Posted on 11/17/2023 by Erin Raub

Bring in the New Year in Costa Rica - Our Top Events & Things to Do

If you’re looking for things to do in Costa Rica for New Year’s, then you’ll be delighted to know that Costa Rica's festive holiday season is a vibrant spectacle of color, lights, fireworks, and culinary delights that extends from December 25 to well into the new year. This is an exciting, bright, and joyful time to visit Costa Rica! (Not to mention, we’re enjoying some of the year’s best weather…)

If you're fortunate enough to be visiting during this merriest of seasons, then know that our celebrations continue with unbridled joy and enthusiasm well into January. So, whether you’re interested in cultural events and activities or Costa Rican New Year’s traditions, then consider this your official invitation to the places to be, ways to celebrate, and things to do in Costa Rica for New Year’s.

Costa Rican New Year’s Week Events

It’s important to note that in Costa Rica, there are only a handful of Costa Rica holidays and traditions related to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. That said, there are many, many more when you consider the Christmas-to-New-Year’s week, which is chock-full of festivity. Here’s an introduction to what you can expect:

December 26: El Tope

In December, horse parades grace various locations in Costa Rica, culminating in the grand Tope Nacional, the National Horse Parade, on December 26.

When it comes to our things to do in Costa Rica for New Year’s, el Tope definitely makes the list! Expert riders and skilled wranglers from across the country gather in San José (it’s televised nationally) for this annual extravaganza, showcasing impressive equestrian prowess and choreography. The rhythmic and beautiful Costa Rican high-step performed by both riders and horses is a sight to behold – and an experience you won't want to pass up.

December 26-January 1: Get Away to the Beach!

Costa Ricans cherish their downtime, and the week between Christmas and New Year's is a beloved time for a beach escape.

During this cherished week – don’t be surprised to find much of Costa Rica is totally shut down – most public and many private employees enjoy some or all of these days off, with the added bonus of paid time off. Our own Tamarindo, a favorite beach destination, is brimming with celebratory vibes during this week. However, be aware that Christmas is among the busiest times of the year, and top beach vacation rentals may be booked over a year in advance.

December 31: New Year’s Eve

Traditionally, Costa Ricans celebrate New Year's Eve at home with family and friends (see below), indulging in festive feasts that range from firewood barbecues to a traditional pork roast (pierna de cerdo). More on this, below!

At midnight, elaborate and legal fireworks light up the sky, creating a joyous atmosphere. Over the past decade, New Year's Eve celebrations in Costa Rica have become more commercial, with restaurants, clubs, and venues hosting lively parties. Tamarindo, in particular, offers an array of options for dinner, dancing, live music, champagne toasts, and spectacular fireworks displays.

January 6 & 7: Epiphany and El Rezo al Niño

The 12 Days of Christmas in Costa Rica commence on Christmas Day, leading up to the traditional celebration of Epiphany, or Three Kings' Day, on January 6. Although Epiphany is not widely celebrated, the subsequent event, el rezo del Niño, holds great religious importance.

This festive gathering, typically occurring on January 6 or 7 (but accepted any time in January), sees Catholic Costa Rican families coming together to pray to the baby Jesus, dismantle their intricate nativity scenes, and revel in an abundance of delicious treats, to include baked goods, pastries, and coffee. The rezo marks the conclusion of the Christmas season and the start of a new year, offering a delightful and meaningful conclusion to the festivities.

Celebrate a Costa Rican NYE at Your Luxury Vacation Home

If you’re lucky enough to visit Costa Rica at New Year’s, then why not go all in and celebrate with some of our most treasured Costa Rica holidays and traditions? It’s just one of the many delightful benefits of renting a luxury vacation villa!

Step #1: Light Up the BBQ

Nothing captures the essence of Costa Rican life and holiday celebrations quite like a New Year's Eve barbecue. Whether it's the traditional coffee wood, charcoal, or any available option, Costa Rican families and friends light the barbecue or firepit and gather their favorite grillables – sausage/chorizo, chicken, beef, veggies, hotdogs, hamburgers, corn tortillas, and more – to sizzle and salute the approaching year.

