Although Costa Rica may be best known for its green forests, blue oceans, and orange sunsets, its art community draws from a whole palette of colors to create one of the most vibrant scenes in Central America. Due to its relative affluence in comparison to its neighbors, Costa Rica has an ever-growing group of students, professional artists, and others with a creative bent that are dedicated full- or part-time to expressing themselves through art. It also has an active Ministry of Culture, which sponsors classes, festivals, organizations, and more, as it fulfills the vision of former Costa Rican president Jose Figueres Ferrer, who asked, “Why have tractors without violins? (¿Para qué tractores sin violines?)”
With this activity comes a variety of events for art lovers, both those visiting the country for a short time and those who live there. Here are some of our favorites.
Arts Festival (Festival de las Artes)
Where: Rotates annually
When: Changes annually; usually April
The Festival de las Artes is the largest artistic event in Costa Rica, as well as one of the most important in Latin America. Spanning two weeks and hundreds of cultural activities, it is an amazing – and free – experience, perfect for sharing with children and arts lovers. One of the most unique aspects of the festival is that its location rotates in an effort to ensure that citizens of all regions have access to culture. In 2017, the Arts Festival will be in San José from June 27 to July 10.
Art City Tour
Where: San José
When: Approximately one night a month
Art City Tour gives locals and visitors the opportunity to visit San José’s many museums and cultural centers for free. The tour also provides transportation, allowing for a safe, stress-free evening enjoying cultural presentations and learning more about the contemporary arts scene in Costa Rica. Check out the website of the organizer, local event guide GAM Cultural, for upcoming dates – it’s worth making a stop in San José if your trip coincides.
International Book Fair (Feria Internacional del Libro)
Where: San José
Organized by the Costa Rican Chamber of Books, Costa Rica’s International Book Festival in in its eighteenth year and is still going strong. The two-week event brings together bookstores, publishing houses, authors, and others, providing book lovers with the unique chance to participate in workshops, meet authors, attend plays, listen to poetry readings, and generally dive into the world of literature. Each year, the festival invites a guest country, allowing for more opportunities for cultural exchange.
Where: San José
When: Annually, usually March
Similar to the Festival of the Artes, Transitarte has a plethora of free art and cultural activities, as well as open-air concerts with the best bands and orchestras in the country. Uniquely, it offers all of this in the heart of the much-maligned capital city, turning San José’s busy streets into magical cultural oases – at least for a weekend!
Rob Harper is the Director of Business Development for Namu Travel Group.