We aren’t totally sure why you chose April as your month for a Costa Rican vacation, all we know is that you’ve decided to visit this tropical country during the most celebratory month of the year. December takes second place only to April, when the entire month is occupied with nearly nonstop partying. Spring breakers will have found the perfect party destination, and families won’t be left behind either. You’ll see constant parades down the streets, stumble upon multiple city fairs in public parks, and may just be invited to party along with the locals.
April is by far the most fun and joyful month of the year. Because of this, however, you’ll need to make your plans well in advance. People from all over the world are planning April vacations, and you don’t want to miss out on that perfect eco-lodge reservation or the highly-anticipated rainforest hike. Read through our list of upcoming fairs and festivals, and decide which ones you want to see during your stay. As soon as your dates are decided, it’s time to start booking.
Semana Santa (Holy Week, the week before Easter)
Holy Week, called Semana Santa locally, is celebrated worldwide by somber Catholic masses and meditation. Central America, however, doesn’t follow this serious tradition. Instead, nearly every citizen of any Central American country will hit the beach for an entire week of family, fun, and heavy eating. People from all over the globe, most notably college students on their spring break, will flock to Costa Rica for the best Semana Santa trip of all times. If you have time for a trip in April, you absolutely don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Come down to Costa Rica for Semana Santa. You’ll need to make your hotel reservations in advanced, but it’s worth the extra work. You’ll be in for a week of parades, street food, and drinking on the beach. This will be the perfect opportunity to meet some local friends as well, as you’re bound to run into a group of friends holding an open party on a beach near you. You’ll have the best of live music, the best of traditional food, and the absolute best access to an inside glimpse of local culture.
For Holy Week, the majority of the country gets the entire week off of work. They’ll have rented beach homes or hotels in advanced, and many families and groups of friends will hit the shoreline for some quality time together. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are celebrated most fervently, often with fireworks and blasting music.
Easter Sunday, the last day of a long week of celebrations, is the calmest day of all. Religious families will go to church while the rest of the country takes the opportunity to rest up for the upcoming days of work. Easter Sunday will be quiet and most attractions will be closed. You’ll still have access to white-sand beaches and beach-side restaurants, however, so there’s nothing to fear.
Juan Santamaria Day (April 11)
Juan Santamaria is a local legend. His story may be over, but the celebrations are still going strong. Young Juan, back in 1856, helped his country in defeating William Walker, the self-proclaimed president of Nicaragua from the United States, during the battle of Rivas. This brave warrior from the Alajuela area died during this battle, but his efforts helped to create a free and safe Costa Rica.
Every year on April 11, the country acknowledges his hard work and sacrifice. His home town of Alajuela, however, goes one step further. In Juan Santamarias birthplace you’ll find parades, school marching bands, and bloodless bull rides. Fairs will be set up throughout the city where you can find street food and dancing. This will be a great way to learn a bit about Costa Rica’s history and how to celebrate it.
San Vincente de Moravia Fair (Mid-April)
This party will be another western-style affair. In the Moravia area, the citizens will be celebrating their patron saint. Decorated city parks will hold the fair, and roads will be blocked off to allow parades and marching bands a path through the town. Your day will be characterized by street food, music, and traditional dancing.
The true star of the show, however, will be the bull rides. Costa Rican cowboys and their finest bulls will come to Moravia from every corner of the country. These friendly rides won’t injure either the bull or the cowboy, but the participant who can stay atop his bucking bull for the longest amount of time will win prizes and enough pride to last the year.
This party will be very similar to the San Vincente de Moravia Fair. This is, in fact, the traditional way for all Costa Rican cities to celebrate their patron saints or feast days. Here, you’ll find more music, more food, and more bull rides. You’ll also be able to go on a few carnival rides and participate in a raffle or two. Regardless of whether you live in the area, you’ll be happy to celebrate your host town and all the people in it.
Fiesta Tarrazu (April 25)
Hopefully you aren’t yet bored of street fairs and friendly bull rides, because the end of April brings yet another. This party will have the same dancing, the same street food, and the same bull fights, but will be distinguished by a more traditional aspect. You’ll have a chance to hear traditional music played live, will hear local poems recited, and may see some dancers in Costa Rica’s old traditional garb. This will be a family-friendly affair with an incredible cultural twist thrown in.
University Week (last week of April)
Costa Rica has one of the best education systems in all of Latin America, and it’s something to be proud of. The public university system is top-notch, and the huge variety of private, public, and religious primary and secondary schools means that there’s a perfect fit for everyone. To celebrate the country’s huge advancements made in education, the University of Costa Rica in San Jose throws a week-long party. There will be academic displays, exhibits, parades, and live music. This party won’t just be for the university students either. Families come to support their students and alumni join future students in enjoying the festive atmosphere. There’s no better reason to celebrate than country-wide development and academic advancement, so if you have time, show your support by joining in the fun.