November and December are key months for Costa Rica festivals and fiestas, starting with All Soul’s Day. Also known as Dia de los Muertos, the Costa Rica festival of All Soul’s Day is celebrated countrywide every November 2nd. Flowers and trips to the cemetery provide the focus for a much more subdued Dia del los Muertos than the street parades and costumes of the similar but noisier Mexican holiday.
The real fiesta action starts in December though, when the following Costa Rica festivals challenge even the most experienced traveler looking for privacy and quiet. On the positive side, most visitors will want to include at least one or two of these colorful Costa Rica festivals in their itinerary.
Check with your travel agent to plan reservations for the following December Costa Rica festivals, or to plan around them for quiet and calm:
Dia de la Polvora on December 8th features big fireworks displays in honor of the Immaculate Conception. Celebrated annually in San Antonio de Belen and Maria de San Mateo, this is a memorable festival. Plan to be there if you love fireworks, or to be somewhere else in Costa Rica that day if you don’t.
Fiesta de los Negritos in the village of Baruca also celebrates the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, the village patron saint. Every year the Baruca Indians dress in colorful costumes, perform traditional dances, and hold a big feast, all in Her honor. A great photo opportunity for new and returning Costa Rica fans, ask your travel agent to schedule this into your itinerary to see some local color.
Fiesta de la Yeguita in Nicoya celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe by parading Her statue through the streets. Traditional dancing, costumes, and feasting complete this cheerful fiesta, which happens every December 12th.
Las Posadas on December 15th is a countrywide celebration during which children go caroling door to door as a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay on the eve of the birth of Jesus. Visitors have no reason to miss this lovely tradition, and they won’t, since it goes on all over Costa Rica on this special day.
El Tope and Carnival take place in the capital city of San Jose on December 26th and 27th respectively. Horses and their riders parade through San Jose streets on the 26th in celebration of the nation’s agricultural heritage. The next day the streets of San Jose fill up with floats, music, dancing, and feasting. A major event in San Jose, these twin festivals are worth experiencing if you plan to be in Costa Rica over the Christmas holidays.
Festejos Populares in San Jose takes place at the Zapote fairgrounds during the last week of December. Bull fights, carnival rides, gambling booths, and food stands make this lively Costa Rica festival a popular one. Similar to an American county fair, Festejos Populares is a fun family event that doesn’t clog the streets of San Jose or make hotels inaccessible. Plan to attend if you are in town.