Village fairs are a Costa Rican cultural fact, are very popular, and are celebrated much like a carnival. They range from popular musical groups, parades on horseback, moonlight festivities, the selection of a reigning queen, masquerades, dances, even bingo, and the famous barrel races in which a hoop is thrown over a barrel by galloping horseback riders. Each festival is an excellent introduction to the Costa Rican cultural life, and an opportunity to enjoy the local entertainment.
Palmares Festival: First two weeks of January includes a parade, bingo, food, concerts, carnival, and more.
Alajuelita Festival: The week of January 15th in Alajuelita. Parades with oxcarts and a walk to the Alajuelita Cross are organized to honor the Cristo Negro de Esquipulas.
Santa Cruz Festival: The week of January 15th in Guanacaste. Marimba music and typical dances are organized for this celebration given in honor of the Cristo Negro de Esquipulas.
Guanacaste String Festival: Late January. An eclectic mix of musical styles in Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast.
FEBRUARYMayan Festival of the Sun
Puntarenas Carnival: The first two weeks of the month. An entire week of fun under the sun.
Festival of the Sun: The last week of the month. This celebration promotes solar energy. There is an exhibition of solar energy items, and cooking with solar ovens. On February 25th, to celebrate the Mayan New Year, there is a Fire Ceremony.
Monteverde Music Festival: February-March. The best musicians in the country play in this remote cloud-forest village.
Liberia Festival: The last week of the month. The best folklore of Guanacaste, concerts, parades, etc.
Open-Air Festival: The last week of the month. Costa Rican National Cultural Center offers concerts, free theater, and dance shows in San José.
Oxcart Day: The second Sunday, held in San Antonio, Escazú. Colorful parade of oxcarts. The local priest blesses the crops and the animals.
Liberia Fiestas: The first week of the month. Folk traditions, concerts, and rides in Liberia.
Caribbean Music Festival: March-April. On Chiquita Beach outside Puerto Limón.
Pilgrimage to Ujarras: Middle of the month. Religious processions from the Cartago Ruins to the Ujarras Church.
APRILSemana Santa Festival
Holy Week: March or April. Religious processions of the crucifixion. All businesses close from Thursday to Sunday, especially all Costa Rican government offices and banks.
International Art Festival: From the 5-21st in San José. Concerts, dances, theater, and exhibits.
Juan Santamaría Day: April 11th. The national hero is honored with concerts, parades, and dances, especially in Alajuela where Juan Santamaría was born.
Luz de Luna Festival: The third week of the month. Costa Rican cultural events, concerts, dances, folk traditions, and plays in Santa Ana, southwest of San José.
San Isidro Labor Day: May 15th. Each of the villages that is named after San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers, celebrates with carnivals and parades. Crops and animals receive blessings.
Father’s Day: Third Sunday of June.
JULYVirgin of the Sea Festival
The Virgin of the Sea: The Saturday closest to July 16th. Decorated yachts and fishing boats greet the patron saint of Puntarenas. Parades, fireworks, dances, and more.
Annexation of Guanacaste: July 25th. A celebration of the 1824 decision to remain part of Costa Rica, and not Nicaragua. Carnivals in Liberia, parades, folkloric dances, bull fights, and concerts, etc.
The Virgin of Los Angeles: August 2nd. The patron saint of Costa Rica is honored with a national pilgrimage to the Cartago Basilica. A celebration of the miracles of the “Negrita”.
Mother’s Day: August 15th. National holiday. The only country in the world that makes Mother’s Day a national and paid holiday.
San Ramon Day: August 30th. A parade to the San Ramon Church with the patron saints of the different districts. Parades, dances in the streets, and lots of fun.
Afro-Costa Rican Cultural Week: End of the month. Conferences on Afro-Costa Rican culture, exhibits of black culture, and discussions in Puerto Limón.
SEPTEMBERWhales n’ Dolphin Festival
Whales n’ Dolphin Festival: First two weekends. Held in Uvita. Boat tours, dances, and various celebrations.
Independence Day: September 15th. Relay race throughout all of Central America. Students carry a freedom torch from Guatemala to Costa Rica. School bands and groups of children participate in parades with lanterns.
OCTOBERPuereto Limon Carnival Festival
Puerto Limón Carnival: Second week of October in the city of Puerto Limón. A full week of Caribbean music, dancing in the street, and parades.
San Isidro de General Festival: October 10th. Celebrates the founding of the fastest growing city in Central America.
Culture Day: October 12th. The Spanish conquest is celebrated with indigenous protest marches.
Corn Festival: October 13th in Upala. Parades with outfits made out of corn.
All Saints Day: November 12th. This is a day to celebrate the dead. Families visit cemeteries to remember their loved ones.
Oxcart Parade: Last Sunday of the month. Oxcart drivers camp in La Sabana Park, and hold Campesino Song Festivals with a parade along Paseo Colón.
DECEMBERFestival of the Devil
Festival of the Negritos: The week of December 8th in the indigenous village of Boruca. Indigenous rituals are combined with Catholicism. The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception is honored with flute music, costumes, and drums.
Christmas Choir Festival: First week of the month. Choirs from around the country perform at the National Theater in San José.
Festival of Lights: Second week of the month. Parade of floats adorned with lights, fireworks, and concerts in San José.
Festival of the Yegúita: The week of December 12th. The Virgin of Guadalupe is honored with concerts, processions, fireworks, and typical food.
Christmas Celebrations: Nativity scenes are set up in homes and businesses. Children begin singing Christmas carols on December 15th.
Popular Festivals: From December 25-31st. In Zapote, in the southern end of San José, an amusement park is set up with a bull corral, food, typical music, and fireworks.
Parade: December 26th. In San José. A parade on horseback celebrates all of the horseback parades throughout the year.
Carnival: December 27th. In San José. A large carnival with colorful carrousels and music.
Festival of the Devil: December 31-January 2nd. The Boruca Indians of Rey Curré perform a fight/dance between the Spaniards (Bulls) and the Indians (Devils) to the sounds of drums and flute music.
Contact us for more details on great things to see and do while in Costa Rica.