Holidays in Costa Rica are especially full of colorful celebrations and lively festivals, and the lighting of the façade of the Children’s Museum, or Museo de los Niños, is one of the most highly anticipated affairs, especially for kids.
Drawing an enthusiastic crowd of young and old who admire the hundreds of light bulbs that will illuminate the outline of the “Castle of Dreams,” the this year's edition of the Fantasia Festival kicks off the Christmas season on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at 6:30 pm.
Pre-festival activities will begin at 4 p.m., with a main stage set up in front of the museum for live music and special guest appearances. This year, the main theme is peace and reconciliation, promoting a message of faith and hope to kick off the holiday season.
Fantasia Festival at the Museo de los Niños in Costa Rica — Photo courtesy of Museo de los Niños CR
Arrive extra early. Or, better yet, come back another day and plan to spend a few hours exploring the inside of the museum. Upon its opening in 1994, the Children's Museum was Central America’s first interactive museum, with a long list of original exhibits designed to engage and inspire. Kids of all ages are welcome, and many parents find the exhibits to be entertaining and educational for them as well.
The museum was founded by Gloria Bejarano de Calderón, the first Lady of Costa Rica at the time, who envisioned creating a center of science, education, entertainment and culture, where kids could learn by playing and exploring.
In typical Costa Rican style, light continues to champion over dark. The sunny yellow castle building that houses the Children’s Musuem was once a penitentiary, and the 40 interactive exhibit rooms are former cells that contained some of the country’s most reviled criminals.
Today, kids are invited into this labyrinth of exhibit rooms to learn about topics that range from Egyptian culture to recycling, all with underlying messages that promote positive values like friendship, patience, perseverance, happiness and even dental hygiene, in the massive mouth exhibit sponsored by Colgate.
The Children's Museum is under the umbrella of the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture (Centro Costarricense de Ciencia y Cultura). This institution encompasses two other important sites of Costa Rican culture: the National Gallery and the National Auditorium Theatre.
Aside from special occasions such as the Fantasia Festival, regular museum hours include Tuesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance costs ₡1.300 colones for children and ₡1.500 for adults 15 years and up, approximately USD $3 to $4.