Monday, October 12, 2009

Costa Rica Festival Calendar

Thank you to Adventure Costa Rica, specialising in Costa Rican Vacation Packages for this excellent article. They can be contacted on info@adventureincostarica.com

Festivals are a vital part of any culture, and provide insight to the country you are visiting as few other activities will. This guide to Costa Rica festivals will guide you if you wish to plan your visit around festivals in Costa Rica or if you wish to know if there’s a festival going on while you’re here. From the Fiestas de Palmares in Costa Rica to the Limon Carnival and many Costa Rica fiestas in between, take advantage and view the cultural festivities of Costa Rica throughout the year. Festivals comprise a wide range of activities that fall under that one name. From religious celebrations for Catholic Saints, carnivals, topes and fiestas to artistic and musical international events, there’s plenty to be excited about.

January is the month for the Palmares fiestas for the first two weeks of the year. Dancing, concerts, carnival, tope (horse parade), music and tico style bull-fighting. Tico style bull fighting doesn’t injure the animal: what it consists of is a bunch of daredevil ticos attempting to touch the bull as it runs around the ring, armed with nothing but the clothes on their back and a bandanna. The Fiestas de Alajuelita are also in January, the week of January 15th. An ox-cart parade to honor the “Santo Cristo de Esquipulas”, a turno (food, arcade games and music) with a religious procession to the top of the mountain, where the big metallic Alajuelita cross shines above San Jose. This patron saint is also honored in Santa Cruz of Guanacaste with bull fights, dances and marimba music. The Copa del Café is an international tennis tournament for players under 18 years of age, and takes place for a week of this month.

February is known for the Fiesta de los Diablitos in the indigenous village of Boruca in Rey Curre. This festival revolves around a dance dating back to the conquest of Spaniards to America, and you’ll be able to participate in this tribal dance which reconstructs the struggle between the indigenous tribes (the diablitos, or devils) and the Spaniards, represented by a bull. San Isidro del General also hosts its festivities with cattle shows, bullfights and flower expositions. The last week is for the Puntarenas Carnivals: music, dances, games, food and more under the sunny Puntarenas sky.

March and April are varied as well. March is for the Oxcart parade. The second Sunday in March in San Antonio de Escazu you’ll see colorful handpainted oxcarts roll out on the street. This artistic world patrimony is honored with blessings by the parish priests over the competitions, the oxcarts and the produce they help carry. San Jose is also celebrated on March 19th, and in smaller locations with the same name. Orchid expositions and the Ujarras procession to the oldest church in Costa Rica are also highlights of this month. Easter or Holy week takes place in either of these months, and most Ticos will flock to the beaches and parks, celebrating the holidays. Processions throughout the country and most of the businesses and stores close on Thursday and Friday. Juan Santamaría day is on April 11th. He is a national hero used to showcase the power of the humble Costa Rican peasant against the imperialist power, represented by a young boy who dared to burn down the house where Filibuster William Walker was hiding. Parades throughout the city with student bands and music.

May June and July have calmer celebrations such as the Día del Trabajo or work day on May 1st. If you are in Limón, cricket games, domino and dances will entertain you. On May 15th San Isidro Labrador is celebrated with blessings over fields, animals and harvests. The San Juan race takes place on May 17th, a 22.5 Km marathon. July heats up with the celebration for the Virgin of the Ocean, (Virgen del Mar) on the Saturday closest to the 16th. Decorated boats and dingies flock the gulf of Nicoya in this colorful celebration. July 25th is for the Anexion de Nicoya day, when Nicoya, an independent land, decided to join itself to Costa Rica. In Alajuela, enjoy the delicious Mango at the mango festival.

August is the month for Santo Domingo de Heredia, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Costa Rica, dating back to the colony. August 2nd is the day of the Patron Saint of Costa Rica with a religious pilgrimage to the Cartago Basilica. San Ramon day takes place on August 30th with parades from many different towns towards San Ramon, where images of 30 different saints from different locations will meet. September is the Independence day for Costa Rica and several other countries in Central America. A torch is brought running from Nicaragua by school children in relays, arriving at 6 pm, time when all ticos stop and sing the National Anthem, representing the arrival of the news of Independence. The night before there is a light parade by schoolchildren holding lanterns and singing songs.

