Your Family Vacation During Christmas in Costa Rica

Christmas in Costa Rica is a magical season of music, lights, merriment, and holy traditions. As a mostly Roman Catholic country, Christmastime in Costa Rica is spared from a lot of holiday commercialism in lieu of the more sacred principles of the season. And while they may take the midnight mass a bit more seriously than many other parts of the globe, they still know how to celebrate “Pura Vida” style!

The Christmas season is a great time to visit Costa Rica, with light parades, family beach vacations, and lots of fireworks! Costa Ricans do not wait until New Year’s Eve to set off their fireworks. They will celebrate with a light show on the beach at any time during the holiday season. Lighting up the season is an important part of Costa Rican Christmas tradition.

Light Parades

Every large community will have a light parade of its own, beginning with the ultimate light parade, which takes place in San Jose every year on the second week of December. The popular beach town of Playas del Coco holds a large light parade as well, with bands traveling from around the country to attend the Festival Navideño.

You will discover that most houses and businesses will be lit up for Christmas as well. People in Costa Rica will decorate their porches with strings of lights and have a decorated Christmas tree indoors.

Nativity Scene

While the Christmas tree is a popular way to decorate the Costa Rican home, the true centerpiece of any Costa Rican Christmas decorating is the nativity scene, which they call the portal. These elaborate displays are often found under the Christmas tree or set up on a table, decorated with colorful sand, local greenery, and surrounded with lights. Baby Jesus is not added to the portal until Christmas Day.

Churches and towns sometimes have life-sized portals on display for everyone to enjoy.

Christmas Eve

While Christmas Day is usually the big celebration of the season in North America, that is not always the case in Costa Rica. It is Christmas Eve that brings the family together for a big sit-down meal, usually over a pork roast (pierna de cerdo). This is also the ideal time to break out the tamales, which are carefully crafted in the weeks leading up to Christmas, often by the hundreds!

The Christmas Eve meal is served late in the evening, either before or after attending the Midnight Mass, which they call Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster).

Costa Rican children would traditionally leave their shoes out for Niño Dios (Baby Jesus) to fill with gifts, however, this tradition is being replaced more and more by stockings and Santa Claus, which they call San Nicolás or Colacho.

Christmas Day will likely be spent with family at the beach, where they cook up carne asada over travel barbeques and even makeshift grills. It is busy time for the beach, however, the atmosphere is festive as they enjoy their biggest Costa Rica family vacation of the year.

New Years Eve

If your family couldn’t be together on Christmas Eve for the traditional pork roast, they will likely be getting together on New Year’s Eve, which is another important day for family gatherings in Costa Rica. There are big fireworks displays held after sunset, especially at the beach, with a grand display held at Tamarindo Beach each year.

Costa Rica Family Vacations

The holiday season is a wonderful time to travel to Costa Rica for your family vacation. There are special events like parades, festivals, and fiestas held during the holidays. Fiestas are like rodeos with plenty of food, entertainment, and fun to be had by the whole family. This is also the time when topes (horse parades) take place, with the big event featuring 3,000 horses happening in downtown San Jose on December 26. The rest of the country soon follows suit with their own topes and fiestas.

Costa Rica is a great place to get away from the consumerism and commercialism that prevails in much of North America around Christmastime. Imagine being surrounded by your family in a luxury rental villa, enjoying everything a Costa Rica vacation villa has to offer!

At Pura Vida House, we strive to give you the best family vacation in Costa Rica. Our 24/7 concierge services can provide you with everything you want out of your stay. Want to take the kids on an epic white-water rafting experience? You got it. Looking to relax in the natural hot springs of a volcano? No problem. Want to lay on the beach while the kids take surfing lessons? We got you!

Check out more tours and activities offered at Pura Vida House luxury villas.

There are plenty of things to keep the kids busy and keep you relaxed during your stay at our Costa Rica luxury rental. Pura Vida House is a four or six-bedroom villa with cleaning and laundry services, a private chef, covered outdoor dining space, golf carts, mountain bikes, a private pool, and luxurious and private outdoor showers – talk about a vacation!

Our luxury villas in Costa Rica are located within the private residence of Hacienda Pinilla Resort, where you and your family have access to all of the amenities, including tennis and pickleball courts, trails, surfing lessons, horseback rides, an 18-hole golf course, and the Beach Club.

The Beach Club features a restaurant, tiki bars, an ocean-view gym, yoga classes, and a massive infinity pool looking right over the beach. The resort also gives you and your family easy access to three secluded Costa Rican beaches.

As guests of Pura Vida House, you and your family will even have access to eight different bars and restaurants at the nearby JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa.

As one of the top luxury villas in Costa Rica with access to two resorts, an on-site private chef, and 24/7 personal concierge services, your family vacation in Costa Rica will be a true getaway for the kids as well as for mom and dad!

If you are considering a Costa Rica family vacation and would like to know more about Pura Vida House, please contact us at (614) 600-1904 or We can’t wait to see you. Happy Holidays!

Blog by: Jennifer LaCharite – Costa Consultants, International

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