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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 11/13/2022

Festivals & Fairs in Costa Rica

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

Throughout the year, there are a number of fairs, festivals and concerts around the country of Costa Rica, but depending on the time of year you are here, be sure to check out the following festivals that happen every year!

Fiestas Palmares  

Every year in January, Costa Ricans descend on the town of Palmares in the south of the province of Alajuela.  The festival is famous for its "tope," which is a parade of horses and all things country western, its concerts and its beer drinking.  They get some pretty big names to come for the concerts; I saw Calle 13 a few years ago!  There are also carnival rides and stands to buy food.  You can take a public bus from San Jose to get there, but people tend to get a group of friends and family together to rent a van and a driver (Safety first, people!), and tour companies even put packages together.  Don't miss this one!


Also in January is the festival in Carrizal, which is a small town in the mountains between Barva and Poas Volcano. Similar to the festival in Palmares, they have carnival rides and food stands in addition to concerts, dances and bull riding. My favorite day to go is to see the "carnaval" with the Caribbean flare of Costa Rica, so check the calendar. To get to Carrizal, you can take a bus from Heredia or even hop on in front of the church in Barva. 


Every February, thousands of locals and international travelers take over the Pacific coastal town of Uvita to take part in the Envision Festival.  Envision is a celebration dedicated to providing a platform for different cultures to co-exist in a sustainable community and to inspire through art, spirituality, yoga, music, education, and a connection with nature. You have to purchase tickets and hostels and hotels fill up quickly, so start planning now!

Carnavales de Puntarenas  

Like the famous Carnival in Brazil, Puntarenas hosts the biggest carnival in Costa Rica before the Christian season of Lent starts every year.  Enjoy the music, dancers, bands, costumes and masks during the parade, and don't miss the beauty contest and sports competitions!

Dia Nacional del Boyero 

The Costa Rican tradition of using oxcarts to transport goods is celebrated with a parade of colorfully and elaborately painted carts pulled by oxen on the second Sunday in March in San Antonio de Escazu.  Many craft and food vendors are also present in the festival, so enjoy the summer sun and check out this unique Costa Rican festival.

Festival de las Artes (FIA)  

The Festival de las Artes is a government-sponsored program designed to promote and develop local art and the diversity of the arts and the artists.  Each year in July, the program packs 11 days with art, music, theatre, literature and cinema to fill San Jose with culture, happiness and color.  Lots of the displays and events are in public venues and are free!

Barva Festival  

Every August, we get front row seats to the festival here in Barva-Heredia.  The town celebrates two weeks of festivities revolving around the patron saint, Bartholomew. The festival is known for its mask festival. The town's teenagers and young adults wear masks, carry water-filled pig or cow bladders and follow a small, traditional band around the streets of downtown Barva. If you would rather not be hit by a foul bladder, we recommend standing behind the fence on the church's property. Barva is a ten-minute bus ride from downtown Heredia.

Carnavales de Limon  

Every October, Costa Rica celebrates the Dia del Encuentro de Culturas and its Afro-Caribbean culture with parades, calypso music, colorful and elaborate costumes, dancing, concerts, and delicious food like coconut-flavored rice and beans (known locally as "rice and beans"), fried green plantains (patacones), and jerk chicken.  Puerto Limon is the main port of the Costa Rica's Caribbean coast and can easily be reached by public bus from San Jose.

Festival de la Luz  

Normally the second Saturday in December, the best marching bands of Costa Rica and some fun floats take over the streets of San Jose in the evening for the Festival de la Luz.  It's a fun way to start the Christmas season, but get there early because people start making camp on the sidewalks in the morning! 

Tope Nacional/National Horse Parade  

Yes, there are a number of "topes" in Costa Rica throughout the year, but you can't miss the Tope Nacional in San Jose on December 26.  "Topar" is the Spanish verb to round up the cattle, and the events are full of great pride for Costa Rica's cowboy and rancher culture.  Many of the horses and riders display great style and elegance, and the spectators line the streets in their best cowboy garb. 

Fiestas de Zapote  

Depending on the year's calendar, the Fiestas de Zapote start on or near December 25th and end around January 1st. Costa Ricans love to indulge in this celebratory time of year by spending at least one day in Zapote and by watching the festivities on TV.  Zapote also features the normal fairgrounds and concerts, but it is famous for the daily bull fights. Have no fear, these are not the bull fights from Spain or Mexico that come to mind; although the bulls are taunted, they are not physically harmed.  From downtown San Jose, you can take a public bus or a taxi to Zapote, which is southeast of the city.

Yes, we know you came to Costa Rica for the wildlife and beaches, but don't forget to experience the culture by taking in some of these festivals during your time here!  And if you haven't yet registered for one of our 4-week, onsite TEFL coursescontact us today!  

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