San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

La Sabana Plays Host to International Arts Festival

With street theater from Mexico, aquatic theater from France, puppeteers from the U.S. city of New Orleans and pianists from Russia – just to name a few – the 10th International Festival of the Arts looks like it will live up to its name, and its reputation as Costa Rica’s largest and most important arts celebration.

This year’s festival, which kicks off today in western San José’s expansive La Sabana Park, heralds the selection of the Costa Rican capital city the Latin American-Iberian Cultural Capital for 2006.

With an expected attendance of 150,000-200,000 people, the biannual arts festival is more concentrated in one area than it was in 2004, spokeswoman Ana Beatriz Fernández said. Many performances and events will take place at La Sabana, including open-air concerts and art film screenings. Other attractions, such as art installations and theater performances, are spread out over various venues in San José, including the illustrious National Theater, the Mexico Institute and the CalderónGuardiaMuseum.

The festival will honor La Sabana Park for its historical importance as the country’s former international airport, and for its “contribution to the betterment of the urban population’s quality of life,” festival organizers said in a statement.

Something new this year will be an emphasis on sports; the festival will feature parachuting, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, biking, kites, remote-controlled airplanes and skateboarding, among others.

Organizers are also highlighting the recent reactivation of the train in San José (TT, Oct. 14, 2005), which makes a stop directly across from the south side of the park.

The festival will run through March 26. For a schedule of events, see the Calendar pages or visit the festival’s Web site at


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