Fiestas Palmares is Costa Rica’s most popular party of the year. From Wednesday, Jan. 14, to Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, the otherwise unassuming coffee farming town just an hour from the capital city of San Jose will transform itself into Costa Rica’s biggest and best annual event, descended upon by some 500,000 revelers.
The musical entertainment and much of the refreshments of this annual January bash are sponsored by Imperial Beer, and Fiestas Palmares has been recognized as one of the world’s foremost beer-drinking events, second only to Oktoberfest.
Fiestas Palmares concert in Costa Rica — Photo courtesy of Fiestas Palmares
Kicking off the festivities on Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. is the second edition of the Festival of Humor, starring Luismi Comedian from Spain. Preparate Vos Tambien Para Hacer Amigos, or "Prepare yourselves to make friends again," is this year’s tagline, and what better way than over stand-up comedy?
Reggae band Cultura Profética and reggaeton sensation Farruko, both from Puerto Rico, are offering free concerts at this year's Fiestas de Palmares, to be held on Sunday, Jan. 18, and Sunday, Jan. 25, respectively, at the concert fairgrounds at 12 noon.
The reggae music kicks off on Thursday, Jan. 15, when you can listen to the beats of Bambui The Kuarta. On the 16th, Iron Live and Express take to the stage. And then on the 17th, acts include Sleepwalker, Magic Juan, I-Nesta and Messiah.
In the pop-up circular arena, called the redondel, a total of eight corridas – Costa Rica’s bloodless bullfights – are slated for the nights of Jan. 15, 18, 19, 21, 24, 25 and 26. The opening night will be the most popular, with the most dramatic of bullfighters and the biggest turnout; at least 2,500 riders are expected.
On Jan. 17, you can catch classic Mexican Ranchera songstress La Paquita del Barrio at the Ranchero Festival at 7 p.m.
To round out the fun, Fiestas Palmares boasts a mountain bike race of 33.5 kilometers, also on Jan. 17 at 9:00 am. It’s a $30 registration fee to join hundreds of cycling enthusiasts on this classic race through the picturesque pueblo of Palmares.
Carnival will be Jan. 23, at 4 p. m, with the participation of 16 troupes from around the country, including three masquerade groups.
While there are designated kid-friendly areas, Fiestas Palmares is primarily an event for adults.
If you’re in Costa Rica this Jan. 14 through the 26, then book a hotel in San Jose as soon as possible, bring friends and make amigos nuevos between the reggae music, bulls, bands and horses of this especially festive annual event.