avenidazo-a
The Avenidazo is a part of the San Jose Christmas activities.

COSTA RICA EXTRA – The capital city will kick off the Christmas 2016 season on Friday, December 2 with a series of free holiday events for the entire family. The 2016 Christmas in San Jose kicks off at the newly renovated Plaza de la Cultura, that includes the lighting of the Capital ceremony, an activity organized by the Municipality of San Jose and sponsored by the private telecom, Movistar.

The event will follow with a concert of the Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Among the other activities this month are:

  • Handicraft Fair in the Parque Central (Central Park) to Sunday Dec. 4
  • National Tales Festival from Dec. 2 to 4 at the Church de La Soledad
  • Christmas Parade on Saturday Dec. 3 on Avenida Central (not to be mistaken for the Carneval)
  • Christmas Festival in the park, Sunday Dec. 4 in the Parque Bolivia
  • Christmas Ball, in Chinatown on December 8 at 6:00pm
  • Christmas Holiday Contest, also on Dec. 8 on Avenida Central and surrounding streets
  • Cultural Festival Aires Navideños, on Dec. 9, 10 & 11 in Okayama Park, San Francisco de Dos Ríos starting at 6:00pm
  • Philharmonic Orchestra, December 10 at 6:00pm in Chinatown
  • Christmas Festival on Thursday Dec. 15 at 5:00pm, outside the Correos (Post Office) building
  • Presentation of the ‘Nativity Scene’ in La Plaza de la Cultura, Dec. 16 at 11:00am

The BIG events are:

Santa can't be missing
Santa can’t miss an appearance in the Festival of Lights, Carnval and TOPE, as pictured here.
    • Festival of Lights (Festival de la Luz)

      Date: Saturday, December 17th
      Location: Between Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda.

      Cyclist Andrey Amador will be the marshal of the 21st edition of the Festival de las Luces. This is perhaps the single most beautiful event of the season. The event includes floats, dancers, music and all other kinds of entertainment to dazzle. The event starts off with a spectacular fireworkds display.

    • Avenidazo

      Date: From Monday 19 to Wednesday 21 December
      Place: Plaza de la Cultura
      An event of simulating snow by throwing confetti. It had been banned for a few years after complaints of confetti hitting eyes. To fully enjoy the event, you need to throw confetti (which can be purchased by vendors) at other people, careful not to hit the face.

    • Zapote Fair

      Date: Christmas day to Sunday January 8
      Location: Zapote Fair Grounds
      By and large the even is free, that is people can visit the fair grounds, enjoy the scenery that may include some street shows, but, this is a commercial affair. Unlike the other activities designed for the free enjoyment by one and all, the fair is designed for visitor to open their wallets to events like the bull fights, rides, games, bars and street foods

    • TOPE

      Date: Monday, December 26
      Location: From the Avenida Segunda to Paseo Colon, starting at noon*
      The downtown streets of San Jose will be filled with horses and their riders (and horse doody), people lining the side of the street to watch and consumer beer and other alcohol (even though prohibited). Watch where you step, there is a lot sh*t going on. This event is a cultural staple of most of the summer fairs in the country.

The TOPE is not all about horses

tope-women tope-more-than-horses

    • CARNEVAL

      Date: Tuesday, December 27
      Location: From the Avenida Segunda to Paseo Colon, starting at noon*
      Back after a decade of absence, the Carneval (Carnival) is back in San Jose. In the past, the event brought thousands to the downtown core, some camping out a day or two ahead to get a front row seat. In the past, the carnival included parades by cheerleaders, marching bands, comics, exotic costumes, antique cars and all kinds of entertainment.

My photo from the last Carneval back in 2005
My photo from the last Carneval back in 2005

Important notes

1. Why they put CARNEVAL after the TOPE still stumps me. Although the crews have in the past done a great job of cleaning up the horse sh*t, the miss a few and then there is the crap (litter) by the people.

2. In the past, the TOPE and CARNEVAL started on the west side, by La Sabana part and moved easterly along Paseo Colon and Avenida Segunda to the Plaza de la Democracia. In the last couple of years, as it will this year, the movement is in the opposite direction, starting on the east side of San Jose and moving west. Really confusing for us in Costa Rica for many years.

3. The Festival de la Luz is a “can’t miss” event, especially if this is your first time in San Jose or Costa Rica. Although it is televised, nothing beats the being on the scene. Two important things, plan out your POV (point-of-view) and arrive early to get a good spot; and two, plan out your escape. If you don’t you will understand my choice of the word escape.

4. The fireworks for the Festival de la Luz are on time. Don’t miss it, it is spectacular. But, it is loud. Last year the majority of the fireworks were fire from La Sabana park. If you have sensitive hearing, choose another location or have something to cover your years, headphones are great. I mean it, they are loud!

5. For most events there are going to be a lot, and I mean, a lot of people. And a great pickings for pickpockets and purse snatching among other petty crimes. Don’t be a victim. Don’t bring valuables. Carry only the cash you plan to spend. For women, wearing anti-groping gear is recommended. This comes from women I know who have had the undesirable experience.

6. Though drinking in public spaces is not permitted, it is tolerated. Having said, don’t.

7. If you are taking public transit to and from any of the events, keep in mind that buses don’t run after a certain time. Plan out your return.

Please use the comments section below or post to our official Facebook page to share your experiences and recommendations for happy and safe holiday season in San Jose.

The post Christmas In San Jose Starts Friday! appeared first on Costa Rica Extra Magazine!.

Original article first appeared at COSTA RICA EXTRA. Reposted with permission.