Festivals, Events, and Holidays
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Local fiestas called turnos are found nationwide, notably in Guanacaste and Nicoya, highlighted by rodeos, fireworks, and firecrackers (bombetas). Individual towns also celebrate their patron saint’s day: Highlights usually include a procession, benign bullfights, rodeos, dancing, and parades.
Costa Rica is a Catholic country, and its holidays (feriados) are mostly religious. Most businesses, including banks, close on official holidays. The country closes down entirely during the biggest holiday time, Easter Holy Week (semana santa), Wednesday through Sunday—a good time to see colorful religious processions. Buses don’t run on Holy Thursday or Good Friday. Banks and offices are closed. And hotels and rental cars are booked solid months in advance as everyone heads for the beach. Avoid the popular beaches during Easter week. Most Ticos now take the whole Christmas (navidad) holiday week through New Year as an unofficial holiday.
- January 1-----------New Year’s Day
- March/April-------Easter Week
- April 11-------------Juan Santamaría Day
- May 1----------------Labor Day
- May 29--------------Corpus Christi Day
- July 25--------------Annexation of Guanacaste Day
- August 15-----------Mother’s Day
- September 15------Independence Day
- November 2--------All Soul’s Day
- December 25-------Christmas Day
Festivals and Events
Alajuela: Fiesta Patronales. Parade and pilgrimage (week of January 15).
Palmares: Folk dances, music, rodeos (early January).
Santa Cruz: Fiestas de Santa Cruz. Folk dances, music, rodeos, bullfights (week of January 15).
Puntarenas: Carnival. Parade floats, music, and dancing (first two weeks).
San Isidro de El General: Agricultural fair, bullfights, floral exhibits.
Escazú: Día del Boyeros. Oxcart parade with music, dancing, and competitions (second Sunday).
Cartago: Holy pilgrimage to Ujarrás (mid-month).
Playa Chiquita: Caribbean Music Festival.
San José: National Orchid Show.
Alajuela: Juan Santamaría Day. Parade with marching bands (April 11).
San José: University Week. Concerts, exhibits, parades (final week); Festival de Slasa. Concerts, dance parties.
Puerto Limón: May Day. Cricket matches, music, and dancing (May 1).
Zarcero: Tourist Fair (mid-month).
Monteverde: Tourist Fair (late June).
Puntarenas: Virgin of the Sea Festival. Boat regatta, parades, music, fireworks (Saturday closest to July 16).
Cartago: Día del Virgen de los Ángeles. Religious processions (August 2).
Nationwide: International Music Festival. Concerts ranging from classical to jazz.
Puerto Limón: Festival Afrocultural. Celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture.
Turrialba: National Adventure Tourism Festival. Competitions and demonstrations of kayaking, rafting, mountain biking (end of month).
Nationwide: Día de Independencia. Parades, marching bands, music and dance (September 15).
Puerto Limón: Carnival. Music, dancing, parades (mid-month).
San José: Feria Indígena. Celebration of indigenous culture.
Upala: Fiesta del Maíz. Parades and music in celebration of corn (maize).
Nationwide: All Soul’s Day. Church processions (November 2); Encuentro Nacional de la Mascarada Tradicional. Clowns and masks.
San José: International Festival of the Arts. Dance troupes, theater, experimental music, puppets, jazz, folklore, and classical music; Oxcart Parade. Boyeros camp and hold a song festival in Parque La Sabana, followed by a parade down Paseo Colón (last Sunday).
Nationwide: Immaculate Conception. Fireworks (December 8).
Nicoya: Fiesta de la Yegüita. Processions, bull-fights, fireworks, and concerts (December 12).
Nationwide: Los Posadas. Caroling house to house (December 15 onwards).
Nationwide: Topes Caballos. Horse parades, including downtown San José (December 26).
Boruca: Fiesta de los Negritos. Costumed dancing (December 8); Fiesta de los Diablitos. Indian festival, masked dancing, fireworks (December 30).
Nicoya: Fiesta de la Yegüita. Processions, bullfights, fireworks, and concerts (December 12).
San José: Festival of Lights. Parade with floats adorned with lights, plus fireworks (second week).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition