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Cultural Activities & Holidays in Costa Rica

Costa Ricans know how to live it up! And they love company. So join them at one of their numerous fiestas, parades, carnivals or sporting Costa-Rica_National-Flower-2.jpg events and be a true Tico for the day.

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Tours & Packages

We can help you plan a vacation that will immerse you in Costa Rica's culture and local communities or we can help you figure out what will be going on culturally (parades, parties, bull fights, etc) when you will be here. We also offer volunteer opportunities that will connect you with local needs and cultures. Contact us for more information.  

Calendar of Major Events & Fiestas

January

  • 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 Middle of January, Week-long tennis tournament at the Costa Rican Country Club

February

  • San Isidro del General Fiestas - held in San Isidro del General (Perez Zeledon) 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 with vibrant music, dancing, art and cultural exhibitions

March

  • Bonanza Cattle Show - Bonanza Fairgrounds, San Jose, Traditional rodeos, bullfights and horse races with various exhibitions on cattle and livestock
  •  Dia de los Boyeros (Oxcart Driver's Day) - San Antonio de Escazu, Second Sunday of 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 feature over 300 orchid species
  • 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 that name, 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.

April

  • Holy Week- Semana Santa - Nationwide, (week before Easter) in March or April. Plan ahead if you're coming during this week to Costa Rica, 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 Santamaria 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.

May

  • 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 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

June

  • Saints Peter & Paul Day - Nationwide June 29, Religious celebration

July

  • 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

August

  • 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

September

  • Costa Rica's Independence Day - (also celebrated by most of Central America), Sept. 15. Costa Rica's Independence Day: parades, lantern making and a light parade.
  • International Beach Clean-Up Day - Nationwide, third Saturday in September. Locals and visitors work together to clean up their favorite beaches

October

  • 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

November

  • 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 commemorate their ancestors.
  • El Desfile de Carretas (The Parade of Carts) - end of November. Parade for oxcart owners from all over Costa Rica in San Jose to

December

  • 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. Firework displays
  • 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 celebrated holiday begins for Ticos in early December. Portales, or nativity scenes are put up and families make traditional foods such as tamales and rompope (eggnog).

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Official Costa Rican Holidays

  • January 1st: New Year's Day
  • March / April: Easter Holy Week: banks and many business close from Wednesday until Sunday. The dry law (no sale of any beer or liquor) is in effect from midnight Wednesday until midnight Friday.  Read more about Holy Week and see a video: Easter Blog 1 & Easter Blog 2
  • April 11: Juan Santamaria Day
  • May 1st: Labor Day
  • July 25: Annexation of Guanacaste Day
  • August 2: Honors Costa Rica's Patron Saint Virgin of Los Angeles
  • August 15: Mother's Day
  • September 15: Independence Day
  • November 2: All Soul's Day
  • December 25: Christmas Day

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San Jose Events and Festivals

These are some of San Jose's most popular events, each one attracting large crowds. Lots of people show up early to sample the snacks and to see the handicrafts offered by local vendors - cold drinks, beer, ice cream, bolis, potato chips, toasted plantains, candies and handmade jewelry and clothing.

January

  • New Year's Day - Zapote District of San Jose. Fireworks, street parties, local music, dancing and food
  • Copa del Cafe, (Coffee Cup) - San Jose, First week in January or Middle of January. Week-long tennis tournament at the Costa Rican Country Club

March

  • Bonanza Cattle Show - Bonanza Fairgrounds, San Jose. Traditional rodeos, bullfights and horse races with various exhibitions on cattle and livestock
  • Dia de los Boyeros (Oxcart Driver's Day) - San Antonio de Escazu, Second Sunday of 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 feature over 300 of orchid species (Contact the Costa Rican Tourist Board for location and dates)
  • Saint Joseph's (San Jose) Day - Nationwide, March 19. Religious celebration in all the neighborhoods with that name, with fairs and masses, local food, rides, topes and bullfights
  • 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.

September

  • Costa Rica's Independence Day - (also celebrated by most of Central America), Sept. 15. Costa Rica's Independence Day: parades, lantern making and a light parade.

