Costa Rica Celebrations

What are the Major Costa Rica Celebrations?

True to the Spanish origins of much of their cultural heritage, the Costa Ricans are able to put on as good a show as many of the other Hispanic countries, both in the New and Old Worlds. Brilliant costumes, vigorous dancing, horseback riding, bulls, and oxcarts are all to be found in various Costa Rica celebrations, which provide a flavorful punctuation to the quieter pleasures of ecotourism. Color, excitement, and local cultural panache abound at all of these events.

There are numerous smaller events throughout the year, including both horse shows and bullfighting, held in many locations around the country. The Central and South American countries have a history of excellent horsemanship that stretches back to the days of Cortes and Coronado, and this tradition lives on in the spectacular displays of horseflesh and fancy riding you can enjoy at these many small events.

Bullfighting is present in Costa Rica celebrations, as in all of the countries that once answered to the Spanish crown, but takes an interesting quirk in that the bull is not killed. Instead, daring youths enter the ring and attempt to rush up and touch the irritable animal. The proceedings continue until the bull is enraged enough to drive all his “opponents” from the enclosure. Be warned that although the proceedings are carried on in a spirit of fun, the bull does occasionally gore or trample a participant to death.

What are the Boyeros Parades in Costa Rica Celebrations?

The rightfully most famous event in the calendar of Costa Rica celebrations is the Boyeros parade. This parade features hundreds of hand painted ox-carts, or boyeros, which are decked out as brilliantly – not to say gaudily – as an Easter egg. Gleaming scarlet, green, blue, yellow, and white geometric patterns cover each of these large, solid-wheeled carts entirely, making an extraordinarily festive display that will make an excellent photographic souvenir of Costa Rica as well.

Three of the major Costa Rica celebrations involving boyeros take place in San Antonio de Escazu at a variable date in late spring, and in San Jose in November and December. The third is part of the Christmas celebration, which is carried out with verve in this largely Catholic country. The excitement of a competition is added to the affair by the fact that the best painted oxcart will win a prize for its owner.

The oxcarts were originally used for transporting coffee beans along the narrow, precipitous roads of Costa Rica to the ports from which they would be shipped out of the country. They are still mostly owned by farmers of the district, though they have come to be national symbols as much as practical vehicles.

What Other Costa Rica Celebrations Exist?

There are many other colorful, local celebrations in Costa Rica, but one that is worth mentioning is the Limon Carnaval, a festival of extravagant costumes, dancing, and fun which is held annually in Limon. This celebration is similar to other “carnevale” events throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and is echoed to some extent in the American Mardi Gras event as well.

The Limon Carnaval features people in fantastic, highly colored costumes at all times of the day, but the serious celebrations get underway at nightfall, when the glitter of lights and colors through the dark provides the spark of magic necessary for a truly celebratory mood. Music of a Spanish or Caribbean nature, costumes, dancing in the streets, and plenty of spicy, tasty food sold at booths are the hallmarks of this festival.