Everything You Must Know About the Zapote Festival in San Jose, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, vibrant culture, live music, and lively festivals. One such festival that stands out is the Zapote Festival in San José.

Located in the downtown Zapote district, this festival is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the true essence of Costa Rican culture. The Zapote Costa Rica Festival offers something for everyone, from thrilling bull riding events to colorful fireworks and lively dancing.

Get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Zapote Festival! 

Don't miss the rodeo and bullfight in Zapote, Costa Rica.

What Is the Zapote Festival in Costa Rica?

The Zapote Festival, also known as “Fiestas de Zapote”, is a traditional Costa Rican carnival held annually in the Zapote district of the capital city, San Jose. It usually occurs during the last week of December and continues into the New Year festivities.

The festival is one of the most expected events in Costa Rica, attracting both Costa Ricans and foreign tourists.

History of the Zapote Festival

The festival originated as a local fair for farmers to showcase their livestock and agricultural products. Over the years, it has evolved into a grand celebration featuring various events and activities. The bull riding event, Toros a la Tica, is one of the festival’s highlights and draws large crowds yearly.

The Zapote Festival experience

Attending the Zapote festival is a unique and unforgettable experience. The festival ground is filled with a carnival and party-like atmosphere, with food stalls, bumper cars, bullfighting, cotton candy, and more.

As you enter the “campo ferial,” you will be greeted by the delicious aroma of traditional Costa Rican dishes cooked at the food stalls. The variety will be easy to see; from ‘gallo pinto’ (rice and beans) to ‘chicharrones’ (fried pork rinds), you’ll have abundant options.

One of the main attractions of the festival is the bull-riding event. Brave “improvisados” (amateur bull riders) take turns riding the bulls, while professional bullfighters entertain the crowd with their skills. It is a thrilling event that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

As the sun sets, the festival comes alive with colorful fireworks lighting up the sky. Music fills the air as people dance the night away to the rhythm of Latin America. It is a celebration of life, culture, family, and community that brings people from all walks of life.

Tips for Attending the Zapote Festival

If you are planning to participate in the Zapote festival, here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Dress comfortably: The festival is held outdoors, so it is advisable to dress comfortably and wear sturdy shoes. A hat and sunscreen are also recommended to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Stay hydrated: It can get hot during the day, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Be prepared for crowds: The Zapote Festival is a popular event that attracts large crowds. Be prepared for long lines at the food stalls and rides.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings: With large groups, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on your belongings and be mindful of your surroundings.
  • Enjoy the experience: The Zapote Festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Embrace the culture, enjoy the food, and have fun!

Other Attractions in Zapote

While the Zapote festival is the city’s main attraction, the Zapote district has much more to offer. The Casa Presidencial, the official residence of the President of Costa Rica, is located in Zapote. Although it is not open to the public, it is worth visiting the area to see the beautiful architecture and well-maintained gardens.

The Zapote market in town is another must-visit attraction in the area. It is a vibrant market with fresh fruits, vegetables, and other local products. It is a great place to experience the local culture and try some delicious Costa Rican food.

Celebrate Costa Rica’s Culture and Tradition

Celebrating Costa Rica’s rich culture and traditions at the Zapote Festival is an experience like no other. The exciting bull riding competitions, tasty food, and dance make this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a cultural celebration. So, there’s no reason to hold off. Get in touch with Fin My Costa Rica now to start organizing your trip to Zapote.

The Zapote Festival is like the Super Bowl for Ticos.


  • Is the Zapote Festival suitable for children?

The Zapote Festival offers a variety of attractions and activities that are suitable for people of all ages. However, some events, such as bull riding, may not be ideal for young children.

  • Can I bring my own food and drinks to the Zapote Festival?

While the Zapote Festival is known for its delicious array of traditional Costa Rican foods and refreshing beverages, you may also bring your own food and drinks. 

However, it’s essential to be mindful of the festival’s rules and regulations regarding outside food and beverages. Before attending, it’s a good idea to check the specific guidelines and policies set by the organizers for that year’s event.

  • Is it safe to attend the Zapote Festival?

Yes, the Zapote Festival is generally safe. However, it is always recommended to be mindful of your surroundings, keep an eye on your belongings, and stay hydrated.

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