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Important Cultural Eventas & Festivals in Costa Rica

Independence day - 15 of SeptemberIn Costa Rica festivals and cultural events reflect the nations various ideologies and hopes, as well as wishes, worries and emotions of the Costa Rican population. The festivals show the cultural diversity, assimilation and mix of cultures in Costa Rica. They are based on important community activities, as for example the festival of seed and harvest celebrated by the indigenous communities. Some of these events serve as an opening for important buildings for the community: a church, school or a community hall.

Independence day - 15 of SeptemberOthers are held on determined dates of the year: in memory of significant events, civil and religious, for example the Independence Day, the celebration in honor of a patron saint, the Blessed Virgin or other saints. During these public festivals, the mingling of cultures in Costa Rica can be observed easily and in a specific manner: in the different musical direction or the varied selection of food stalls. Even the processions and parades couldn’t be more diverse: oxcarts decorated with icons, adults and children wearing typical traditional costumes, figures made of papier-mâché that picture devils and other bogies and mythical creatures, fireworks and games where one can prove courage and endurance, and many more. These cultural festivals are more than just moments of entertainment; they support the Costa Rican community spirit and patriotism, no matter what social class, religion, gender or ethnicity you belong to!

A selection of the most important cultural eventas & festivals in Costa Rica:

Public festival of Palmares
In the first two weeks of January. Dances, carnival, music, processions, bloodless bullfights.

Saints Day of Santa Cruz
In the week of January 15. To do homage to Christ of Esquipulas, patron saint of Santa Cruz. Dances, music, marimbas and bloodless bullfights.

“Coffee Cup”
Mid-January. Tennis tournament during the whole week, taking place in the Costa Rica Country Club (San Jose) – all participants are under 18.

Carnival of Puntarenas
The last week of February. A week filled with great festivities and parades in the sun of Puntarenas.

Oxcarts - Costa RicaOn the second Sunday in March in San Antonio de Escazu. Don’t miss the parade of colorfully painted cars pulled by oxen as well as the blessing of animals by a local priest!

Dia de San Isidro Labrador
March 15. Festivals all over the country in honor of San Isidro, the patron saint of the peasant, blessings of animals and harvest, as well as parades and markets.

The National Orchid Exhibition
National Orchid Exhibition - Costa RicaMarch 19. Religious festivals and masses in every city and village named after Saint Joseph.

The International Festival of Arts
The last two weeks of March. It is a program of the Department of Culture & Youth of Costa Rica. Since 1992 the worlds’ leading artists and local performers have been meeting every two years in San José. It usually takes place in several locations all over the country, the main site being San Jose, especially metropolitan park “La Sabana”.

Dia de la Virgen del Mar
On Saturday July 16. The festivities include a parade of colorful decorated fishing boats in front of the beaches of Puntarenas in the Gulf of Nicoya. One of the boats will carry the statue of the patroness of Puntarenas. Religious festivities (masses), parades, concerts, dances, sporting contests and fireworks.

Annexation of Guanacaste to Costa Rica
July 25th. The province of Guanacaste is celebrating the annexation from its territory of Costa Rica. It is customary in schools and colleges to do a ceremonial act, afterwards they sell typical foods, crafts and do parades. The Expo Liberia, a trade fair, will take place in the district of Liberia. In Santa Cruz and Nicoya, it is celebrated in a more folkloric way.

The day of the Blessed Virgin of Los Angeles
August 2nd. The holy patroness of Costa Rica, also lovingly called “la Negrita”. National pilgrimages and religious processions to the Basilica of Cartago, the former capital of Costa Rica.

Independence day - 15 of SeptemberIndependence Day
(for Costa Rica and the rest of Central America)

September 15. The torch, a symbol of freedom, will be brought from Nicaragua to Cartago by relay runners. At 6.15 pm all Costa Ricans nationwide will interrupt their activities to sing the national anthem. Parades and great festivals etc. In the morning there will be parades of school kids wearing historical costumes, as well as lantern processions.

Carnival of Limon
October 12. The “Columbus-Day” will be celebrated the whole week in the Caribbean style, in the seaport Puerto Limon with dances, parades and concerts.

Festivities in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Nicoya
December 12. This legend “The Miracle of the Hill of the Cross” relates to how the Virgin of Guadalupe saved two Guape Indians (twin brothers) from fighting, thanks to a mare jumping out of a nearby bush which came between the brothers and started kicking and biting them, and as a result was able to separate the two. The mare finally disappeared, leaving the brothers in complete astonishment. This festivity is famous for its dance of Yeguita. There will be typical food sales, popular bullfights and processions.

San Jose-Zapote Fair
From December 25th to 31st . The marketplace of Zapote will be transformed in a fairground. Funfair rides, snack stalls and local specialties, bloodless bullfights and fireworks.

Light festival - Festival de la Luz
Second saturday in December. A traditional Christmas parade with thousands of cars decorated with lights along the Paseo Colon and Avenida 2 in the heart of the city San Jose.

Horse parade (San José) and Carnival of Desamparados
December 26th and 27th. These two fairs are celebrated every year on these dates. For the traditional parade, the proud horse riders wear their traditional costumes and decorate their horses (Paseo Colón, San José, 26th of December).
The carnival of Desambarados (27th of December) is characterized by colorful state coaches and by the costumes of the participants, who dance to the rhythm of the bands.

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