Festivals and events

Bank holidays are cause for celebration everywhere and Costa Rica is no different. On national holidays, banks, government offices and stores close down so make sure you have enough money. National holidays are listed here, regional and local festivals are listed in the relevant chapter. Large festivals tend to go big on processions, costumes and traditional marching bands, but find a small town and you'll get horse racing, bull-friendly bull fighting (where the lucky beast leaves the ring exhausted but alive) and a chance to rub shoulders with the townsfolk at a more intimate gathering.

The main holiday period is Christmas and New Year, and Easter week, when much of San José decants from the highlands to the beaches. Book accommodation well in advance at this time of year.


On the second Sunday in march, it's
 National Oxcart Day
with colourful processions and music in Escazú.


The 11 April is
 Juan Santamaría Day
, celebrating the victorious Battle of Rivas against William Walker in 1856.


Labour Day
, on 1 May, apparently heralds the President's State of the Nation address, cricket matches and a day off.


The 25th July is the Annexation of Guanacaste
celebrating Guanacaste's decision to stay with Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua in 1824.


The Virgin Mary Queen of Angels
, Patron of Costa Rica is celebrated on 2 August with religious pilgrimages to the Basilica in Cartago. 15 August is the
Day of the Virgin Mary's Assumption to Heaven
Mother's Day


Independence Day
, on 15 September, with parades and marching bands through the streets of San José.


Spanish discovery of the New World
, 12 October, celebrated with particular energy and flair in Limón and the Caribbean.


All Souls' Day
, 2 November, the Day of the Dead,
showing respect to those who have passed on.


Christmas celebrations build before and continue in the week after, particularly in San José but also on a smaller scale throughout much of the country. On 31 December and 1 and 2 January,
 La Danza de los Diablitos
, a festival with traditional masks, costumes, music and dancing in the Indian village of Boruca.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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