Festivals and Events in Costa Rica

Find out about the annual festivals and events that take place in Costa Rica throughout the year...

Costa Rica holds a variety of religious, music, art, historical and food festivals throughout the year.

January

Copa del Café: A tennis tournament for young players. It takes place at the Costa Rica Country Club in Escazú, San José over one week in early January.

Palmares: A large festival celebrated with bull parades, food, carnivals, concerts, firework displays, rodeos, and horse shows. 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.

Fiesta Patronal de Santo Cristo: 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.

Festival de las Mulas: Mule races, bullfights, a crafts fair, and music are all part of the festivities taking place at Esterillos Beach, near Jacó in late January.

February

Expo Perez Zeledon: 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. Held at the beginning of February in Perez Zeledon.

CENAC Summer Festival: The Ministry of Youth and Culture (CENAC) has a summer festival with dancing, live music, drama shows, storytelling, and movie screenings. Held in mid-February in downtown San José.

Good Neighbors Jazz Festival: Groups and artists play live jazz at local hotels, restaurants, and other venues around Manuel Antonio in mid-February.

Carnaval de Puntarenas: Includes firework displays, concerts, masquerades, fishing competitions, food, and music at Puntarenas City in mid-February.

Sun Festival: Festival promoting solar energy. There are exhibits of solar energy devices, food cooked with solar ovens, and a fire ceremony to honor the Mayan New Year, The festival begins on 25 February and lasts for one week.

Fiestas de Liberia: Festival with local food, music, dances and carnival rides. Held in Liberia, Guanacaste during the last week of February.

Monteverde Music Festival: The festival showcases Costa Rica's best musicians and artists and takes place in Monteverde, Puntarenas in late February and/or early March.

March

Dia del Boyero: This celebration honors ox-cart drivers (boyero) and features ox-cart parades and displays, as well as dancing, music and food.  Held on the second Sunday of March in San Antonio de Escazú, 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, San José.

Transit Arte Festival: Includes art sales, exhibitions, live music, and theater. The festival takes place at the beginning of March at the Morazan Park, downtown San José.

Envision Fest: Music, art, and sacred movement festival held in early March at Uvita, Puntarenas.

Caricaco Music Fest: National and international bands play live in Nosara, Guanacaste at the beginning of March.

Fruit Festival: With large displays of fruit and vegetables, as well as lectures, rides, and food in Orotina, Alajuela.

Festival Internacional de las Artes (FIA): International arts festival with concerts, art displays, theater, and dance performances by national and international artists at La Sabana Metropolitan Park ?n downtown San José. The festival starts on the second Sunday in March and lasts for one week.

Southern Caribbean Art and Music Festival: Organized by the Playa Chiquita Lodge, this month long festival showcases live music, art, and dance performances. Food and art exhibitions are also a big part of the event. Held in Puerto Viejo, Limón.

April

Dia de Juan Santamaría: A national event held on 11 April where marching bands and schools honor Juan Santamaría, a young war hero, killed fighting against William Walker in 1856.

Feria del Ganado: The Cattle Fair 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.

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 the last week of April and lasts for one week.

May

Corpus Christi: Religious parades and church services are held in the towns of Pacayas, Cartago on 29 May.

Carrera de San Juan: Long distance road race (22.5 Km) taking place in San Juan, outside San José.

Fiesta Cívica: Street fairs, bullfights, and horse displays are all part of this event which also features cowboy traditions, folk music and dance and traditional food. Held in Cañas, Guanacaste at the beginning of May.

June

Día de San Pedro y San Pablo: Processions and religious celebrations in honor of San Pedro and San Pablo are held throughout the country; San José in particular.

July

Festival de la Virgen del Mar: 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 Coco Beaches in Guanacaste.

Día de la Anexion del Partido de Nicoya: A national holiday on 25 July, Nicoya's annexure is celebrated with parades, bombas (a traditional story-telling activity) and a hymn.

Chorotega Tourist Fair: Celebrates the Chorotega indigenous tribe. Highlights of the fair include tastings of traditional Chorotega food, and art displays. Held in Nicoya in late July.

August

Día de Nuestra Señora La Virgen de Los Angeles: A religious celebration which is also a holiday. Those taking part in the pilgrimage must arrive at the Cathedral in Cartago City on 2 August.

Liberia Blanca Culture Week: Features horse and cowboy parades, as well as traditional food, dress and music. Held at the beginning of August in Liberia.

National Adventure Tourism Festival: With sporting competitions and exhibitions of white water rafting, kayaking, and mountain biking, amongst other sports. Held at the end of August in Turrialba City.

Día de San Ramón: Festival honoring the patron saint of San Ramón which features a statue being carried to San Ramón Church. Celebrations culminate with local music, parades, and street dancing. Held on 31 August.

Semana Afro-Costarricense: 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.

September

Correo de la Candela de la Independencia: A procession of runners carry the freedom torch from Guatemala to Cartago to celebrate the night before Independence from Spain. The torch arrives at 18:00 and is followed by the singing of the national anthem throughout the country. It is a tradition to carry lanterns painted with the colors of the national flag on the procession. Held in Cartago on 14 September.

Independence Day: A national holiday celebrated on 15 September. There are marching bands and other traditional parades held throughout the country, where the national anthem is sung.

Orosi Colonial Tourist Fair: Event held in Orosi, Cartago in mid-September and featuring cultural activities and exhibits on Cost Rica’s colonial heritage.

October

Carnavales de Limón: This carnival has the atmosphere of a Mardi-Gras festival with a Caribbean touch. There are parades with floats, street fairs, typical Limón food, local reggae and calypso music. Held during the second week of October in Puerto Limón.

Día de las Culturas: A holiday celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on 12 October. Festivities take place throughout the country; particularly in Puerto Limón.

Fiesta del Maíz: The Corn Party is a traditional event centered around the importance of corn crops, with activities such as dressing with clothes made from corn husks, and serving corn-based food. At Upala, Alajuela on 13 October.

Día del Sabanero: Cowboy's Day includes typical food, horse parades, and music. Held on 18 October in Liberia and the Parque Nacional Santa Rosa.

November

Día de Todos Santos: All Saints' Day 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.

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 lasts for a week and starts in mid-November in the town of Jacó on the Pacific coast, and culminates on the Caribbean coast.

Feria Agroecoturística: The fair celebrates Costa Rica's agricultural tradition with log-felling contests, tractor tours, horseback riding, and an orchid exhibit. Held in Atenas, Alajuela in mid-November.

Fiesta de las Carretas: The Oxcart Festival is a large oxcart parade held in late November in the La Sabana Metropolitan Park and along the Paseo Colón, San José.

Costa Rica International Film Festival (CRIFF): Independent film screenings, live music, art displays, film discussions, and parties. Held in Montezuma, Puntarenas in November or early December.

December

Fiesta de los Negritos: A Boruca tribe celebration which includes traditional Boruca costumes, dancing, and music. Held on 8 December in Boruca.

Fiesta de la Yegüita: 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, Guanacaste.

Tope Nacional de Cabllos: 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.

Festival de la Luz: The Light Festival includes floats, fireworks, and media coverage on national television. Held on 26 December along the Paseo Colón, downtown San José.

Carnaval Nacional: At the National Carnival locals dress up in costumes, and there is dancing, live music, and float parades. Held in San José on 27 December.

Fiesta de los Diablitos: 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.