Cultural Calendar

Throughout the year there are many special celebrations around the country in Costa Rica. Some outstanding events include parades by children on Independence day Sept. 15th; the long walk or Romeria to the Basilica on August 1st to 2nd where up to 2 or 3 million people participate; the oxcart parade of the “boyeros” in March; the east coast “Carnaval” style celebrations in October in Limon; and popular festejo civicos or community festivals in honor of patron saints that usually include parades with the typical “gigantes”, children’s games, a soccer game and perhaps live music and a dance at night and frequently conclude with fireworks. In the dry “summer” months beginning in January and continuing into April, there are several weekend orchid shows where local clubs take great pride in displaying their best orchids. These often colorful activities show the spirit and traditions of Costa Rica, and are interesting to view for a glimpse into the true tico culture. In the following calendar we have listed several of these annual events.

January


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Coffee Cup: A tennis tournament for young players. It takes place at the Costa Rica Country Club in Escazú, San José the first week of January.
    • Fiestas de Palmares (Palmares Town Festival): A large festival celebrated with bull parades, food, carnivals, concerts, firework displays, rodeos, and horse parades. Some of the attractions are only for those aged 18 years and older, as they are usually sponsored by liquor, cigarette, or party planning companies. It takes place over two weeks in mid-January in Palmares, Alajuela province.
  • Mid Pacific:
    • National Mule Festival: Mule races, bullfights, a crafts fair, and music are all part of the festivities taking place at Esterillos Beach, near Jacó the last week January. Puntarenas province.
  • North Pacific:
    • Fiesta Patronal de Santo Cristo (Santo Cristo Town Festival): Rodeo, folk dancing, and an oxcart (carreta) parade in honor of the Christ of Esquipulas (Santo Cristo de Esquipulas). It takes place over two weeks in mid-January in Santa Cruz, province of Guanacaste.

February


 

  • Central Valley:
    • The Orchids National Fair: The first National Orchid Exposition was held on 8-9 May 1971 and since then is held annually during the last week of February. In addition to the purple orchid (Guarianthe skinneri), this exhibition is a showcase for pure species and hybrid orchids.
      This fair is considered the most striking exhibition and largest orchids in Costa Rica and Central America and is recognized by the American Orchid Society for the quality and variety of the exposed plants. It usually takes places in the city of San Jose.
  • Mid Pacific:
    • Carnaval de Puntarenas: Held in Puntarenas capital city during the last week February.
  • North Pacific Valley:
    • Fiestas de Liberia (Liberia Town Festival) Festival with local food, music, dances and carnival rides. Held in Liberia, capital city of the province of Guanacaste, during the last week of February.
  • South Pacific:
    • Expo Perez Zeledón: Events such as rodeos, cattle and horse exhibitions and displays are a big part of the event, along with orchid and agricultural displays, and beauty contests. The last week of February in Perez Zeledón, province of San Jose.

March


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Boyero Day (Oxcart-driver Day): This celebration honors oxcart drivers (boyero) and features oxcart parades and displays, as well as dancing, music and food. Held on the second Sunday of March in San Antonio de Escazú, province of San José.
    • Festival Internacional de Diseño (FID): The International Design Festival has exhibits by various design companies, with the participation of design experts from all over the world. Held in early March at Antigua Aduana of Costa Rica, city of San José.
    • Fruit Festival: With large displays of fruit and vegetables, as well as lectures, rides, and food in Orotina, province of Alajuela, held in mid March.
  • Northern Zone:
    • Chiverre fair (Spaghetti Squash Fair): Held in early March in Zarcero, province of Alajuela.

April


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Climate Fair: Held in mid April in Atenas, province of Alajuela.
    • Día de Juan Santamaría: A national day held on 11 April in downtown Alajuela city, where marching bands and schools honor Juan Santamaría, a young war hero, killed fighting against William Walker in 1856.
    • Semana Universitaria: The University of Costa Rica’s (UCR) annual cultural event with food fairs, student exhibitions, sports activities, live concerts and the crowning of the university queen. The event takes place on the University’s Campus, in San Jose, in the last week of April, it lasts for one week.
  • Northern Zone:
    • Feria Del Ganado (The Cattle Fair): It is one of the largest cattle exhibits and auctions in the country, and also features horse parades and carnival rides. It takes place mid-April in Ciudad Quesada, San Carlos, province of Alajuela.

