Make your stay a little more special by joining the local folk in frequent celebrations. At any time you may run into a local Tope (a great excuse to get your finest on and ride your favorite pony around town for the day or night). Ask your hotel anywhere in the country if they have a Tope when you are going to be there (see if you can do a ride-a-long if they have horses - be aware Topes do have a lot of stallions and semi-drunken riders). Note that Costa Rica doesn't do much if any promotion for any of these festivals - many are religiously inspired - so they may be hard to find. Here are some of the many good excuses for a celebration:


  • Fiestas de Palmares: 2 weeks in January, excuse for a binge also Tico bull fights (noone gets hurt except the kids), parade etc
  • Alajuelita & Santa Cruz: Fiestas Patronales 15th January: dancing, marimba, bullfights


  • San Isidro de El General: Fiestas Civicas 1st & 2nd February: bullfight, orchid exhibition, agricultural fair
  • Rey Curre/Talamancas: Fiestas de los Diablos: Indian festival, masked dancing


  • Escazu: Dia de los Boyeros - March 2nd Sunday: National Oxcart Day - colorful beautifully decorated oxcarts and their flamboyant boyeros (drivers) - a tradition that may soon be lost - try not to miss it
  • San Jose: Earth Day 19th February: Indian handicrafts
  • Heredia/Escazu, San Jose: Semana Santa end of the month: processions of effigies


  • National: March or April - Semana Santa/Easter - small religious processions and burning of the Judas can be a bit crazy - best not to be on the streets that Saturday night in some parts of the central valley
  • National: Juan Santamaria Day - April 11th - marching bands, parades, concerts


  • Puerto Limon: May Day 1st of May cricket matches, dances
  • Canas: Fietsa Civica early May bullfight, tope etc


  • Ujarras near Cartago: Chayote Festival - what a wonderful part of Costa Rica - visit the ruins and eat Chayote?
  • Alajuela: Mango Festival parade perhaps music (may also be held end of June - this event rarely seen)
  • Guaytil: (I am guessing) Chorotega Fair - I'd go if I knew something about it
  • CATIE near Turialba: International Feval mid Justily music, food, activities - this is a most wonderful location - at the University campus I must guess
  • Playa del Coco/Puntarenas: Carnival Sunday nearest 16th boat parades, concerts, fireworks
  • Liberia/Santa Cruz: Guanacaste day 25th July folk dancing, marimba, rodeos, bullfights
  • Nicoya: End of July Anexion de Partido de Nicoya - 6 day fiesta lights, marimba, tortillas, dancing and even rumored fireworks and a bike race


  • Cartago: Virgin of Los Angeles 2nd August religious procession (crawling Christians) vast influx of pilgrims on the roads to Cartago - up to 1 million people reported to visit though nobody ever counts - yes you can drive to Cartago that day but leave plenty of time - a huge event
  • San Ramon: Dia de San Ramon 3rd August religious procession
  • Santa Cruz Turialba: Expoferia del Queso 2nd and 3rd weekends of August - set in a remote field in one of the most beautiful areas of Costa Rica - nice visit
  • San Jose: Costa Rican International Book Fair - last week in August - usually at the old Aduana building - a very nice affair for a country essentially with no book culture


  • Uvita: First 2 weekends of September - pangas on the beach for whale tours, festival setup at Uvita beach entrance. Also volunteer at the Reserva Playa Tortuga for night walks in protection of the Olive Ridley Turtles nesting on the beach (near Ojochal just south of Uvita).
  • Nationwide: Independence day 15th September lantern parades at night, marching bands and all the kids in the morning - the biggest parades short of winning a game in the Mundial.  The parade in Alajuela is exceptional.


  • Puerto Limon: Carnival 10th to 12th October (night) floats, dancing
  • Upala: Fiesta de Maiz October 12th - corn queen contest, corn festival


  • Meseta Central: Coffee picking tournament - try and find it?  I never have :-))
  • San Jose: International Theater Festival November 10th to 15th - plays, street theatre


  • Boruca: Fiesta de Los Negritos 8th December costume dancing
  • Nationwide: Dia de la Polovra 8th December (night) fireworks
  • Zapote/San Jose: Fiesta de Zapote bullfight, binge
  • San Jose: Carnaval faire, fireworks, bullfight, lights - the big one
  • Boruca: Fiesta de los Diablitos 30th or 31st Dec for 3 days - good one - re-enactment of the Spanish invasion
  • National: New Years Eve - bucket loads of fireworks from 1000's of homes
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