up to the top of El Morro to pray and camp out overnight. Simultaneously, many pilgrims are on their way to the La Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia in Higüey  to pray.
Carnaval in Monte Cristi  is a particularly legendary one. It is one of the oldest Carnaval celebrations in the country, having started 471 years ago. On Sundays during the entire month of February, spectators have the opportunity to witness a competition between the toros (the bulls) and the civiles (the civilians). It is an aggressive spectacle but popular nonetheless.
Around two in the afternoon the Monte Cristi streets fill up with music, costumes, and the colorful crowds of Carnaval. The toros wear costumes with elaborate bull masks and wield whips. The civiles are undisguised and unprotected, and yet, they taunt the toros, which the toros gladly take on. What happens then seems a strange custom to visitors: The civiles voluntarily accept furious whip lashes from the toros. If you want to see the tradition, don’t step into the street—it is sometimes seen as a challenge. Stay clear but enjoy this very old and exciting festival’s tradition.