What are the Fiestas de Zapote? Learn more about this end of the year tradition so important for Costa Ricans.

The Festejos Populares de Zapote, or Zapote Festivities and Fiestas de San José, are a traditional popular festivities in Costa Rica.

These festivities take place in the last week of December and the first week of January, in Zapote, San José. They coincide with the Palmares Festivities in the vacation period and in being very popular celebrations.

History of the Festivities

The festivities have been held since 1846 to celebrate the end of the year.

In fact, these were born almost with the independence in 1824, since a law decreed the realization of patron saint celebrations in the 4 main cities: Cartago (the capital at that time), San José, Alajuela and Heredia. Something curious is that in the case of San José, the festivities were to be held in honor of Joseph of Nazareth on March 19. This is how the authorities decided to move the fair to the month of December and celebrate the end of the year at the same time.

What are the Zapote Festivities? Learn more about this end of the year tradition so important for Costa Ricans.
Source: Mi Costa Rica de antaño

Thus, in December 1846, the first “Turno de San José” was held in the Central Park. Years later, in 1890, the celebrations were moved to Morazán and Nacional Parks. Then, in 1936, the “Festejos Cívicos” were held in La Sabana and in the old bullring, La Solera, in Paseo Colón; here the tradition of choosing a queen of the festivities was born.

The celebrations moved to the Plaza Gonzalez Viquez, where there were extensive runs through the Paseo de los Estudiantes until reaching the traffic circle of the fairgrounds. And finally, in 1969, due to the growth of the festivities, the celebrations began to take place in the small square of Zapote.


There are several activities in the Zapote Festivities, the main ones are:

  • Drinking, food and gambling
  • Bars
  • Mechanical games such as roller coasters, carousels, bumper cars, etc.
  • Tico-style “bullfights”, which are broadcast on national television.

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