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Holidays and cultural festivals in Costa Rica

Throughout the whole year, there are many cultural festivals celebrated in Costa Rica. In this blog, we want to tell you about the most important ones in every month.

With 57% Roman Catholics and 25% Evangelicals or Protestants, Costa Rica is a very religious country, which is the reason for many religious activities throughout the year. But Ticos also love to celebrate their country, its history, and traditions, which are celebrated with their joy of life and much happiness. It is a great way to experience the culture and the day-to-day life of the Ticos in a very authentic way. For this reason, I want to share the most important holidays and festivities with you, so you can go and see them when you visit this country.


New Year’s Day:

January 1st.

On this day, public institutions are closed.


February & March

There are no holidays or festivities in February or March.



Holy Week:

April 2 - 8, 2023

In April, Semana Santa or Holy Week is celebrated. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday there are many religious activities and ceremonies. To honour the last day of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible, public institutions are closed on Thursday and Friday. On Good Friday, you can see the procession of the crucifixion of Jesus on the streets and the Santo Entierro in the afternoon, where they carry a picture of Jesus and a decorated coffin. The best places to see these traditions are Cartago and Heredia.

Since many institutions are closed, Costa Rican families spent their time together at the beach. If you are travelling during the Holy Week in Costa Rica, you should know that the beaches can very crowded and the hotels booked out, so you should make a reservation in advance. Also, on the streets towards the coast, there is much traffic. On Wednesday 8 the road from the Pacific to San José will be closed and on Saturday and Sunday of the same week, all lines toward the Pacific will be closed to ease the high traffic.

Here you can read more about the Holy Week in Costa Rica:

Holy Week in Costa Rica

Juan Santamaría Day:

April 11

During the confrontations of the Costa Rican army against the American filibuster troops under William Walker who sought to take over Central America, in the battle of Rivas, Nicaragua, on 11 April 1856, soldier Juan Santamaría, a drummer from Alajuela, managed to start the fire that consumed the Mesón de Guerra where the enemies had taken refuge, which contributed to the retreat of the filibusters and the victory of the Costa Ricans. Juan Santamaría lost his life but was declared a national hero decades later.

Every year on April 11, his death is commemorated. Since 1948, Costa Rica doesn’t have an army anymore and the money is being invested in public education instead, which is why the children from the local schools march through the cities with the Costa Rican flag to honour the national hero.

There is also a statue in Alajuela and the museum Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría, as well as the international airport Juan Santamaría was named after him.



Labour Day:

May 1st

Labour day is celebrated in Costa Rica on May 1st, and public institutions are closed. You can see parades and fireworks in some cities.




There are no holidays or festivities in June.



The annexation of Nicoya:

July 25

On September 16, 1821, Nicoya became independent from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Due to its location and the close economic relationship kept with Costa Rica, on July 25, 1824, Nicoya voted to become part of Costa Rica in the city of Nicoya. 

The historical day is celebrated in the whole country, but especially in Guanacaste, you can see parades and people dancing in typical dresses. It is a national holiday.

If you are in the Guanacaste at this time, I recommend you to go and see the dances, as it is a great part to see the culture of Costa Rica!

santa cruz



Virgen de Los Angeles:

August 2

Every year on August 2nd, the Day Virgen de Los Angeles, is celebrated. Virgin was declared Costa Rica’s patron saint in 1824. Every year on this date, thousands of Costa Ricans walk through the whole country to this Basilica. Some of them even walk the last few hundred meters of the pilgrimage on their knees.

Assumption of Mary:

August 15

The belief, that the body of the Virgin Mary was taken to heaven is celebrated by the Catholic church, however, all families celebrate mostly Mother's Day where many have family gatherings to spend time with their respective mothers.



