It’s Christmas Day in Costa Rica and that means Zapote, the annual fair of all fairs that takes place in San Jose. Starting at noon today and running to Jan. 7, the Zapote fair attracts thousands from the Central Valley and around the country.

The ‘redondel’ (bullring) is the center piece of the Zapote Fair that kicks off today at noon and runs to Jan. 7. The first running of the bulls stats at 3.

The annual fair includes chinamos (street food), bars, concerts, games and of course, what would Zapote be without the toros (bulls). Tuesday last (Dec. 19), the Municipalidad de San José (Municipality of San Jose) announced at a press conference the investment of ¢60 million colones carried out by the Coopecasa company.

The redondel this year can accommodate 300 more people, for a total of 3,000 per each of the two daily events

The first “Toros a la Tica” takes place at 3:00 pm today, in the newly renovated “redondel” (bullring) that can accommodate 300 people more this year, for a total of 3,000 spectators per show. There are two shows daily, 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

The Toros a la Tica is a bunch of mainly young men taunting a bull and then running out of its way. By an large the bulls are tame and their horns not so sharp, but the bull doesn’t always lose the taunt.

The Zapote fair opens at 11:00 am daily.

The Zapote fair is located on the east side of San Jose, near to Multiplaza del Este and Pricesmart.

The Tope

On Tuesday, December 26, horses and their riders take over Paseo Colon and Avenida Segunda in the annula “Tope” (horse parades).

The tope is more than just horses. File photo

The annual event following Christmas Day usually involves thousands of horses and riders. On several occasions Buffaloes have been part of the event.

Although drinking in public is not permitted, open cans of Imperial (beer) and liquor are visible throughout the route.

The Carnaval

Behind them are the crews of sweepers, making Paseo Colon and Avenida 2 clean enough for the return of the “Carnaval” – the street parade – on Wednesday, December 27.

This is the second concecutive year for the Carnaval, after an 11-year absence in San Jose.

This year the event includes eleven comparsas (musicians and dancers) from across the country, floats and some 50 vintage cars.

The Tope and Carnaval will move in a westerly direction from Avenida 2 to Paseo Colon. In the case of the Carnaval, there is an open-air concert, on Paseo Colon, at the end of the parade.

Beyond San Jose

The annual tradition of fairs, bullfights and carnavals conitnues beyond San Jose to all small and big towns across the country.

Some of the more notable events are the Palamares and Puntarenas festivals, almost matching the size and attendance of Zapote.

Palmares is about 40 minutes from San Jose. The event is held this year from Jan.11 to Jan. 22 .

Palmares Fiestas is one of the most highly anticipated cultural celebrations in Costa Rica. File photo.

This year, the Pacific port town of Puntarenas will play host to the annual event between Feb. 8 and Feb. 18.

The Pacific port town of Puntarenas will host its annual event between Feb. 8 and Feb. 18. File photo.