(And don’t be worried if the air on December 31 is scented with wood fires and barbecues! It’s the aroma of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Costa Rica.)

Step #2: Get Ready to Revel

Costa Rica embraces New Year's Eve in two distinct ways – and both are completely acceptable and enjoyable. Given that it's a holiday meant for merriment, feel free to choose the style that suits you best!

Traditionally, New Year's Eve was a cozy family affair: a (somewhat) tranquil gathering at home with your closest loved ones, featuring plenty of music, delectable barbecue fare (see above), and your favorite libations. Revel in entertainment, conversation, and anticipate the arrival of the new year. As we usher in 2024, many families will continue to embrace this timeless tradition.

The second, and one of the increasingly popular things to do in Costa Rica for New Year’s is to turn it into a lively party, tailored to your preferences. For many Costa Ricans, this involves hosting a grand party at home – akin to the family gathering described earlier, but on a larger scale, with more vibrancy.

As you’re a visitor, you probably won’t get an invite to a big family party. That said, there's a third option: New Year's Eve parties. Once a rarity, they have become more prevalent today, especially in Tamarindo. If you're looking to step out on NYE, options abound. (Please ask us! Most parties won’t be announced until sometime in December, and we're eagerly awaiting announcements for all the local events! We’ll be happy to share.)

Step #3: Watch the Fireworks!

Fireworks play a central role in Costa Rica's New Year's Eve festivities, and the enthusiasm is contagious!

Traditionally, Costa Ricans procured their own fireworks – the smaller, safer, do-it-yourself kind bought at roadside stands and ignited in backyards. This practice remains incredibly popular today and has evolved into elaborate backyard displays. If you're fortunate, you might catch a glimpse of someone else's fireworks from your own backyard.

For a guaranteed spectacular fireworks experience, numerous commercial establishments and public spaces organize their own displays. Around Hacienda Pinilla and Tamarindo, some of the best shows unfold right on the beach. Find a spot before midnight, sink your toes into the sand, and witness fire dancers coming to life as fireworks illuminate the night sky and waves crash on the beach. It's a breathtaking sight, especially when mirrored over the Pacific. You're sure to be captivated!

Step #4: Embrace Costa Rica's New Year's Traditions

Latin America boasts numerous New Year's customs and traditions, each tied to wishes for luck, happiness, finances, and joy in the coming year. Here are some favorites:

· 12 Grapes: Enjoying 12 grapes is a cherished New Year's tradition in Costa Rica. Beyond being an imported holiday delicacy, many Costa Ricans consume 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to symbolize 12 wishes and/or 12 months of prosperity for the upcoming year.

· Water Toss: While gringos may think to toss salt over their shoulder for good luck, Costa Ricans traditionally take it a step further by throwing an entire pan of water over their shoulders! However, rather than a superstition, the act symbolizes the act of leaving the old year, with all its challenges, in the past and embracing a new year brimming with promise.

· The Santa Lucía Flower: On January 1, many Costa Ricans place a Santa Lucía flower (often dried) in their wallets, with the intention to carry it throughout the year in order to welcome financial success.

· Color Your Underwear: An old wives' tale in Costa Rica suggests that the color of your underwear on NYE can influence your new year. Wear red to ignite romance, opt for green to attract financial success, and choose yellow for general good luck!

· Stroll Your Suitcase: Eager for new adventures in the coming year? Grab your empty suitcase and take it for a stroll around the block (or thereabouts) to ensure a year filled with exciting travels.

And prepped with your favorite tradition(s), you’re ready for the best of the things to do in Costa Rica for New Year’s: joyfully exclaim, ¡Feliz año nuevo! Pronounced (more or less) as feh-leez ahn-yo new-ay-voh, it means "Happy New Year!" (If you decide to write it out, be sure to include the ñ in año, as omitting it may turn the phrase into a somewhat cheeky (albeit humorously intended) expression!)

