Costa Rica Travel Guide

Public Festivities

Dec 25 - Christmas Day
Nov 2 - All soul’s Day
Sep 15 - Independence Day
Aug 2 - Virgin de los Angeles Day
July 25 - Guanacaste Day
June 29 - St. Peter and St. Paul’s Day
May 26 - Corpus Christi
May 1 - Labor Day
Apr 11 - Juan Santamaria Day
Apr 24-27 - Easter
Mar 19 - St Joseph’s Day
Jan 1 - New Year’s Day

San José Festivals and Events

The Copa del Café, a week-long tennis tournament, draws an international collection of talented teenagers.

In the Carrera de la Paz, a footrace held in March, around a thousand people run from San José’s National Gymnasium to the campus of the University for Peace in Villa Colón.

Featuring 500-plus species, the National Orchid Show, a weekend-long festival, takes place in the Colegio de Medicos y Cirujanos headquarters in Sabana Sur every March.

Taking place on the second Sunday in March, National Oxcart Day celebrates the boyero (oxcart driver) and the carreta (the wooden-wheeled painted cart); the locus for the celebration is in San Antonio de Escazú outside of San José.

The nation’s cattlemen assemble at the Bonanza Fairgrounds, on the airport highway, for the Bonanza Cattle Show every March. Featured are prize bulls, bullfights, rodeos, horseraces, and mechanical bulls.

Taking place the same month, the Crafts Fair on the Plaza de la Cultura has 150-200 local artisans exhibiting their wares.

In San Jose’s Plaza de la Democracia, an annual three-day Festival of Native American Handicrafts in April is followed by the celebration of Earth Day.

Many events are held in and around San José during Easter Holy Week (Semana Santa) from Wed. noon through Sun. During University Week, taking place around the beginning of May, University of Costa Rica students crown a queen, and participate in sports events and a parade. Many local bands also perform on campus. This is a great time to investigate what college life is like here.

On May 15, the Día del Boyero (“Day of the Oxcart Driver”) is held in San Antonio de Escazú near San José. Activities include parades featuring brighly colored oxcarts, as well as blessing of animals and crops by the local priest.

On San Juan Day, May 17, around 1, 500 run the Carrera de San Juan, 22.5 km from El Alto de Ochomongo (near Cartago) to San Juan de Tibás, N of San José.

Celebrating International Black People’s Day and taking place in San José every August, the cultural week Semana Afro-Costarricense’s highlights are lectures, panel discussions, and displays.

At 6 PM on Sept. 15, the nation’s Independence Day (which is also that of all of Central America), the Freedom Torch, relayed by a chain of student runners stretching all the way from Guatemala, arrives in San José, and Ticos join in singing the national anthem. That evening schoolchildren march in farole (lantern) parades, carrying handmade lanterns along the route.

Sponsored by the Asociación Canófila Costarricense every Nov., the International Dog Show has a splendid assortment of dogs.

Year’s end fiestas: Commencing with the distribution of the aguinaldo, the annual bonus given to salaried workers, the city’s liveliest time is during the month of Dec. Sidewalks are crowded with chinamos stalls which sell toys, nativity creche paraphernalia, and fruit such as apples and grapes. Merchants are open for extended hours, and the streets get wilder and wilder as the month progresses. During the last week of Dec. and extending through the beginning of January, bullfights are held at the Zapote ring daily; the topé, a procession of horses, departs from Paseo Colón, proceeds along Av. Central and ends at Plaza Viquez. Finally, a dance in Parque Central welcomes the New Year.

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