Christmas in Costa Rica: three experiences to have

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Christmas in Costa Rica

Christmas is a big celebration in Costa Rica. While some of the traditions might be quite different to what you’re used to, the people here are passionate about the season and have their very own colorful way of celebrating.

As has happened in many other places, Christmas in Costa Rica is the result of a fusion of native and foreign traditions, which gives it a unique quality. These are the three experiences that you must have in this season.

1. Fiestas de Zapote

In the district of Zapote, just east of San Jose, a whole bullring is built up just for the occasion -it lasts from December 25th to the first week of January. The main game is: a raging bull chases dozens of people who run for their lives. There are also regular bullfights and rodeos, except animals don’t get hurt.

In the surroundings of the ring, you’ll find the chinamos, basically stands where you’ll find food, drinks, music and a dancefloor.

2. Tope Nacional San Jose

A tope is a horse parade, and it is quite a popular thing, you can see them all year round across the country. However, the one that takes place in the capital city is always special, since it is the most spectacular of all and it is always celebrated on December 26th, in the middle of Christmas season.

Riders from all over the central valley participate in the parade, as well as marching bands, clowns and dancers. It draws in huge crowds, which is why, for a few hours, the streets of San Jose turns into one big party.


3. Misa del Gallo

Catholic devotion is a pivotal part of culture in Costa Rica. The traditional Misa del Gallo (literally “Rooster Mass) is had at midnight on the 25th of December, right after families have had dinner and opened their gifts.


Whether at a small church or at the Metropolitan Cathedral, this mass is had all over the nation and it is tradition to attend it.

Honorable mentions

The decorative portales (miniature models of the Nativity scene), the Christmas trees and the eating of tamales are some of the other classic, Costa Rican traditions of the season. Watch out for them as well!

Peek into the country’s culture and have a great time celebrating Christmas in Costa Rica. If you’re planning a trip during this season, be sure to look us up at City Express San Jose, we’re very close to the airport!

Christmas in Costa Rica: three experiences to have