Festivals and Events
As a Catholic country Costa Rica observes a number of religious holidays throughout the year including Easter and Christmas. The Caribbean influence is also strong with a number of vibrant carnivals held across the country. Here's our selection of the best festivals and events.
Held in the small town of Zapote this is the ultimate bull riding event for Costa Ricans with riders flocking to show off their skills. The event is similar to a traditional rodeo with the added bonus of spectators trying their hand at the sport, which can make for some funny moments.
Fiesta of the Diablitos
This three day event takes place in late January in Rey Curré village near San Isidro de El General. Villagers re-enact the struggle between the native population and the Spanish conquerors with dance displays wearing wooden devil masks and costumes. During the festival there are also firework displays and Indian handicraft markets.
Día del Boyero (Oxcart Drivers' Day)
In the suburb of Escazu in San Jose on the second Sunday of March each year colourfully painted oxcarts parade through the streets to celebrate the agricultural heritage of the region with local priests blessing the oxen.
Juan Santamaría Day
The country's national hero is honoured every April with parades of flag-bearers and drummers. Juan Santamaría was a drummer boy from the city of Alajuela who was a pivotal player in the victory in the Battle of Rivas in 1856.
On the 15th September each year Costa Rica's independence from Spain is celebrated with a children's marching band parade playing the national anthem on steel xylophones. Spectators will often carry homemade lanterns to symbolize the original freedom torch.
Caribbean culture is what is showcased during this colourful carnival of parades, floats, music, rum and plenty of dancing. It's a time to let your hair down and have fun with a festive vibe taking over the port city of Limon. The carnival is likened to a smaller Mardi Gras.
Festival de las Luces
Costa Ricans begin to celebrate the Christmas and New Year festive period with the Festival of Lights. Firework displays and music concerts take place across San Jose with the city decorated in pretty lights. Grand parades of floats adorned with lights travel through the streets with a competition for the best floats.