From lively cultural carnivals to solemn religious processions, holidays and festivals happen nearly every month in Costa Rica. The year kicks off on January 1st as Costa Ricans celebrate New Year’s Day with fireworks, parades, and parties.
February brings the Virgin of Los Angeles Day honoring the country’s patron saint and Carnival celebrations before Lent. March and April see Holy Week commemorations and honor of national hero Juan Santamaria.
No matter the month, Costa Rica finds diverse reasons to celebrate, whether honoring history, saints, cultural traditions, or simply reveling in the joys of life.
The festive spirit of the Costa Rican people shines in this vibrant array of events including Independence Day in September, the Columbus Day Carnival Limon in October, and a Christmas season that extends into January.
Here is general overview of Costa Rica’s holidays and festivals month by month.
Costa Rica Holidays
- New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo): Costa Ricans ring in the new year with fireworks, parties, and traditional foods such as tamales and arroz con pollo.
- Fiestas de Palmares: This two-week festival in the town of Palmares features parades, concerts, bullfights, and other festivities.
- Puntarenas Carnival: This carnival in the coastal city of Puntarenas features colorful floats, marching bands, and street parties.
- Holy Week (Semana Santa): This week-long religious holiday commemorates the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Costa Ricans typically spend this time with family and friends, attending church services, and participating in traditional processions.
- Juan Santamaría Day (Día de Juan Santamaría): This national holiday celebrates the life of Juan Santamaría, a Costa Rican war hero who died during the Battle of Rivas in 1856.
- Easter (Semana Santa): Costa Ricans celebrate Easter with special church services, family gatherings, and traditional foods such as chiverre squash and empanadas.
- Labor Day (Día del Trabajador): This national holiday celebrates workers’ rights and contributions.
- Día de las Madres (Mother’s Day): Costa Ricans celebrate Mother’s Day with special gifts, meals, and other gestures of appreciation.
- Día de San José (Saint Joseph’s Day): This religious holiday celebrates the life of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of Costa Rica.
- Día del Padre (Father’s Day): Costa Ricans celebrate Father’s Day with special gifts, meals, and other gestures of appreciation.
- Día de Guanacaste (Guanacaste Day): This provincial holiday celebrates the annexation of the province of Guanacaste to Costa Rica in 1824.
- Festival de la Luz (Festival of Lights): This annual festival features a parade of floats illuminated by thousands of lights.
- Día de la Virgen de los Ángeles (Day of the Virgin of the Angels): This religious holiday celebrates the patron saint of Costa Rica.
- Assumption of Mary (Asunción de María): This religious holiday commemorates the assumption of Mary into heaven.
- Independence Day (Día de la Independencia): This national holiday celebrates Costa Rica’s independence from Spain in 1821.
- Día de las Culturas (Day of Cultures): This national holiday celebrates Costa Rica’s diverse cultural heritage.
- Día de las Mascaradas (Day of the Masquerades): This traditional holiday features people wearing masks and costumes to ward off evil spirits.
- All Souls’ Day (Día de los Muertos): This religious holiday commemorates the dead. Costa Ricans typically visit cemeteries and place flowers and candles on the graves of their loved ones.
- Christmas (Navidad): Costa Ricans celebrate Christmas with traditional foods such as tamales, arroz con pollo, and rompope (a sweet egg liqueur). Many families also attend church services and put up Christmas trees and decorations.
Other Holidays and Festivals
In addition to the major holidays listed above, Costa Rica also celebrates a number of other holidays and festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular include:
- Fiestas de Zapote (December-January): This festival in the San José suburb of Zapote features bullfights, concerts, and other festivities.
- Festival de la Luz (December): This annual festival in San José features a parade of floats illuminated by thousands of lights.
- Boyero Day (March): This festival celebrates the work of Costa Rica’s ox and intricately painted oxcarts are on display in Escazu, San Jose
Official Costa Rica Holidays
Here is a list of the official holidays in Costa Rica where most if not all businesses will be closed. So plan accordingly when traveling to Costa Rica for vacation.
- January 1: New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo)
- March/April: Easter Week
- April 11: Juan Santamaría Day (Día de Juan Santamaría)
- May 1: Labour Day (Día del Trabajador)
- July 25: Annexation of Guanacaste Day (Anexión de Guanacaste)
- August 2: Virgin of Los Angeles Day (Día de la Virgen de Los Ángeles)
- August 15: Mother’s Day (Día de la Madre)
- September 15: Independence Day (Día de Independencia)
- October 12: Culture Day (Día de las Culturas)
- December 25: Christmas Day (Día de Navidad)
- December 31: New Year’s Eve (Víspera de Año Nuevo)
The array of holidays and lively events highlight the distinctive regional cultures, religious devotion, national pride, and shared enthusiasm characterizes the spirit of Ticos. The year-round celebrations reinforce cherished traditions while creating new collective memories and experiences.
Whether honoring the past or simply indulging in life’s pleasures, Costa Rica certainly knows how to come together and celebrate in memorable style. If you have the chance to see and participate during any of these times, I am sure it will be an experience you won’t soon forget.