October

  • Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day) - Paseo Colon, San Jose, October 12. Celebrating Columbus's discovery of the Americas

November

  • El Desfile de Carretas (The Parade of Carts) - end of November.  Parade for oxcart owners from all over Costa Rica in San Jose to December
  • 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
  • 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

December

  • Christmas: This family celebrated holiday begins for Ticos in early December. Portales, or nativity scenes are put up and families make traditional foods such as tamales and rompope (eggnog).

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Street Fairs (Fiestas Patronales)

Costa Ricans don't believe in waiting around for a national holiday to have a celebration. Each city hosts its own Fiesta Patronales where the locals come together to dance, eat, listen to music, watch rodeos and bullfights and simply enjoy a good time. Dates may vary from year to year, but usually occur around the following dates.

  • Mora - January 21 to February 28
  • San Vicente de Moravia - April 5
  • San Rafael de Santa Ana - April 16 to 25
  • Tarrazu - April 25
  • Desamparados - May 2
  • Coronado - May 15
  • San Isisdro de El General - May 15
  • San Marcos de Tarrazu - May 15
  • Trinidad de Moravia - June 13
  • San Jeronimo - June 13
  • Leon Cortes - June 13
  • San Pedro de Montes - June 13
  • San Juan de Tibas - June 24
  • Ciudad Colon - August 10 to 15Saprissa logo
  • Aserri - August 19
  • Desamparados - September 29
  • San Francisco de Dos Rios - October 4
  • Escazu - October 24
  • Pavas - December 4

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Sporting Events & Soccer!

Sporting Events

  • Costa Rica International Marathon - Parque La Sabana, San Jose, December 6, 2009: Every country hosts a challenging marathon for runners. The Costa Rican version begins at the national stadium, continues thru the residential areas towards the airport and loops back to the national stadium. Runners get a run for their money with the heat, hilly terrain, smog, cars and buses as mere obstacles to the finish line.

  • 10km International Race - September 27, 2009

  • Semi-professional/Amateur Football (Soccer) Championships: Parque Sabana Grande, San Jose
    Football (soccer) mania is all part of the Costa Rican culture and May to October is the semi-professional and amateur football  season at the National Stadium. Fans of all ages come in droves to watch the 22 division clubs battle it out at the championship matches for the top spot. Read more about soccer below. 
  • Copa del Cafe Junior Tennis Tournament: The world-class junior tennis tournament, started back in 1965 and held yearly since at the Costa Rica Country Club, attracts the best international players under the age of 18. January 5 - 10, 2009

  • Ruta de los Conquistadores Mountain Bike Race - Los Yoses, San Jose - October or November: Costa Rican's love mountain bikes! This four day, grueling coast-to-coast race that lasts four days. The route is 360 kms (225 miles) of climbing mountains heredia logoand volcanoes descending into valleys.

Soccer

Costa Rica has twelve division one teams divided up into two groups:

Group A

  • Deportivo Saprissa: home town is San Juan de Tibas, San Jose, and they play their home games at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium
  • Club Sport Herediano: they are from the city of Heredia and their home stadium is the Don Eladio Rosabal Cordero Stadium
  • Puntarenas F.C: They are home to Puntarenas City and play at the Miguel "Lito" Perez Stadium
  • Asociación Deportiva Carmelita: Based in Santa Barbara with their home stadium Carlos Alvarado
  • Asociacion Deportiva San Carlos: Based in Cuidad Quesada (San Carlos) and play home games at the Carlos Ugalde Álvarez Stadium
  • Universidad de Costa Rica: located in San Pedro just outsideUCR logo of San Jose City. Their home field is called 'Estadio Ecológico'

Group B

  • Liga Deportiva Alajuelense: The Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium is located in Llano de Alajuela
  • Club Sport Cartagines: located in Cartago at the Jose Rafael Fello Meza Stadium
  • A.D. Municipal Perez Zeledon: nicknamed 'Guerreros del Sur' or the Southern Warriors, they play at home at the Municipal Perez Zeledon Stadium
  • Brujas F.C.: relocated from Escazu to the "Cuty" Monge Stadium in Desamparados
  • Asociación Deportiva Ramonense: from San Ramón, Alajuela. Their home stadium is Guillermo Vargas Roldan.
  • Municipal Liberia Mia: based in the northern city of Liberia at the Edgardo Baltodano Briceño Stadium
For upcoming games, check out the Costa Rica Soccer site

 

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