Costa Rica 2021 Public Holidays & Special Events
In July, 2020, President Carlos Alvarado signed Law 9875, transferring all Holidays that fell on weekends to Mondays. The move is aimed at promoting support for Costa Rica’s Tourism sector, which declined during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the restrictions placed on travel. The President plans to maximize support for the industry by increasing ‘domestic tourism’ in the Country.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic visitors to Costa Rica are advised to check the regulations currently guiding travel procedures before making reservations. The Covid-19 restrictions remain dynamic; changing as the situation warrant.
If you come in contact with someone experiencing symptoms of the Virus or otherwise suspect you may be have been exposed it is recommended that you self-quarantine for the recommended 14 day period and get the necessary medical attention.
During Public Holidays in Costa Rica, most business places and many of the Country’s Government offices, banks, stores, and in some places of entertainment will be closed or have adjusted operating times. Plan your movements to ensure that you will not need the services of an institution that may be closed due to the pandemic or for their public holidays, ‘feriados’ or ‘day-off’, especially on Mondays.
Local tourism is being encouraged so expect gatherings observing the protocols of wearing masks and social-distancing at resorts, hotels, car-rental agencies, beaches and other fun/ scenic places. National Parks have modified their regulations for use and visitors must check their regulations in advance.
Below is a List of Popular Holidays and Festive Occasions in 2021.
*Due to the Covid-19 pandemic most if not all the festivals can or may be cancelled.
|Feb 17th, 2021||Ash Wednesday|
|*March (1st Week)||Bonanza Cattle Show, Horse Racing, Bull Fights-San Jose|
|*March||Oxcart Drivers Day, Dia de los Boyeros –San Antonio de Escazu.|
|*Mid March||National Orchid Show; National Farmers Day; Fruit Festival.|
|*March||International Arts Festival, San Jose, Theatrical & Dance|
|Mar, 14th, 2021||Daylight Savings Time begins (USA & Canada)|
|Mar 19th, 2021||San Jose’s Day -Masses. Street food festivals|
|Mar 20th, 2021||March Equinox (Astronomical Spring)|
|Mar 28th, 2021||Palm Sunday|
|Mar. 28th – Apr. 4th, 2021||Holy Week- Sunday Mar. 28th to Apr. 4th|
|Apr. 1st, 2021||Maundy Thursday|
|Apr. 2nd, 2021||Good Friday|
|Apr 4th, 2021||Easter Sunday|
|Apr 12th, 2021||Juan Santamaria Day (Battle of Rivas)|
|May 3rd, 2021||Workers Day, Labor Day, May Day|
|Jun 3rd, 2021||Fest of Corpus Christi Day|
|Jun 20th, 2021||Father’s Day|
|Jun 20th, 2021||June Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)|
|Jun 29th, 2021||St. Peter & St. Paul’s Day|
|Jul 16th, or closest Saturday||Virgin of the Sea Day|
|Jul 26th, 2021||Annexation of Guanacaste|
|Aug 2nd, 2021||Our Lady of Los Angeles, a tribute to La Negrita.|
|Aug 15th, 2021||Mother’s Day|
|Aug 15th, 2021||Assumption Day (The deceased Virgin’s body is ‘assumed’ into heaven)|
|Aug 24th, 2021||National Parks Day|
|Sep 3rd Week of||International Beach Clean-Up Day|
|Sep 9th, 2021||Children’s Day|
|Sep 15th 2021||Independence Day|
|Sep 22nd, 2021||September Equinox|
|Oct 11th, 2021||National Cultural Day|
|Oct 31st, 2021||Halloween|
|Nov 2nd, 2021||All Souls Day|
|Nov 4th, 2021||Dawali Hindu Festival of Lights|
|Nov 22nd, 2021||Teachers Day|
|Dec 8th, 2021||Feast of the Immaculate Conception|
|Dec 21st, 2021||December Solstice|
|Dec 25th, 2021||Christmas Day|
|Dec 31st, 2021||New Year’s Eve|
Costa Rican’s love a festive celebration and display their joyous, friendly personalities to rhythmic music at every possible occasion. Food is always a good accompaniment to a celebration, nor would it be complete without something liquid to lift-the-spirits and quench the thirst. But some celebrations are more solemn, such as religious ceremonies where groups participate in age-old rituals; then the food and the music may be different and more fitting to the occasion.
