Costa Ricans love to have a good time and celebrate, so no matter when you choose to visit, you're in for a lively time. There's always something happening in this Central American paradise, and if taking a Costa Rica vacation is your New Year's Resolution, you've picked a great time to visit.
Ticos in Alajuela kick off the New Year in style at the Fiestas del Palmares, a huge party held in the city of Palmares. Taking place during the first two weeks of January, this celebration features a wide range of concerts, street performers, local food and fun games. Grand fireworks displays are held throughout the Fiestas del Palmares, and if you're feeling brave, you can try your luck in the festival's rodeo competition. A number of other sporting events are typically held during the event. There are also fairground rides set up throughout the festival, making the Fiestas del Palmares an ideal event for families.
Catholicism is a major part of Costa Rica's national identity, and the Fiesta Patronal de Santo Cristo is held every January to honor Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, or the Black Christ of Esquipulas. This depiction of Jesus hangs in the Basilica of Esquipulas in Guatemala, but the festival is also held in Santa Cruz in the province of Guanacaste. Taking place in mid-January, the Fiesta Patronal de Santo Cristo is an important religious festival, and a traditional ox cart parade is a central part of the event.
To experience a uniquely Costa Rican celebration in January, head to the town of Playas Esterillos near Jaco for the Festival de las Mulas. The main attraction of this event is the mule races that take place on the beach, and riders from all over the country gather on the sand to test their mule-racing skills to the delight of the crowd. Traditional Spanish bullfights are another big draw. The Festival de las Mulas also features live music and a large arts and crafts fair - perfect for finding an authentic souvenir of your trip.
Unlike North America, January in Costa Rica is the height of the dry season, meaning you're in for sunny weather and lots of reasons to celebrate with the locals. No matter where you're planning to visit, a traditional Costa Rican festival is the ideal way to experience the pura vida lifestyle for which Ticos are famous.
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