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A Costa Rican Celebration...This is Fiesta Palmares!

So, have you heard of Fiesta Palmares?

As my friend Joe kept saying... it's one of *if not the* biggest celebrations, in all of Costa Rica.

Kicking off each January... this grand-scale festival boasts a number of lively events - attracting over a million visitors, both nationally and abroad...

Fiesta Palmares
One of Costa Rica's Biggest Celebrations!

There's the Gran Tope (say it like 'Toe Pay')... a parade of some 3000+ horses (and riders)...

...a full-on rodeo at the Plaza de Toros - where only the bravest come face-to-face with some of the fiercest bulls around...

Palmares Comparsa Latin Sound
Comparsa Latin Sound Performers

And of course - one of the most anticipated Fiesta happenings of all...

...the colorful extravaganza, in music and dance - that is Carnaval.

No way around it - Fiesta Palmares is an experience one-of-a-kind here in Costa Rica.

And on this page of the site - in words and photograph... please come along for the read - a closer look at one of the most popular celebrations on the Rich Coast!

La Asociación Cívica Palmareña

Two weeks long, commencing on Wednesday, January 11th... so began again - one of the country's biggest celebrations of the year.

Palmares ACP Logo
La Asociación Cívica Palmareña

Earlier on - I had the chance to meet up with journalist Bertha Silva - a member of La Asociación Cívica Palmareña (ACP)...

...the organization behind Fiesta Palmares.

As she explained, ACP - composed of various committees, each tackling a different sector - those like education, culture, economy, tourism, and health...

...was founded back in 1986.

The organization's prime focus, is to raise funds - an effort to help with development in the community.

Palmares President
President of ACP (Right) - Enjoying the Festivities at Carnaval

And over the years - it's certainly come a long way!

They've helped to acquire and donate land, making possible - the infrastructure for brand new schools in the Palmares Canton (Canton meaning 'County' in English), as well as the awarding of scholarships to students.

Palmares Bertha Silva
With Bertha Silva of ACP

And they've also played a key role, in such things as supporting the Special Olympics...

...helping to promote drug prevention...

... and even taking an active stance to encourage recycling in the area...

*Just to name a few!

Coming back to Fiesta Palmares - 25 years strong here in Costa Rica...

It's large-scale events like it, organized by La Asociación Cívica Palmareña, that create the opportunity - for people across the country, to unite in celebration.

Something that in turn, helps to make the community a better place.


Well next then, please read on... a firsthand look at some of the many lively events during Fiesta Palmares...

This is Fiesta Palmares!

An event like this one - so much to take in - every step of the way... it's something definitely best described in photograph.

Here's a firsthand look at Fiesta Palmers, 2012 - some commentary too along the way...

Palmares Carlos Edwin and Michael
Meeting People at Fiesta Palmares

Earlier on during the Fiesta - I was fortunate to meet some really nice people - those like Carlos and Edwin of ACP, seen in the blue shirts to the left...

And like Michael Rodriguez (right) - traffic police officer from San Ramon.

These are the people working behind the scenes, ensuring a fun and safe time for all - over the course of the two weeks.

Palmares Dancers
Carnaval Dancers, Warming Up Pre-Show

Just before Carnaval kicked off on the Friday...

I caught up with four of the performers on one of the biggest floats in the parade - a design that combined a giant red-eyed tree frog in the front... and a scarlet macaw on the back.

In the middle - was a stage, for dancers and musicians alike, to perform.

Palmares Mascarada
Mascarada Griega, a Whimsical Performance at Carnaval

Visiting backstage - in the stadium where performers were getting ready for Carnaval...

I met up with one of the teams behind the Mascarada portion of the event.

Pictured above - is team Quincho.

So much work goes into creating these neat-looking costumes.

Great job guys!

You can check out their Facebook Page here.

Palmares Kolbi Frog People
Dressed as Red-Eyed Tree Frogs

At times during Carnaval... it felt like Cirque du Soleil.

The costumes were just amazing.

Pictured top-left, some of the performers - decked out to look like red-eyed tree frogs (a popular theme at this year's Carnaval)...

...were all wearing skyrunners... enabling them to leap all over the streets - just like frogs!

Jovani Garo, Bull Fighter at Fiesta Palmares

On to the rodeo - and at one point... I met up with Jovani Garo - one of the best bull fighters in Palmares - and very likely - all of Costa Rica.

What a show he puts on for the fans!

Palmares Bull
Spectators Gather in the Arena

One thing that continues to blow my mind...

...is the part of the rodeo, where spectators - after jumping into the ring - make mad dashes across the arena... an attempt to get as close to the bull as possible without getting hurt.

On this particular night, a few people were chased, trampled - and even tossed up in the air by the bull's horns...

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

Palmares Bull Circle
Last One in the Circle (Minus the Bull)... Wins!

In one of the many games played during the rodeo -- chalk circles are drawn in the center of the plaza.

And the rules are quite simple...

With the exception of the very angry bull, raging about the stadium...

Last one remaining in the circle, wins!

Palmares Visitors
Visitors, Enjoying the Fun and Festivities

Walking around the Fiesta grounds at night - it was unbelievable just how many people there were... and shoulder to shoulder at that.

More than a million people attended this year's events.

Palmares Concert
Concert Underway, at the Main Fairgrounds

A reggaeton concert underway...

It's a style of music rooted in Puerto Rico... reggae blended with salsa, latin rap and a little electronica.

The venue was enormous. It was $16.00 to get in, which got you a giant liter-sized cup... along with five beer tickets.

Palmares Comparsa Latin Sound
Comparsa Latin Sound - Performing at Carnaval

Easily a highlight during Carnaval - was seeing the Comparsa Latin Sound crew, take to the streets of Palmares...

...an elaborate display of feathered costumes, whimsical characters, music, and dance.

What a fantastic performance!

...and an incredible experience overall - quite the enjoyable first-time visit, to Fiesta Palmares.

And so wraps up yet another exciting experience here on the Rich Coast. See you again soon - lots more to come at ThisisCostaRica.com!