*Special Note: You will find that frequently featured ‘Bull-riding’ and ‘Bullfighting’ these events here are bloodless sport in Costa Rica.
Covid-19 may cause the famous Bonanza Cattle Show to be cancelled. Traditionally held during the first week of March, Costa Rica’s working cowboys demonstrate their skills at horseracing, rodeo events, bull riding and the only bullfight* in the world where the bull is not harmed; the main show is staged in San Jose.
*Costa Rica practices a humane style of Bullfighting. The bulls are not harmed; if any blood is shed it will come from the Matadors. Check it out! The colorful spectators and activity make this a ‘Super Photo-Op’.
At some time in March, 9 usually the second Sunday, is ‘Dia de los Boyeros’, or *Oxcart Drivers day, this is another opportunity for photographers to capture unusual and graphic works of art as the Ox Cart decorators compete for bragging-rights for the ‘Best Cart In Show’. Escazu, San Jose comes alive at this time. It’s a colorful spectacle for the entire family; as usual food and drink are plentiful along with live music.
In mid March, Costa Rica’s agricultural produce is showcased as they celebrate National Farmers Day. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables and their tasty by-products come to show at the hosting of the ‘Fruit Festival’, in Orotina, Alajuela. Costa Rica is well known for their fresh fruit and vegetables; now taste the mouth-watering dishes and beverages made with all fresh, local, produce (Covid-19 may force a cancellation).
Also in mid March, is the National Orchid Show which is a ‘World Event’ staged in San Jose with many challengers for the top-ribbon honors. Over 300 species of orchids in full bloom take the stage. A sensational Photo-Op! (Covid-19 may force a cancellation)
March 19th, 2021, the Feast of St. Joseph is celebrated with Roman Catholic masses, followed by local pageants and celebrations throughout Costa Rica.
March 20, 2021, is the March Equinox, the beginning of the Astronomical Spring; this is evidenced by the many flowering and bearing items on show.
March 29th to April 4th 2021, Holy Week- The week before Easter, known as Semana Santa; it is a time for religious devotion throughout Costa Rica. Many businesses close for the entire week as a mark of respect.
Traditionally, activities in Costa Rica come to a standstill during ‘Holy Week’. This is the time of the year when Roman Catholics participate in their most sacred and solemn events on their calendar; it is the period just preceding, and including, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
- In recent times, Costa Rica is a Roman Catholic society; they still observe the old Holy traditions. Yet some people prefer to spend the time relaxing with family and friends even on these public holidays still paying respect to the Holiest of Traditions.
- Government Offices, business places, restaurants and bars are mandated to close on Maundy Thursday, April 1st, 2021 and Good Friday, April 2nd, 2021. Be sure to check the opening hours of places you intend to visit on those days.
- Hospitals, Health Centres, Police Stations and other essential services will remain open and operational during Holy Week.
- April 1st, 2021 Maundy Thursday
- April 2nd, 2021 Good Friday
- April 4th, 2021 Easter Sunday; University faculties participate in parades with music and dancing. (Covid-19 may force a cancellation of festivities)
- April 12, 2021, Juan Santamaria Day; recounts the Battle of Rivas, where Juan Santamaria of Alajuela, a young drummer-boy in the Costa Rican Army, used a torch to set fire to the invading slave trader William Walker’s stronghold. He was shot dead in the process. He is a celebrated National Hero for his bravery, helping Costa Rica defeat the invading William Walker’s rabble in 1856.
- May 3rd, 2021, Wednesday-is Workers Day, Labor Day or Dia de los Trabajadores, a public holiday honoring the workers of Costa Rica. Join them and enjoy a game of Cricket or one of the other outdoor events. There will be plenty of good music, food and beverages. Another great Photo-Op!’
- Sunday, June 20th, 2021, Dia de los Padres, or Father’s Day.
- Thursday, June 3rd, 2021, Corpus Christie Day, Christian observance that honors the Holy Eucharist. It is also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ. The instruments of the Holy Sacrament (bread and wine) are usually offered during Communion, or Eucharist, on Corpus Christi.
