Holidays and Celebrations

Holidays and Celebrations


While New Year is celebrated with great enthusiam and lots of alcohol, New Year’s Day is way quieter.



The 14th is celebrated as a traditional Valentine’s Day but also as a day of friendship.


Turtle season begins!  The start of Leatherback laying on the Caribbean coast which extends until July.


Easter week is the busiest week of the year for tourist areas as Central Valley inhabitants flock to the beach for what is traditionally the last dry vacation opportunity before Green Season.  If you can plan your vacation to avoid these dates, it’s a good idea, as it’s also the most expensive week of the year (along with Xmas and New Year.)

Easter dates:

20-27 March 2016

9-16 April 2017 2017

March 16-1 April 2018

14-21 April 2019

5-12 April 2020

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Labor Day is celebrated on May 1st as it is in many countries worldwide. It’s best to avoid driving through the capital as Labor Day is frequently an occasion for peaceful protests and demonstrations by unions.

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Fathers’ Day is celebrated although without as much enthusiasm as Mothers’ Day.

walter ferguson la nacion


The first two weeks of July are Cahuita’s own cultural event — the Walter Ferguson Calypso Festival.  Started in 2014, the Festival brings together Calypso and other musicians from Central America and the Caribbean for a celebration in honor of Cahuita’s favorite resident.  Live music is organized on stages erected in the town for the occasion and all performances are free — just buy your own beer!

Credit to La Nacion for the image


The 14th is Lantern Night begins at dusk when schoolchildren gather with their homemade lanterns on the eve of Independence Day to recreate the scene when Costa Ricans welcomed the messenger bringing news from Guatemala of the region’s independence from Spanish colonial rule.

In Cahuita, the schools congregate in the Alfredo Gonzalez Flores Park for cultural presentations and hymns before switching on the lantern lights and walking through town. The route is to the White Sand Mall, back down into town past the bus terminal exit and then returning to the Alfredo Gonzalez Flores Park.

The 15th is Independence Day is celebrated with schoolchildren parading through the streets in uniform or national dress with marching bands. In Cahuita, get to the Alfredo Gonzalez Flores Park in the center early to enjoy the singing and cultural presentations, such as typical dances, before the parade begins. The schools march from the Alfredo Gonzalez Flores Park to the White Sand Mall on the paved road and then back down into town past the exit for the buses from the terminal. Each band will stop at the crossroads between Cocos and Ricky’s for their grand finale of drumming before ending their performance. The whole town comes out to watch and there is a warm atmosphere as Costa Ricans proudly celebrate their independence from Spain.

Hawksbill Turtles begin this month and continue into the next.



The Day of the Virgin of Los Angeles is observed across the country by Catholics on the 2nd.  Many believers will make the pilgrimage to Cartago to honor the saint on her day and to thank her for her blessings. The very devout will complete the journey on their knees.

Mothers’ Day is held on the 15th (also the Assumption of Mary in the Catholic Church) and isn’t a Hallmark moment but a celebrated national holiday for all those hardworking mamas. Expect special menus in restaurants.

Afro-Caribbean Day is a celebration of the country’s Afro-Caribbean roots with recognition in schools and in cultural events, especially in the province of Limon on the last day of the month.

Drummer boy, Limon Carnival


The 12th is Culture Day and not Columbus Day, so join in with celebrations of the different roots of Costa Ricans and forget about the Spanish Conquistadors! Schools enjoy this day but it isn’t a national holiday.

This is also the traditional starting date of the Limon Carnival. It was canceled in 2015 due to questions of funding but has been running since the 1970s and so it is hoped to be revived for 2016.



Beginning at the end of October and finishing at the start of November, the Chocolate Festival held in Puerto Viejo is a must for those with a sweet tooth.  First organized in 2011 to bring caoca farmers and producers of the region together, it is also a chance to taste the substance revered by the Mayans and Aztecs in Central America’s Pre-Columbian era.



Christmas is a family occasion which is often celebrated on the 24th with tamales or the slaughter and cooking of a pig fattened all year for Christmas.  The evening and night are partytime and the center will be full of seasonal revellers.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated as is it world over with fireworks and parties.  Many Ticos will spend the early part of the night with family and so the bars fill up later than you might expect.

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