Costa Rica may be a Catholic country, but its people absolutely know how to party. Oftentimes they even use religious holidays as an excuse to do so. Small festivals take place throughout the country all year round, but the celebrations ramp up during the holiday season, and involve everything from bullfighting and carnival rides to fireworks, marimba music, feasts, and jubilant dancing. Zapote, which happens in the eponymous neighborhood in San José, is the biggest of these festivals and features elaborate rollercoasters and the largest bullfights of the year. Palmares – Costa Rica’s equivalent of Oktoberfest – is the longest party of the year. And down on the Southern Pacific coast, the traditions of the area’s indigenous people are honored during the Fiestas de Los Diablitos.
Fiestas Zapote. During this annual festival in January, the fiercest bulls from all over Costa Rica descend on the city’s capital to compete in the biggest rodeo of the year. Additionally, entire blocks are closed off, booths and fair rides are constructed, and the sweet aroma of meat-on-a-stick wafts in the warm air.
Límon Carnival. Picture Brazil’s Carnival, transport it to the Caribbean port city of Límon, subtract a few thousand people, and there you’ll have Costa Rica’s Carnival. Every year, the costumes and floats that parade through the town seem to grow more elaborate, showcasing the country’s Caribbean culture, fun-loving vibe, and festive people.
Envision Festival. Do you like to cover yourself in glitter and dance with abandon? Have you used the word “manifest” as a verb? If you responded yes and yes, this gathering of the world’s trustafarians and psychedelia enthusiasts might be just the festival for you. A campsite and a bunch of stages and booths comprise the four-day hippie extravaganza, which involves art, yoga, music, crunchy food and sacred movement, whatever that is.
Fiestas Palmares. This is Costa Rica’s biggest cowboy party, and it lasts two whole weeks. With horse parades, rodeos, musical performances, carnival rides, and a seemingly infinite supply of beer, this festival attracts close to a million people from all over the country. Take the trip, but be sure to keep your wallet in a safe place; Palmares is a pickpocket’s dream.
Fiestas de los Diablitos. Translated to mean Festival of the Little Devils, this event takes place in two indigenous communities, Boruca and Rey Curre, in December and in February, respectively. The villagers don masks and costumes representing ancestral spirits, and then reenact a victory over the Spanish conquistadors via dancing. They also drink chicha, a fermented corn beverage, out of hollow gourds.
Semana Santa (Easter). This festival starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday. Costa Rican regard a religious event or festival in high esteem and celebrate as a party. Semana Santa or Easter-the Holy Week, celebrating demise and resurrection of Christ is celebrated by the people of the country. Though the processions are held in each city by Catholic churches, the procession in San Jose city is the main attraction since the cast of the National Theatre Company participates in it. This company features various bands and professional musicians. People who don't take part in the religious celebrations can spend some leisure time in the beach area.
Día Nacional del Boyero. Each year on the second Sunday of March a beautiful parade takes place in San Antonio de Escazu to celebrate the tradition of oxcart drivers, the oxen, and the vibrant oxcart art. During the festival, hundreds of oxcarts, drivers, and oxen pairs show up from all over Costa Rica. This tradition is a rich part of Costa Rica’s history and culture and there is a lot of pride taken in the creation and display of the oxcarts. The parade is complete with music and the day ends with a firework display.
International festival of arts. During the summer, typically the end of June through the beginning of July, the Sabana Metropolitan Park in San Jose transforms into a festival site in honor of the arts. There are multiple main stages set up throughout the park where theatrical performances from the National Theatre and Melico Sabzar Theatre take place, as well as concerts and circus-like acts. Around 2,000 artists from 28 countries attend the festival to share their art. There are around 320 different art shows at the festival. This is a spectacular cultural and art event that the entire family will enjoy. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities and performances there, too.
Orotina Fruit Festival. During the third week of March, one of the main agricultural zones of Costa Rica, Orotina, puts on a fruit festival to celebrate its heritage, culture, and agricultural traditions. Farmers are carefully selected to display and sell their fruit based on the quality of their fruit and their dedication to environmentally friendly farming practices. There is a huge open-air market, workshops that are aimed at teaching farmers and attendees environmental awareness, a Miss International Fruit beauty pageant, a tope (horse parade), music, food and drinks, and carnival rides and games. This is a great place to experience all of the amazing exotic fruits of Costa Rica.