- Sunday, June 20th, 2021 -June Solstice or Summer Solstice
- Monday, June 28th, 2021, Dia de Dan Pedro y San Pablo, religious celebrations honoring the Saints Peter and Paul.
Friday, July 16th, 2021- Fiesta de la Virgen del Mar. The Virgin of the Sea Festival celebrations are held to honor the patron of the sea. Brightly decorated boats parade in processions carrying a statue of the Virgin Mother, a special mass follows.
Monday, July 26th, 2021- Dia de Guanacaste celebrates the day when the people of Guanacaste chose Cost Rican rule over Nicaraguan (1824). Dating back to a time before Guanacaste was yet a Principal of Costa Rica. Liberia erupts in jubilantion with festivities and fireworks.
- Monday, August 2nd, 2021, Our Lady of the Angeles is a very religious day in Costa Rica. A pilgrimage travelling on foot travels from San Jose to Los Angeles Basilica de Cartago, in order to honor La Negrita, the black Virgin Mother. Expect a huge crowd of people seeking mercies and cures for various ailments.
- Sunday, August 15th, 2021-is Dia de Madre is Mother’s Day a special day in Costa Rica. Ticos take the day off to be with or honor memories of their mothers.
- Sunday, August 15th, 2021-is is the day Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”.
- Monday, August 30th, 2021, honors San Ramon, the town’s patron saint.
- Tuesday, August 24th, 2021, National Parks Day.
- Monday, August 30th, 2021, The National Day of Black and Afro-Costa Rican Culture is an official Costa Rican celebration lasting for a week.
- Thursday, September 9th, 2020 – National Children’s Day
- Wednesday, September 15th, 2020- Independence Day is enthusiastically celebrated throughout the Country. Costa Rica comes alive in proud memory of the country’s Independence from Spain in 1821. Moved to Monday, September 13th, 2021
- During the 3rd week of September, 2021, locals and visitors team-up to clean the coastal beaches of Costa Rica on International Beach Clean-Up Day. A night of festivities marks the close of the weeks of work.
- Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021, is the start of the September Equinox, the first day of fall.
- Monday, October 11th, 2021- National Cultures Day, replaces Dia de la Raza in celebration of Culture.
- Sunday, October 31st, 2021- Halloween was not a recognized holiday in years gone by, but is now a highly celebrated event with contests for best costumes and trick-or-treating.
- Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021- Dia de lo Muertos, ‘All Souls Day’, Ticos and Ticas visit their departed friends and loved one’s in cemeteries, leaving food, drink, flowers and other tokens of remembrance.
- Thursday, November 4th, 2021-Dawali Hindu Festival of Lights.
- Monday, November 22nd, 2021- Teachers Day will honour teachers throughout the country.
- Sunday, November 28, 2021- U.S. Thanksgiving, many hotels and bars celebrate the holiday; it is not a Public holiday but “Oh! What-a-Night”.
- Monday, November 29, 2021- of the Abolition of the Army. (Normally celebrated on December 1st
- Wednesday, December 8th, 2021- Fiesta de los Negritos, Roman Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin.
- During the week before Christmas, big celebrations throughout the Country (Covid-19 permitting) for the Festival de la Luz (Festival of Lights). Concerts, street parades, and fireworks take place after dark in parks and public places.
- Friday, December 24th, 2021- Christmas Eve, most stores have shortened opening hours closing early to enjoy time with their families. At midnight the churches herald in the birth of the Saviour with the Misa de Gallo, Mass of the Rooster celebrated throughout the country. (The Rooster plays a very important part in the Catholic religion and it can be seen on many weather vanes and other Catholic symbols).
- Saturday, December 25th, 2021- Christmas Day is a family day, many go to the beaches or relaxing in the cool rainforest. For most families, the day begins with a Mass in a local church before exchanging gifts and a traditional Christmas feast. In San Jose the famous horse parade Tope Caballos kicks-off, featuring the Criollo horse breed.
- Friday, December 31st, 2021- New Year’s Eve and the night is filled with many parties and festive celebrations across the country as Costa Ricans herald in the New Year.