On Christmas day the annual Zapote fair jump starts the festivities. Famous for its running of the bulls, mechanical rides for the kids, food stands, a multitude of concerts and activities revolving around bulls including tormenting them and then dodging them, all without actually killing them as in many countries in Latin America and Spain. The Zapote fairgrounds or recinto ferial are located east of San José in the suburb of Zapote. I first attended in the early 1980s.
Every December 25 the Tope or horse parade takes place in downtown San José. Hundreds of riders (caballistas) and their horses participate.
The following day the traditional downtown Carnaval is held in the city. This annual event consists of comparsas featuring music (cimarronas) and dances and much more.
After the activities die down in the San José area, the action shifts to the town of Palmares, 35 miles to the west. For almost two weeks in January this virtually non- stop party take place with parades, rodeos, concerts filling the fairgrounds and town’s streets. Over one million people from all parts of the country attend.
Rounding out this series of seasonal events is the carnaval held in the Pacific coast port town of Puntarenas in February. A whole series of activities revolve around the festivities.
Taking advantage of the dry season additional activities and festivals are held in other parts of the country including the Transarte Festival in downtown San José’s parks.