You are here: Home > About CR > People, Culture & Religion > Culture > Holidays

Holidays in Costa Rica

When considering a visit to Costa Rica, something important to take into consideration are the national holidays. It would be a shame to come when everything is closed. As mentioned before “Ticos” are rather religious people so most of their holidays are church related. For example, if plans include coming to visit the country during Holy Week, it is important to know that most of the countries offices, banks, courts, government offices, and many stores will be closed, and locals head for the beach and mountain spots to relax for an entire week. These mass migrations to the beach spots make finding a hotel very difficult and many times the rental car places will not have even a single car. This also happens during Christmas/New Year’s so plan ahead. These times of the year are also on record as the most expensive times to visit Costa Rica.


As a recommendation during these seasons, it is better to avoid popular beaches because they will be very crowded and also car rentals and hotels are booked weeks in advances because this is “Ticos” opportunity to chill and relax around the country and take advantage of this “break” at the beginning of the year. Holiday related days off are called “feriados.”

A list of major national holidays year round and a brief description: 
(if there is an "*" then the major establishments are closed on that day) 

January 1st: New Year’s Day.* is celebrated outside San José, and the ones that decide to stay at home meet their families or go out to bars and wait together for the New Year to come. This is also celebrated with a big dance in San Jose's Parque Central.

February 14th: San Valentine's Day. is celebrated all around the world "Ticos" celebrate “El die Del Amor y la Amistad” (love and friendship day) taking their partners to dinner, sending flowers or exchanging chocolates or cards.

2nd Week of March: Día de los Boyeros. is celebrated on the second Sunday in March. It is a parade of colorful handmade and painted oxcarts that also include driving competitions surrounded by dancing, food and traditional costumes in San Antonio de Escazú.

March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day. St. Joseph was the patron saint of San Jose and the San Jose Province.

Between March and April Easter Holy Week, Semana Santa*: Dates change annually but businesses often close from Holy Thursday to Sunday. Most Catholic Churches will made religious processions in which they re-create dramatizations of Jesus' final days before being crucified. It’s important to mention that all alcohol sales are prohibited from Thursday to Sunday and many businesses extend the holiday to the entire week.

April 11th: Juan Santamaria Day.* commemorates Costa Rica’s national hero who fought at the battle of Rivas against the American invader, William Walker, in 1856. The International Airport is named after him.

May 1st: Labor Day. Dia de los Trabajadores.* is the same as Labor Day in North America and every public and private sector employee has the day off.

July 25th: Guanacaste Day. is celebrated for the annexation of Guanacaste from Nicaragua in 1824. Highlights usually include bullfights, rodeos, dancing, topes, and other parades and parties all around the province.

August 2nd: Virgin de Los Angeles Day.* in honor of the Patron saint of Costa Rica, the Virgin of Los Angeles. This day the faithful Catholic masses make a  a religious procession from wherever they live to Cartago’s La Basilica de Cartago to honor “La Negrita.” Pilgrims come from all over the country, mostly on foot (so many major roads are closed) to celebrate all together, drink holy water and cure their ailments. Over a million people attend. Once they reach the stairs of the church, they enter praying on their knees to the altar.

August 15th: Mother’s Day.* is surprisingly a major national holiday where all the locals have off work to go and be with their mothers. This is not just an invented Hallmark occasion; the Ticos take this day very seriously.  

September 15th: Independence Day.* big patriotic parades celebrate Costa Rica’s independence from Spain in 1821. Everything is closed including some streets. High school bands commemorate marching and playing national songs, and the country is decorated with blue, red, and white hand-made crafts, little flags and “faroles” (kind of paper lanterns lighted with candles). It is a day of large community celebrations. The day culminates with the arrival of the Freedom Torch in Cartago (delivered from Nicaragua by relay runners) when everyone in the country stops and simultaneously sings the national anthem. Children later enjoy faroles parades where they carry small lanterns through their towns.

October 12th: Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day).* is more a day off than a huge celebration. Limon is the only province that celebrates this day in the week prior to the 12th with a colorful carnival full of dances and cultural demonstrations on the Atlantic side of the country.

October 31st: Halloween. although this is not an original Costa Rican holiday, it is becoming more and more popular among young people and is being celebrated in a big way in many bars with some costume parties even offering a prize of $5000 for the best costume.

November 2nd: All Soul’s Day. People visit cemeteries to leave flowers to loved ones who have passed away.

Late November: US Thanksgiving.

December 8th: Immaculate Conception of the Virgin.

One week before Christmas: Festival de la Luz: celebrated in San José. It is marked by lighting displays, concerts and fireworks after dark in the park and closes with a colorful parade in which every public and a private institution is closed.

December 24th: Christmas Eve: not all establishments are closed, many places have special shortened schedules. At midnight, many masses in the churches begin to celebrate the birth of Christ.

December 25th: Christmas Day.* is a family oriented holiday that includes beach trips and also many family meeting to exchange gifts. Tamales are the traditional meal for this season with grapes, apples and pears consumed during this season.

Other parties or celebrations around Christmas to New Years and into January include:

Fiestas de Zapote: are usually only popular for residents of San Jose towards the end of December. These parties are located at a variety of bars, live music, bullfights (more like playing with the bulls) with rides and mechanical games.

Fiestas de Palmares: usually sometime in January and is the biggest party of the year. Although it is similar to the Zapote Fiestas, it is bigger and more organized and always draws a huge crowd. Over 1 million of Costa Rica’s 4 million attend. These parties include a located at a variety of bars, live music with international singers, bullfights, carnival with rides and mechanical games.

Tope at Palmares: a day time horse parade that displays the equine traditions and unique horse breed where the horses seem to be dancing. Many of the horses are decorated and all are mounted by professionals or super models.

Fiesta Santa Cruz: takes place the second week in January with bullfights and a parade followed by celebrations that include food, concerts and fireworks.

Carnival and Festival del Mar: is a week of local celebrations in Puntarenas and Quepos with sporting events, dancing, and street carnivals and fairs.

Document Actions

Powered by Propertyshelf

Legal Information