October and November, is when Costa Rica is at its rainiest, but the Caribbean Coast has its mini dry season, so the Limon Carnivals take place on October 12th. Corn festivals in Upala and Tres Rios de la Union also take place on this auspicious date. November 2nd is all saints day, mandatory visit to cementeries all around the country, and the International Arts Festival starts in San Jose with street theatre, dance, music and many cultural activities for all ages. December is the Fiesta de los Negritos on the week of December 8th. In the indigenous village of Boruca, an ancient ritual is combined with honors to the virgin of the Immaculate Conception with music, inspiring costumes and dances. On December 25th, the Zapote fiestas begin and mark the end of the year with amusement park rides, food, drinks and Costa Rican bullfights, as well as the Tope, the Carnival and much more. Enjoy Costa Rica through its festivals, and learn about culture in a fun and entertaining way.

Carnaval in Limón Limón’s pleasant Caribbean-ramshackle appearance will be tranformed this October when the essence of the province’s unique culture is boiled down into ten days of history, culture and celebration during Costa Rica’s largest Carnaval. Limón’s pleasant Caribbean-ramshackle appearance will be tranformed this October when the essence of the province’s unique culture is boiled down into ten days of history, culture and celebration during Costa Rica’s largest Carnaval. During Carnaval, throngs of revelers mix with the curious and line the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of brightly attired comparsas, which are colorful, coordinated dance troupes specializing in Brazilian samba and other tropical rhythms. The penetrating percussive rhythms and daring dances are all Limón: colorful, sultry, flamboyant. The late Alfred King first brought Carnaval to Costa Rica in 1949, starting with a couple of friends and a common idea. The celebration became a symbol of unity in Costa Rica, where relations were at times strained between the mainly black peoples of Limón and the chiefly Spanish descendants in San José. Today, King’s small celebration has become one of Central America’s most recognized civic parties. While most Latin American countries celebrate October 12 as Columbus Day or Day of America’s Discovery, Costa Rica celebrates not Europe’s arrival in the New World but rather “Day of the Cultures.” The Tico version of the holiday recognizes the contributions of the many different peoples who have contributed to Costa Rica’s varied culture today.

What is it: Limón’s Carnaval in celebration of Culture Day When: Friday, October 7th through Sunday, October 16th How to get there: From San José, take Highway 32 towards Limón. Carnaval takes place throughout downtown. If you go: Make reservations at hotels near Limón, Cahuita, or Puerto Viejo early and be ready to join the party.

Carnivals, parades and festivals Calendar

JANUARY
Palmares Civic Fiestas - first two weeks of January
Folk dances, carnival, music, rides, and bullfighting.
Alajuelita Fiestas - week of January 15
Honors the Black Christ of Esquipulas, Alajuelita's Patron Saint, with ox-cart parade, procession to huge iron cross on the mountain and more.
Santa Cruz Fiestas - week of January 15
Folk dancing, marimbas and bullfighting.
Copa del Cafe - Middle of January
Week-long tennis tournament held at the Costa Rican Country Club (San Jose) - international participants are under age 18.

FEBRUARY
San Isidro del General Fiestas - First week of February
Cattle Exhibit, agricultural and industrial fairs, bullfights and flower exhibition.
Fiesta of the Diablitos - late February.
South of San Isidro del General in Boruca Indian Village of Rey Curre, it's a recreation of the fight between Indians (diablitos) and the Spanish (a bull), where colorful wooden masks and costumes create the scene, dances, fireworks. Sale of crafts and the Fair of National and Imported Products.
Puntarenas Carnival - Last week of February
Week-long fun in the sun.

MARCH
San Jose -
Cattle Show with bullfights, rodeo and horse races.
Escazu - Dia de los Boyeros (Oxcart Driver's Day)- Second Sunday of March
In San Antonio de Escazu, don't miss the colorful parade of oxcarts, competitions and the blessing of the animals and crops by local priests.
Bring your camera.
National Orchid Show - Mid-March.
over 500 local and foreign species and hybrids are on display.
Saint Joseph's (San Jose) Day - March 19
Religious celebration in all the neighborhoods with that name, with fairs and special Masses.
Ujarras - Middle of march
A religious procession from Cartago to ruins of first church in Costa Rica.

APRIL
Holy Week - March or April
Huge processions in all parts of country during Easter week. San Jose virtually shuts down Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.
Juan Santamaría Day - April 11
Commemorates Costa Rica's national hero, the barefoot soldier who gave his life in the battle against William Walker's troops in 1856. Week-long celebrations with marching bands, parades, concerts, and dances.

