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San Jose Events

Día del Boyero

Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Costa Rican culture is the carreta (ox cart), used for ploughing, transportation, and in this case, parades. The hand-hewn wooden carts with their oversized wheels are traditionally painted with colourful mandalas and other elaborate patterns. Every March, scores ox carts, some of them painted to perfection and others purely utilitarian, make their annual agrarian pilgrimage to the city of Escazú.

Date: 01 March 2017 - 15 March 2017
Venue: Escazú, 7km (4mi) from San José.
Cost:

Free


National Orchid Show

Costa Rica, with its high tropical mountains and cloud forest-capped volcanoes, is a haven for orchids; more than 1,400 different species grow wild. There are several botanical gardens you can visit year-round, but the annual National Orchid Show, held in downtown San José, displays the best of the best.

Date: 01 March 2017 - 31 March 2017
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Plaza de la Democracia.

Diá de San José

Enjoy celebrations across San José in honour of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of the city. Fairs, Catholic masses and Costa Rican-style bullfights are all part of the action.

Date: 19 March 2017 - 19 March 2017
Venue: Citywide.

El Festival Internacional de las Artes

Every other year, downtown San José becomes a showcase for more than 5,000 artists from some 20 different countries, who congregate for the International Festival of the Arts. They transform the capital into an enormous open-air gallery for wild installation art pieces, dramatic theatre, folkloric dance, surrealist parades, and much more. Major performance, usually held at Teatro Melico Salazar, sometimes charge admission; be sure to get tickets in advance.

Date: 29 June 2017 - 09 July 2017
Venue: Various venues.
Website: http://www.festivaldelasartes.go.cr

Día de la Independencia

The entire isthmus celebrates Central American Independence on September 15, declared in 1821 by the Colonial capital in Antigua, Guatemala. The sleepy, agricultural backwater of Cartago, then the Costa Rican capital, didn't get the news until a month later. Regardless, San José celebrates independence in style, beginning with the arrival of Freedom Torch on the evening of 14 September, and continuing with parades, live music, and lots of fireworks for the next 24 hours.

Date: 15 September 2017 - 15 September 2017

Fiesta de las Carretas

This relaxed little festival seems designed to remind increasingly urban San José of its humble, agricultural roots. Every November, traditional ox carts, or carretas, make their way slowly past the high-rise hotels and traffic lights to Parque La Sabana. There, the boyeros (oxcart drivers) are greeted with food stands, live music, and religious ceremonies. Afterward, the carretas line up for a parade along usually traffic-packed Paseo Colón.

Date: 01 November 2017 - 30 November 2017
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Parque La Sabana.

La Ruta del los Conquistadores

Costa Rica's most important mountain bike race takes on the tough and often volcanic mountains of the Central Valley, following the bitterly difficult route of the original Spanish Conquistadors between the Pacific and Caribbean. The race takes four days, but festivities in the city of Atenas go on all week, geared to celebrating the Spanish settlers who finally made it in this challenging environment.

Date: 01 November 2017 - 30 November 2017
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Atenas.
Website: http://www.adventurerace.com
Cost:

Free to spectate.


Festival de Luz

The capital's famed Christmas parade. San José's festival of lights is marked by lighting displays and concerts and fireworks after dark in the park.

Date: 01 December 2017 - 30 December 2017
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Paseo Colón.
Website: http://www.festivaldelaluz.cr
Cost:

Free


Las Fiestas de Zapote

This pleasant working-class neighbourhood puts on the capital's favourite urban fiestas, most famous for their endless topes (horse parades), which bring out the finest steeds in the Central Valley. Las Fiestas are also known for Costa Rican-style "bull fights," where bulls aren't killed, but rather allowed to run with locals brave enough to try to touch the beast – sometimes getting hurt in the process. Zapote also brings in top international performers, many from Mexico.

Date: 24 December 2017 - 10 January 2018
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Zapote.
Cost:

Free.


Festival Palmares

Costa Rica's biggest civic festival takes place every January in the city of Palmaras, about an hour west of San José. Just every Costa Rican who can swing it tries to attend, and special buses advertised all over the capital make transportation a snap. The party goes all night, as the usually quiet town erupts into temporary bars and discos, carnival games, rickety rides, horse parade, rodeos, live music, and much more.

Date: 01 January 2018 - 14 January 2018
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Palmares.
Website: http://www.fiestaspalmares.com