Costa Rica is an incredible place to visit all year long. Native Ticas and Ticos will look for any opportunity to celebrate, so there is usually a party or festival happening! The vast majority of the population identifies with the Catholic Church and share the vast majority of those holidays, yet they still recognize and celebrate local customs. If you plan on visiting Costa Rica anytime throughout the year, we have you covered with our month by month celebration guide!
New Year’s Day
January 1st – All Of Costa Rica
Throughout the world, countries celebrate New Year’s Day as a time for new beginnings and changes, and Costa Rica is no exception. The vast majority of people are going to head to the beaches to ring in the New Year, but all of the area hotels and clubs offer grand festivities. It is not surprising to see a wide variety of impromptu street parties throughout the country. A quick visit with the hotel concierge, and you’ll know where to find the hottest festivities. Our main piece of advice is to be outdoors once that clock strikes midnight! Almost everyone in Costa Rica is going to be setting off fireworks, and it makes for an unforgettable night.
Fiestas of Palmares
The First Two Weeks in January – Palmares
For two full weeks, the Fiestas of Palmares becomes one of the largest and longest parties of the year. One could almost consider it the Octoberfest of Costa Rica. During the festivities, one can enjoy unlimited amounts of beer, food, fireworks, concerts, parades, carnival rides, and even bloodless bullfights.
Fiestas of Santa Cruz
The Middle Of January – Santa Cruz, Guanacaste
The religious Fiesta of Santa Cruz features plenty of dancing, fireworks, marimba music, and food to honor Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, a famous Guatemalan statue. The festivities take place in the quaint town of Santa Cruz at two locations. Cultural activities can be found at the Parque Bernabela Ramos, while bull riding is located in Plaza de los Mangos.
Fiesta of the Diablitos
The First Weekend of February – Rey Curre Village
The Boruca people in the region celebrate this multi-day festival. It helps to pay homage to their ancestral spirits and the tribe’s eventual conquest over Spanish conquistadors. Men from the village will dress up as diablitos with bright wooden masks and one person will play the part of the bull, representing Spanish conquistadors, recreating the hostilities between the Borucas and Spanish. At times it may seem as though the conquistadors may win, but the Boruca remain steadfast and succeed as they did historically. The festival features a beverage known as chicha, which is a traditional fermented corn drink. The festival takes place in two indigenous communities, the Rey Curre village, and the Boruca village. The festival is open to the public, but there is a fee for taking photographs.
Día del Boyero (Oxcart Drivers’ Day)
The Second Sunday Of March – Escazú
During the Oxcart Driver’s Day celebration, oxcart drivers from all parts of Costa Rica will arrive with colorful carts and parade them through the streets of San Jose, where the oxen will be blessed by local priests.
National Orchid Show
The End of February Through Mid March – San Jose
One can find over 300 orchid species in this competition that features growers from around the world. The dates for the festival will vary by year, so always check in advance.
The Week Leading up to Easter – Throughout Costa Rica
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a celebration of the Catholic church that honors the passing and resurrection of Jesus. Throughout the towns and cities of Costa Rica, there are colorful religious processions taking place. Easter Holy Week is also one of the most popular times for family beach vacations.
Juan Santamaria Day
April 11th – Alajuela
Juan Santamaria was a simple drummer boy who became a national war hero in Alajuela when he helped to stop the march of the United States through Central America. The Costa Rican military was abolished in 1948, but his victory is still celebrated to this day with a series of concerts, dancing, and parades.
Workers or Labor Day
May 1st – Throughout Costa Rica
Labor Day throughout Costa Rica is celebrated with fireworks, food, parades, and presidential speeches. The vast majority of schools and businesses in the area will be closed for the day.
Fiesta of the Virgin of the Sea
July 16th – Puntarenas
Decorated fishing boats will carry the statue of the Virgin of Mt Carmel along the coastline to honor the patron saint of Puntarenas. During these festivities, you will find yourself surrounded by fireworks, various sporting events, and dancing. This celebration is also held at Playas del Coco.
July 25th – Liberia
Guanacaste Day is celebrated to help commemorate the annexation of Guanacaste from the Nicaraguan government in 1824. Throughout the day there will be folk dances, concerts, horseback riding parades, and bullfights.
Virgin of Los Angeles Day
August 2nd – Cartago
The Virgin of Los Angeles Day is designed to follow the pilgrimage of Costa Rica’s patron saint in which individuals will walk the 15 miles from San Jose to Cartago Basilica.
San Ramon Day
August 30th – San Ramon
Typically, one will find over thirty statues of patron saints from the surrounding areas all brought to the streets to be paraded amongst the music and dancing to honor San Ramon’s patron saint.
Costa Rica’s Independence Day
September 15th – Throughout Costa Rica
September 15th is the day that Costa Rica celebrates its autonomy from Spain during 1821, and is celebrated with music in the streets and children singing the national anthem of Costa Rica. Street vendors will be selling traditional Costa Rican foods during this celebration. It is a great time to celebrate freedom and enjoy great food!
Carnival / Dia de la Raza
The Week of October 12th – Limon
This incredible twelve-day festival commemorates Columbus’ arrival to the coast of the Caribbean in 1402. Incredible food, vibrant clothing and costumes, street dances, and loud concerts in the city are all part of the celebration. Compare this to the Carnival of Brazil with fewer people and a much more laid back atmosphere! If you desire to visit during the Carnival, be sure to get all your reservations in as early as possible!
Dia de los Muertos (All Souls’ Day)
November 2nd – Throughout Costa Rica
Similar to the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, but not as extravagant, it is designed as a way to honor the dead of Costa Rica with prayers, flowers, and cemetery visits.
Festival de la Luz
Second Saturday in December – San Jose
The Festival of Lights, or Festival de la Luz, is held during the second Saturday of December. This celebration is the start of the official holiday season and begins with festive music and fun for all. The streets of San Jose fill with gorgeous white floats that illuminate the streets with lights and holiday cheer. After the festival, the night sky is filled with holiday-themed fireworks!
December 15th – Throughout Costa Rica
Starting on December 15th, individuals begin singing door to door and recreating the journey of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter before the Christ child was born. The group will continue their journey until they reach the destination of a home or church that will invite them in and end their journey and begin a celebration.
Christmas Eve & Day
December 24 & 25 – Throughout Costa Rica
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are traditional days for families to spend together in Costa Rica. On Christmas Eve, throughout Costa Rica, children all over the land will leave their shoes by the door in hopes that they are filled with candy and small gifts. Many will attend a midnight mass in town, called the Mass of the Rooster or Misa de Gallo. When the mass concludes, there is a giant Christmas meal. This is an incredible time to sample so many flavors of Costa Rica like tres leches cake or tamales.
El Tope Nacional de Caballos
December 26th – San Jose
On December 26th, the national horse parade, or Tope Nacional de Caballos, is held in the streets of San Jose. Individuals from all over the country come to celebrate the horse and their strong agricultural ties to the Earth.
Things to Consider Before Traveling
During many of these holidays, local businesses, banks, and government buildings will be closed. Also consider that many of these holidays are popular for Costa Rican families and they enjoy traveling as well, so hotels will book up fast. When considering any of these holiday events, especially Christmas, be sure to book as early as possible.
So, are you ready to enjoy a spectacular holiday vacation in Costa Rica? Take a look at our vacation packages and start planning for a once in a lifetime trip! Call today for more information.