MAY
Labor Day - May 1
marches, President gives annual "state of the union" address to Congress, election of Congressmen.
Puerto Limon - May 1
picnics, dances, crickets matches and dominoes.
Escazu - San Isidro Labrador's Day - May 15
In San Isidro all over the country, celebrations honor the Patron Saint of farmers and farm animals with blessings of animals and crops, parades and fairs.
Carrera de San Juan - May 17
San Juan Day, the biggest marathon of year, with runners covering tough 22.5 km. course.
Corpus Christi Day - May 29
Religious celebration.

JUNE
Saints Peter & Paul Day - June 29
Religious celebration

JULY
Puntarenas - Virgin of The Sea - Saturday closest to July 16
Celebrations include colorful regatta of decorated fishing boats and yachts in the Nicoya golf, carrying Puntarenas' Patron Saint, La Virgen del Monte Carmelo. Special Masses, parades, concerts dances, sports events, fireworks.
Guanacaste Day - July 25
Celebrates the annexation of the "Partido de Nicoya" in 1824, known today as the province of Guanacaste, with fiestas, folk dances, topes, cattle shows, bullfights, and concerts.
Alajuela - Los Mangos Festival, parades, music, craft fairs.

AUGUST
Cartago - Virgin of Los Angeles - August 2
Honors Costa Rica's Patron Saint , "La Negrita" with nationwide pilgrimage and religious processions to the Basilica in Cartago.
San Ramon - San Ramon Day - August 30
A religious procession of 30 Saints from neighboring towns come to visit the Patron Saint, who lives in the town of the same name - San Ramon goes dancing through the streets, and locals love the parades and fun.

SEPTEMBER
Costa Rica's Independence Day (and the rest of Central America's) - Sept. 15
The Freedom Torch is brought from Nicaragua by student relay runners the day before, arriving in Cartago with Costa Rican relay teams at 6 p.m. on the 15th,
when everyone country-wide stops what they're doing and sings the National Anthem. Kids in every town have "lantern parades" where they carry their home-made "faroles". Parades, marching bands, parties, and celebrations.

OCTOBER
San Isidro del General - October 9
Celebrates anniversary of San Isidro's founding.
Puerto Limon - Limon Carnival - October 12
Columbus Day is celebrated in style in the port city with week-long street dances, parades, concerts - it's "Mardi Gras" to a Caribbean beat.
Upala
Corn Festival, Corn Queen contest.
Tres Rios
Virgen del Pilar's Day - Oct. 12
Fair in Tres Rios celebrating their Patron Saint with parade and costumes made entirely of corn husks, grain, and silks.

NOVEMBER
All Souls day - Nov 2
Day of the dead is observed with family visits to cemeteries to put flowers on loved ones' graves.
Central Valley
Coffee picking contest, music and dancing
San Jose
International Arts Festival, plays, street theater and other entertainment.

DECEMBER
Boruca
Fiesta de los Negritos - week of Dec. 8
Held in the Indian village of Boruca, and ancient Indian ritual is combined with honoring the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception - extravagant costumes, music of drum and flute, dance.
Nationwide
Immaculate Conception - Dec 8
Fireworks
Nicoya
Fiesta de la Yeguita (Little Mare)- Dec 12
Processions, bullfights, fireworks, concerts.
Zapote (San Jose)
Festejos Populares (Year-end Festivals) - Dec 25-31
The fairground is transformed into amusement park with tons of rides and food, bullfights, fireworks.
San Jose
Tope - Dec. 26
The horse parade to end all horse parades is held downtown San Jose.
San Jose
Carnival - Dec 27

Once again, downtown San Jose is the scene of a huge wonderful parade with incredible floats and music.
Nationwide Christmas Celebrations - Begin early in December
With homes and businesses putting up "Portales" (Nativity Scenes) which are always unique. Competition for best Portal runs through Dec. 22. Season's foods include coconut "melcochas" (candy), "chicha" (heady brew from corn), tamales, "rompope" (egg-nog), imported apples and grapes. Las Posadas begin December 15 - carolers go from house to house and are treated to refreshments. At midnight Dec 24, Catholic Churches celebrate the Misa de Gallo (literally, Mass of the Rooster).


Thank you to Adventure Costa Rica, specialising in Costa Rican Vacation Packages for this excellent article. They can be contacted on info@adventureincostarica.com

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