Do you want to experience the true Costa Rica? The best way to do that is by celebrating one of the many lively cultural fiestas, events, carnivals, or topes (horse parades) held all over the country. Here you can see “Ticos” in their element, make new friends, try new foods, see the traditions of Costa Rica, and enjoy an all-around fun day!
Costa Rican Celebrations
New Year’s Day – Zapote District of San Jose
- Fireworks, street parties, local music, dancing, and food
Palmares Civic Fiestas – Palmares, last two weeks of January
- The largest traditional fiestas: bullfights, Topes (horseback parades), concerts, festivities for kids, nightclubs, food stands, carnival attractions, and rides
Alajuelita Fiestas – week of January 15
- Alajuelita’s Patron Saint, Esquipulas: ox-cart parade
Santa Cruz Festivals (Fiestas de Santa Cruz) – Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, week of January 15
- Religious festival: folk dancing, marimba music, and bullfights
Copa del Cafe, (Coffee Cup) – San Jose, first week in January or in the middle of January
- Week-long tennis tournament at the Costa Rican Country Club
San Isidro del General Fiestas – San Isidro del General, first week of February
- Agricultural exhibits, cattle shows, and local flower exhibits
Fiesta of the Diablitos – Rey Curre village near San Isidro de El General, late February
- Traditional Borucan Indian dance representative of the Spanish conquest of Central America, firework displays, and an Indian handicrafts market
Puntarenas Carnival – Puntarenas, last week of February
- Vibrant music, dancing, art, and cultural exhibitions
- Bonanza Cattle Show – Bonanza Fairgrounds, San Jose
- Traditional rodeos, bullfights, horse races, and cattle and livestock exhibitions
Dia de los Boyeros (Oxcart Driver’s Day) – San Antonio de Escazu, second Sunday in March
- Vibrantly painted oxcarts parade through San Antonio de Escazu while local priests bless the animals and crops for the farming season
National Orchid Show – San Jose, one weekend Mid-March
- Growers from all over the world display over 300 orchid species (contact the Costa Rican Tourist Board for location and dates)
Orotina Fruit Festival – Orotina, mid to late March (usually 3rd week of March)
- A huge open air market and traditional Costa Rican style fiesta, all with a fruit-inspired theme. Enjoy seasonal tropical fruits, traditional music, and horse parades.
Saint Joseph’s (San Jose) Day – Nationwide, March 19
- Religious celebration in all the neighborhoods with the name of St, Joseph, with fairs, and masses, local food, rides, topes, and bullfights
Ujarras – Cartago, middle of March
- A religious procession from Cartago to the ruins of Costa Rica’s first church
International Arts Festival – Calle 21, Avenida 2, San Jose, second week of March only on even-numbered years
- Showcases local and international theater, art, and music.
Easter Week- Semana Santa – Nationwide, (week before Easter) in March or April
- Plan ahead if you’re coming during this week to Costa Rica, as it’s the busiest season since the majority of “Ticos” flock to the beaches. And the ones that stay home join religious celebrations and processions that take place on the streets and in churches
Juan Santamaría Day – Nationwide, April 11
- “Ticos” commemorate the death of their national hero, Juan Santamaria, who heroically died in a battle against William Walker’s troops in 1856. It’s a week long celebration with parades, concerts, typical food, and dancing.
Puerto Limon – Limon, May 1
- Family picnics, cricket matches, dances, and games.
San Isidro Labrador’s Day – Escazu, May 15
- Celebrated countrywide in towns named “San Isidro”, honoring the Patron Saint of farmers and farm animals with the blessings of future crops and livestock, fiestas, and parades
San Juan Day, Carrera de San Juan – Cross-country Marathon, May 17
- The biggest marathon of the year from the outskirts of Cartago to San Jose
Corpus Christi Day – Nationwide, May 29
- Religious celebration
Saints Peter & Paul Day – Nationwide, June 29
- Religious celebration
Virgin of The Sea – Puntarenas, Saturday closest to July 16
- Featuring a colorful fishing-boat regatta where fishermen honor the Virgin in hopes of another safe year at sea. Tasty regional delicacies, dancing, and a parade
Guanacaste Day, Annexation of Guanacaste Day – Liberia, July 25
- Commemorating the annexation of the “Partido de Nicoya” in 1824 (known today as Guanacaste province). Folk dances, topes, cattle shows, bullfights, and concerts
Los Mangos Festival – Alajuela
- Local arts and crafts, parades, and music
Fiesta of the Virgin of Los Angeles – Cartago, August 2
- Honors Costa Rica’s Patron Saint, “La Negrita”. A nationwide pilgrimage and religious procession to the Basilica in Cartago
San Ramon Day – San Ramon, August 30
- Religious processions with 30 Saints from nearby towns visiting the Patron Saint in San Ramon with parades, dancing, and music
Costa Rica’s Independence Day – (also celebrated in most of Central America), Sept. 15
- Costa Rica’s Independence Day: parades, lantern making, and a parade.
International Beach Clean-Up Day – Nationwide, third Saturday in September.
- Locals and visitors work together to clean up their favorite beach
San Isidro del General – San Isidro, October 9
- Anniversary of the founding of San Isidro
Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day) – Paseo Colon, San Jose, October 12
- Celebrating Columbus’s discovery of the Americas
Limon Carnival – Puerto Limon, October 12 (Part of the Columbus Day celebration)
- Lively dances, music concerts, and parades
Virgen del Pilar’s Day – Tres Rios, October 12
- A Patron Saint
celebration: parade and interesting costumes fashioned out of corn husks and silks
Corn Festival, Fiesta del Maíz – Upala, October 12
- Exhibiting Costa Rica’s corn crops: Typical foods, arts and crafts
All Souls Day, Día de los Muertos – Nationwide, November 2
- Not as celebrated as in Mexico, however, most Costa Ricans remember the dead with flowers and trips to the cemeteries. In the Cemeterio Central of San Jose, mourners hold vigils and decorate grave sites to remember their ancestors.
El Desfile de Carretas (The Parade of Carts) – end of November
- Parade for oxcart owners from all over Costa Rica in San Joseto
Fiesta de los Negritos – Boruca, week of December 8
- Boruca Indians honor the feast day of the Patron Saint, the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception with traditional music, costumes, and dances
Immaculate Conception – Nationwide, December 8
Festival de la Luz (The Festival of Lights) – San Jose, first week of December
- A local party after dark on the streets of San Jose: fireworks and live music performed by local bands
Fiesta de la Yeguita (Little Mare) – Nicoya, December 12
- The statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe is paraded through the streets of Nicoya with music and dancing
Dia de la Polvora – San Antonio de Belén and Jesus María de San Mateo, December 8
- Fireworks to honor Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Las Posadas – Nationwide, begins December 15
- Christmas carolers travel from home to home re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay
El Tope and Carnival – San Jose, Dec. 26
- The largest and most popular traditional Tope Nacional (horse parade). Horses and riders are elaborately decorated in the parade along Paseo Colon to Avenida 2, followed by music, food, costume contests, and dancing.
Carnival – San Jose, Dec 27
- A huge parade with music, dancing, and floats
Nationwide Christmas Celebrations
- This family holiday starts to be celebrated, in early December, by “Ticos”. “Portales”, or nativity scenes are put up and families make traditional foods such as tamales and rompope (eggnog).
Now that you know more about the culture of Costa Rica you can decide when to go and where. So, it’s time to start planning the time of the year when you will be traveling to Costa Rica!
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