The Christmas season in Costa Rica brings with it many colorful celebrations. The Festival de la Luz or “Festival of the Lights” is perhaps the most spectacular event of the holiday season. It takes place on the second Saturday of December and is sponsored by the Municipality of San José. This year’s celebration is 18th edition of the event. The first Festival de la Luz took place in 1996. I was there with my wife and son who was 9 years old at the time. Since then this yearly event has grown by leaps and bounds. This year there will 9 floats (carrozas), sixteen bands and 7 groups of cheerleaders (porristas).There will also be costumes (mascaradas), hear live music, and see dancing.
Between 800 and one million people are expected to attend. Together with the annual pilgrimage (Romería) to the city of Cartago, it is the event that attracts the most people. One of the parade’s organizers said when referring to it, “The parade has improved, grown and become more spectacular every year. We (the Municipality) are really proud of our accomplishment.”
Those who can’t attend the parade in person should not worry about missing the festivities since it will be televised by couple of local TV stations. However, every foreign resident including expat retirees should try to see the Festival de la Luz at least one time in person. Part of living here is experiencing the local culture by attending events like this one.
The parade begins on Avenue 42, goes up Paseo Colón and then turns onto Second Avenue (Avenida Segundo). It gets underway at 6 pm and ends with a fire works show at around 11 pm. Each year there are awards for the best bands and for the brightest and most creative float. The parade’s grand marshall is usually a famous Costa Rican whose has made a significant contribution to the country. Franklin Chan, Costa Rica’s only astronaut, is an example of those who have served as the parade’s grand marshall. In the past the country’s soccer national soccer team and an Olympic swimming champion were among those who have served as grand marshall.
Any questions about it can be addressed to the Municipality of San Jose at 2547-6013 or you may check out their Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Festival-de-la-Luz.