Costa Rica’s independence day is on September 15 and it’s the most important cultural holiday in the country. In Costa Rica, they commemorate this important day starting on the 14th with parties, parades, food and music.
If you happen to visit Costa Rica during these days, you’ll be able to see and experience a very important holiday and cultural event in the country. On September 14, they begin celebrations with the lantern parade.
September 14 Lantern Parade (Desfile Farola)
On the night of Sept. 14th is a traditional lantern parade to symbolize what one woman did for the independence of Central America. Back on September 14, 1821, news of independence from Spain broke out. And a woman named Dolores Bedoya shared the exciting news running through the streets with a lantern.
Since the declaration had to go all the way to Panama, now in the 21st century, they have a tradition of running a torch from Guatemala to Panama every year. This run is to symbolize the announcement of independence in Central America.
To celebrate this significant act, all the kids make their own homemade lanterns with the Costa Rican flag, animals and other shapes. On the night of the 14th, they parade around town, singing the national anthem and lightning up their lanterns.
Parade in Liberia
In Liberia there is a big parade on the morning of the 15th and in San Jose, an even bigger parade. All the kids in school, from kindergarten through high school perform dances, play instruments and show off their costumes to commemorate this meaningful holiday. Many of them wear traditional clothing and are dressed in red, blue and white.
We went to the parade and saw some adorable kids dancing, drumming and cheering. They closed down the main street in Liberia for a couple hours for the parade in the morning. It’s a big celebration and a big deal for the kids as they practice their instruments and practice marching band for many weeks.
Costa Rica Independence Day Parade Video
We made a fun video of the Liberia Independence Day parade. Although this was back in 2013, it is always the same event with dancing and music down the streets. Check it out!
What to Know If You Are in Costa Rica September 14 or 15
If you happen to visit Costa Rica on the 14th or 15th, there will be lots of traffic. They close the streets for the lantern parade the night of the 14th and on the 15th in the mornings, they close the streets for the rest of the celebrations.
If you are landing at the airport or planning to drive from one destination to another, try to go in the afternoon of the 15th or early in the day on the 14th to avoid delays, road closures and traffic.
We also recommend to use the Waze app to help you navigate through San Jose traffic if you do have to drive on the 14th at night or 15th in the morning.
The week before the 15th, if you hear a lot of cars honking and sirens on the road, the runners of the lantern may be close!