May


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Corpus Christi: Religious parades and church services are held in the towns of Pacayas, province of Cartago on May 29.
  • Northern Zone:
    • Zarcero Tourism Agricultural Expo: Held at the beginning of May in Zarcero, province of Alajuela.

July


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Chayote Fair (Squash Fair): Held the last week of June in Ujarras, province of Cartago.
  • North Pacific:
    • Día de la Anexión del Partido de Nicoya (Annexation of the Partido of Nicoya): A national holiday on 25 July, Nicoya’s annexation is celebrated with parades, bombas (a traditional story-telling activity) and a hymn. Province of Guanacaste.
    • Festival de la Virgen del Mar (The virgin of the sea festival): Boat regattas, religious ceremonies, dances and fireworks in honor of Carmen, the Virgin of the Sea. The event lasts for one week, beginning on the Saturday closest to 16 July, in Puntarenas City, and El Coco Beaches in Guanacaste province.

August


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Día de San Ramón (San Ramon day): A procession with religious images, these are carried by the faithful to the San Ramon Church, and the image is representative of the nearby places, local institutions, from other districts and localities. During the activity is a tradition that the image of San Ramon Nonato is loaded by the faithful outside the temple to receive other images that visit the town. The celebrations culminate with local music, parades, and street dancing. Held on 31 August, province of Alajuela.
    • Festival Internacional de las Artes (FIA): International arts festival with concerts, art displays, theater, and dance performances by national and international artists. Held the first week of August in different parts of the country.
    • Jocote (Jamaica Plum Fair): Held the month of August-September in the town of Aserrí, province of San José.
    • Nuestra Señora Virgen de Los Angeles (The Virgin of the Angels): A national holiday that celebrates Costa Rica´s Patron Saint, in the city of Cartago, every August 2. A huge Catholic event, the most important in the country, that attract thousands of pilgrims from all over the country and Central America.
  • South Caribbean:
    • Semana Afro-Costarricense (Afro-Costa Rican week): A celebration which honors Afro-Costa Rican culture with displays of art and culture. The event lasts for one week in August or September in Puerto Limón city, province of Limón.

September


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Independence Day: 15 Sept. A national holiday. Some torch parades the day before.
    • Independence Torch Parade: 14 Sept. Torch parades throughout Costa Rica at 6pm.
    • Pejibaye (Peach Palm Fair): The end of September or the first week of October. It take place in the town of Tucurrique, province of Cartago.

October


 

  • North Pacific:
    • Sabanero´s Day: Cowboy’s Day includes typical food, horse parades, and music. Held on October or November in Liberia city, province of Guanacaste.
  • South Pacific:
    • Cultures Day: A holiday celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on 12 October. Festivities take place throughout the country; particularly in Puerto Limón.

November


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Día de Todos Santos (All Saints’ Day): It is held on 2 November in Costa Rica, and is celebrated with church processions all over the country. Families visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried to lay flowers on the graves.
  • South Pacific:
    • La Ruta de los Conquistadores: A mountain bike race which follows the route once taken by the Spanish Conquistadors led by Juan de Cavallón. The trail crosses Costa Rica from coast to coast and is one of the most challenging bike races in the world. The race starts the first week of November in the town of Jacó on the Pacific coast, and culminates on the Caribbean coast.

December


 

  • Central Valley:
    • Christmas Day: Dec 25. National Holiday
    • Christmas Eve: Dec 24.
    • Festival de la Luz (The Light Festival): A very popular festival! It includes floats, fireworks, and media coverage on national television. It normally takes place the second Saturday of December, along the Paseo Colón in downtown San José.
    • New Year: Dec 31.
    • Tope Nacional: The most famous and largest horse parade (Tope) in Costa Rica! More than 3,000 horse riders exhibit their best horses and skills in a parade which is broadcast on national television. The parade takes place on Paseo Colón in downtown San José on 26 December.
    • Vuelta Costa Rica (The Tour of Costa Rica): It takes place on Dec 14 until the 25th . It refers to multi-day bicycle racing stage races held annually since 1965 in Costa Rica.
  • South Pacific:
    • Fiesta de la Yeguita: The event is based on a legend of the Chorotega tribe. The Nicoyans carry an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a religious procession, combining Roman Catholicism and Chorotegan indigenous beliefs. Bull runs, fireworks and concerts all take place on 12 December in Nicoya, province of Guanacaste.
    • Fiesta de los Diablitos (Devils party): Villagers dress as devils and run through the village of Boruca re-enacting colonial battles against the Spaniards. The event takes place between 31 December and 2 January. Province of Puntarenas.

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