Independence Day (of Costa Rica):

September 15

Since September 15, 1821, Costa Rica is independent of the Spanish Empire, which supported the independence of Costa Rica and other Central American countries like Guatemala and Nicaragua as they had become a burden. For this reason, there has not been a fight for independence. In 1838, Costa Rica became independent from the Central American Republic. To celebrate this day, the whole month of September you can see decorations with the colours of the Costa Rican flag, red, white, and blue. On September 15th, public institutions are closed and a symbolic torch is carried by children from Guatemala to Cartago in Costa Rica. On the night of September 14, there is a lantern parade in each city, where children carry their self-made lanterns with decorations alluding to the homeland on a wooden stick. The children build these lanterns at home or at school. For the next day's Independence Day Parade, school children carry flags and wear typical clothing.




Día de las Mascaradas:

October 31st

While in other countries Halloween is celebrated, on October 31st it is the National Day of the Masquerades in Costa Rica! The masks came originally from Spain. Since then, they became the main spectacle in many communities when they celebrated the saint patron of the town. The Mascarades are parades where people wear those giant masks and dance in them. Barva de Heredia, Escazú and Cartago are the best places to see them.

Here you can read more about the Mascaradas.




There are no holidays or festivities in November. Ticos get prepared for Christmas and start decorating their houses.



Festival de la Luz:

December 12

The Festival de La Luz (Light-festival) is celebrated every year on the second Saturday of December on Paseo Colón in San José. It is a big parade, where wagons are decorated with colourful lights, accompanied by music groups of schools, universities, and local institutions. The groups are selected many months before and this show is transmitted on the main TV channels of the country.


December 25

Christmas is officially celebrated on December 25th, which is also a national holiday. Some people celebrate on December 24th, as they have dinner in the family late at night. Families celebrate quiet together, or with loud music and karaoke. Typical food at Christmas time is Tamales, but also meat, the Queque Navideño and Rompope, a drink based on milk, egg, and liquor.

Here you can read more about Christmas in Costa Rica.



December 26

“Topes” are equestrian parades. On December 26th, the biggest Tope of the country takes place in San José and is open to the public.


Between Christmas Eve and New Year, the Carnivals can be seen on the Avenida Segunda in San José. It is a colourful parade with music and people dancing in costumes of every colour.


The biggest fair takes place in Zapote, San José. There are roller coasters, fair wheels, bull shows, food stands, fireworks, and many more. The fairs usually take place until the first week of January. 

As you can see, there are many parades and colourful and joyful festivities throughout the year, where the Ticos represent and celebrate their country proudly. I invite you to go and see these traditions and experience the country and its people in an authentic way. If you have any questions or need help planning your trip to Costa Rica, feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • Janaina & Dieter, Brazil

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter, Brazil
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

    Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany
  • Carina & Thomas, Germany

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina & Thomas, Germany
  • Yvonne, Switzerland

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne, Switzerland
  • Christina, Switzerland

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

    Christina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

    Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA
  • Janka, The Netherlands

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

    Janka, The Netherlands
  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland
  • Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland
  • Anita, Switzerland

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

    Anita, Switzerland
  • Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland

    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland
  • Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands
  • Dominik, Germany

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

    Dominik, Germany
  • Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany

    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany
  • Alexander & family, Switzerland

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Alexander & family, Switzerland
  • Neumann Family, Germany

    - The route was super planned, first on the beach time to arrive and then only from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was really very, very good!
    - The home stay day was an absolute highlight - very authentic - so we got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived.

    Neumann Family, Germany
  • Marine & Bruno, France

    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno, France
  • Walter, Switzerland

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter, Switzerland
  • Ronald, Germany

    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald, Germany
  • Kathrin, Germany

    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

    Kathrin, Germany
  • Michael, Germany

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael, Germany
  • Evelyne, Switzerland

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

    Evelyne, Switzerland
  • Tanja, Germany

    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

    Tanja, Germany
  • Ines, Germany

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines, Germany
  • Sabine, Germany

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine, Germany
  • Thieme Family, Germany

    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Thieme Family, Germany
  • Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria
  • Katja, Germany

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja, Germany
  • Denise & Alain, Switzerland

    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise & Alain, Switzerland
  • Philippe, Switzerland

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

    Philippe, Switzerland
  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

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