New Year’s Eve is about lively gatherings with friends and family. Celebrations often include countdowns to midnight, toasts, and fireworks illuminating the night sky. Still, you might want something different.
If that’s the case, consider visiting Costa Rica! With its incredible culture, delicious food, and tropical landscapes, spending New Year’s Eve in Costa Rica is more than just a celebration; it’s part of its culture and charm.
Is New Year’s a Good Time to Visit Costa Rica?
Absolutely! Costa Rica’s vibrant celebrations make it an ideal destination to ring in the New Year in the best way. Whether you spend the night in a lively party atmosphere or at a more intimate celebration, you’ll have a memorable start to the upcoming year.
How do People in Costa Rica Celebrate New Year’s?
New Year’s is a very family-oriented holiday for Costa Ricans. It’s a time when families gather for festive dinners and lots of laughter and joy. As midnight strikes, fireworks fill the air, and heartfelt hugs are exchanged.
Here’s what you need to know about Costa Rican New Year celebrations:
Traditional festivities and activities
Families and friends gather to celebrate the end of the year. The spirit of joy and togetherness is boosted by some traditions that add to the excitement of things to come. Take a look at the simple yet meaningful traditions that make this enchanting country so special:
Hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner:
Costa Ricans know how to celebrate New Year’s, and since dinners are a vital part of this holiday, food takes center stage. They gather around the table to eat traditional Costa Rican dishes and enjoy some drinks to liven up the night between conversations and dancing as they bid farewell to the previous year.
Until recently, some Costa Ricans tuned in to radio stations and waited for the New Year’s countdown. When midnight rolls around, congratulations, hugs, and blessings are exchanged.
As for food, the ultimate favorite is pork leg, but there’s also chicken rice and chicken with chickpeas. Additionally, they prepare tasty side dishes like potato and apple salad, garden salad, and mashed potatoes. There’s even a Russian salad twist that some families add.
BBQs are another popular dinner option. Locals love grilling carne asada. As the meat cooks on the grill, families gather, talk about the past year, and look forward to the upcoming one.
Additionally, they prepare the famous “chicharronada,” which is homemade pork rinds.
Hosts can offer guests different types of meat with this dish, usually accompanied by ground beans, cabbage, or pico de gallo.
Also, apples, pears, and grapes are a must-have for many locals during the holiday season.
One of the most captivating aspects of celebrating New Year’s in Costa Rica is watching fireworks displays at midnight. However, many years ago, they weren’t part of the usual celebrations during this holiday season because they weren’t as accessible to Costa Rican families and were reserved for celebrations of the community or patron saints.
Whether attending a family celebration, partying with friends, or enjoying a beach party, you’ll see them lighting up the sky, creating a joyful atmosphere.
In places such as Liberia and Cartago, very faithful people go to church as a show of gratitude for the past year and the one to come.
Other cherished celebrations adopted over the years
In addition to the previous new year’s traditions, there are different ways to celebrate the upcoming year that may not be official. It is possible, however, for some individuals and families to follow these practices.
Walking around with a suitcase
Do you wish for a year full of travel and adventures? Then, you should do as many Costa Ricans do when the clock hits midnight and walk around the block carrying a suitcase!
Tossing water over the shoulder
As the New Year approaches, people have a unique way of saying goodbye to the old year’s troubles. Locals toss a pan of water over their shoulder, like saying, ‘So long, bad memories!’ This fun tradition helps everyone start the New Year with good vibes and a fresh perspective.
Choosing the right underwear
Costa Ricans have this quirky but charming tradition of choosing the color of their underwear based on what they wish for the new year.
Here’s how it works:
- Wear yellow underwear to bring luck.
- With green underwear, you can attract wealth.
- Wear red underwear if you’re hoping for love in the upcoming year.
You can also hang ribbons of the same colors on your front door to symbolize and attract these positive energies. Also, you can wear these colors on your clothes.
Eating 12 grapes
Do you want to guarantee good luck for each month of the upcoming year? Do what Costa Ricans do and eat 12 grapes as midnight comes. Each grape represents a new month, and you make a wish with each.
The belief is that if you eat 12 grapes and make wishes at the exact moment of the new year, you’ll have good luck throughout the year.
Finding a Santa Lucía flower
Locals like Santa Lucía flowers. On January 1st, they put this flower in their wallet to attract money all year long. If they want to wish their friends or family prosperity, they gift them a bouquet of Santa Lucía flowers.
Singing to the past year
In addition to these traditions, there’s a widely cherished unspoken one: Costa Rica’s most popular New Year’s Eve song, “El Año Viejo,” echoes throughout the country on this festive day.