Where to Stay

Wondering where to stay for New Year’s? We have a few villas with last-minute (as far as NYE goes…) availability:

Villa Sueno

Dominical | 4 bedrooms | 5 baths | 8 guests

At the meeting point of ocean vistas, a secluded infinity pool, a personal gym and yoga retreat, and culinary delights, Villa Sueno is more than a dream; it's the Costa Rican fantasy that enhances your experience and leaves you breathless with its sweeping 180º panoramic views of golden coastline and the expansive Pacific. Step into your idyllic sanctuary, now a tangible reality. Welcome to paradise!

And if, for you, a vacation is an opportunity to rejuvenate your well-being or rediscover your joy, Villa Sueno is prepared for the task. With a private gym, state-of-the-art fitness amenities, and serene spaces, this is one of our most wellness-oriented villas in Tamarindo. Cultivate serenity. Reconnect with yourself. Pursue tranquility. They all await you here.

It's apt that "sueño" can also signify sleep, particularly the profound and contented sleep you'll relish knowing that you'll wake up in this haven. A place where the captivating view beckons from every angle. A place where the infinity pool invites you to bask in an unhindered panorama of the lush jungle and the limitless expanse of the sea.

>> Book Now <<

Casa Serena

Hacienda Pinilla | 5 bedrooms | 5 baths | 10 guests

Step into the enchanting realm of Casa Serena, and you'll find yourself transported to a world of exclusive, barefoot opulence. Here, koi ponds seamlessly transition into majestic great rooms, and spiral staircases gracefully ascend to airy lofts. Casa Serena undeniably lives up to the term "spectacular."

A sumptuous terrace and a shimmering infinity pool open up to the pristine sands of Playa Bonita, providing a front-row seat to Guanacaste's breathtaking sunsets. From the expansive pool and shaded outdoor terrace to the fully equipped gym, private spa, and soothing sauna, every aspect of this home is meticulously crafted for the perfect vacation experience.

Casa Serena, located directly on the beach, boasts four independent bedroom and bathroom suites, along with a generously sized separate apartment casita. Two master bedrooms, one on the ground floor and another above, offer all the expected luxury amenities, including a comprehensive smart sound system throughout the home, a chef's kitchen, central air-conditioning, a wet bar with a gas grill, a tree-shaded terrace with a serene koi pond, and much more. This is the epitome of barefoot luxury. This is paradise.

>> Book Now <<

Villa Brisa del Mar

Playa Grande | 5 Beds | 4 Baths | 10 Guests

Nestled along the pristine shores of Playa Grande, bordering rare leatherback sea turtle nesting grounds and boasting spectacular surf, Villa Brisa del Mar stands as the ultimate beach retreat. Recently redesigned, this exclusive residence represents one of Playa Grande's original beach bungalows and is poised to be the centerpiece of your unforgettable vacation.

Situated on the turtle-rich coastline, Villa Brisa del Mar is not just a luxury villa but your own private wildlife sanctuary and a haven of luxury. Immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance, where a private pool complements the graceful flight of pelicans, and an oceanview patio sets the stage for potential turtle sightings.

This distinctive home, one of the area’s original beach bungalows, features recently redesigned interiors, a chef-ready kitchen, a spectacular master suite, and breathtaking views, offering a complete and authentic beach experience. Welcome to the charm of old Costa Rica, thoughtfully updated to cater to today's modern tastes. Welcome to paradise. Welcome to your Costa Rican getaway.

>> Book Now <<

Looking for More Places to Stay & Things to Do in Costa Rica for New Year’s?

At Stay in Tamarindo, we really are different. We really do care about you. We really will go the extra mile. And private wedding and event venues are our specialty.

We’re going to work hard for you. We’re going to follow up with you. And we’re going to do everything we can, to ensure that this is not just your Best Vacation Ever, but also Everything You Want It to Be.

Because that is what we mean, when we talk about our quality of service: We want to transform the way you travel and celebrate. We want to deliver the best everything you’ve ever experienced – including the best value. And we want you to go home completely fulfilled, whether you came to relax for a week straight or have packed your days full of every adrenaline-soaked, high-adventure activity you could fit in.

So go ahead, give us a try. Embrace the experience. Live your best life. And now, ask us to help you plan unforgettable Costa Rica holidays and traditions. It all starts with getting in touch with our concierge!

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