Where to Spend New Year’s Eve in Costa Rica?
Choosing Costa Rica as your New Year’s Eve destination is a treat. The country has a lot to offer, including a lively party scene on beaches and a festive atmosphere in downtown San Jose.
Take a look at the most popular places to stay during this time of the year:
A full-on beach party takes place in Tamarindo during New Year’s, with bonfires, dancing, and lively bars. As a result, both tourists and locals consider it to be one of the best beaches for New Year’s Eve parties.
However, it can get crowded, so it’s advisable to avoid driving and, instead, walk. No worries; everything is within walking distance.
And when it’s midnight, the time comes to see incredible fireworks visible right from the beach in Tamarindo.
Besides celebrating, you can also enjoy other fun activities in the area, including horseback riding, scuba diving, surfing, and fishing! Also, you can explore Arenal Volcano & Ecotermales Hot Springs, visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park, or go on a catamaran sailing tour to see some of Guanacaste’s exotic bays!
Santa Teresa throws the best New Year’s Eve parties ever. The host is Ranchos Itauna, a well-known nightclub in the area. This boho-chic hotel, located right on the beach, throws a fabulous celebration open to anyone who wants to attend. There’s a high chance it’ll be crowded, so be prepared to walk.
If you stay in Santa Teresa for the new year, you can also explore the area. You can easily see monkeys, squirrels, and lizards hanging around here. Besides that, the hotel offers bicycles and ATVs to explore waterfalls, tide pools, rivers, and natural reserves like the Curu Wildlife Refuge near Santa Teresa.
If you’re staying in San Jose, you definitely have to check out the Wyndham Hotel. Located in Heredia, San Jose, you’ll get some of the finest parties in the country.
These parties feature top Costa Rican bands, a premium open bar for 10 hours, gourmet dinners, BBQ buffets, international DJs, shows, carnivals, photo booths, midnight toasts, and even a pool after-party.
With multiple DJs playing all night long, Vertigo Nightclub in Paseo Colon is another excellent option, especially if you’re up to non-stop dancing.
Also, you can’t miss the six-day Fiesta Zapote, a famous celebration that starts on December 26th and ends the first week of January. It features music, bullfights, traditional food, games, rides, and more!
La Fortuna is a cool spot for the New Year. It’s not just about nature; La Fortuna knows how to party! New Year’s Eve is filled with awesome fireworks, dancing, and fun games for kids.
A cool thing about La Fortuna is that many hotels throw special dinners. Additionally, the local Development Association hosts free fireworks and parties for locals and visitors alike. You’ll have a blast as you welcome the New Year in La Fortuna and be part of the community vibe.
Playas del Coco
Playas del Coco, formerly a peaceful fishing community, is now a cool spot to go, especially on New Year’s Eve. People pack the streets and the beach at midnight for the big celebration and fireworks.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can grab a bite before midnight. You can also see the fireworks from the Papagayo Peninsula, including resorts like Four Seasons and Andaz.
Tips for Celebrating New Year’s Eve
No matter where you celebrate, a little preparation can make the evening more fun. With the following tips, you’ll enjoy the vibrant setting and create cherished memories:
- It’s normal for a New Year’s Eve party to get fully booked, so make your reservations ahead of time.
- Wear comfortable clothes that look stylish, considering the Costa Rican climate.
- You can try some fun, popular practices, like eating 12 grapes at midnight or tossing some water over your shoulder!
- Make sure you have cash on hand for spending since some places don’t take cards.
- Stay hydrated, especially if you’re attending outdoor events.
- Keep your belongings secure, be aware of your surroundings, and have a designated meeting point if attending large events.
Experience the Unique Charm of New Year’s Eve in Costa Rica
Take part in Costa Rica’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, and you’ll be energized by the country’s vibrant atmosphere. The lively festivities, the locals’ cherished traditions, and the delicious food make it an unforgettable experience.
To guarantee a fantastic trip from preparation to completion, rely on us. Contact Find My Costa Rica and let us handle every detail of your vacation so you can focus on enjoying it.
1- What is the weather like in Costa Rica for New Year's?
The country enters its dry season in December. Therefore, the weather is usually warm and dry during New Year’s, with rain showers at the end of the month. Packing light clothing, sunscreen, and an umbrella, just in case, is advisable.
Learn more about the December weather by reading our blog, “Costa Rica Weather In December – Everything You Must Know.“
2- Do tourists need to know Costa Rican New Year's Eve etiquette?
Although there’s no strict etiquette, tourists can improve their experience by embracing local traditions. Avoiding excessive noise early in the morning is appreciated.