San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Year’s Festivities Planned Across Country

If you’re in Costa Rica at year’s end, during one of the country’s busiest tourist weeks, get ready for bottomless buffets, tropical cocktails, champagne fizz, hip-shaking live Latino sounds, fireworks, carnival masks, necklaces and processions – or stay home.

From the Central Valley to the Pacific coast, you will be within striking distance of all-evening events that will strive to make this New Year’s Eve one to remember.

In downtown San José, enjoy a dinner buffet, dance to the Banda Chiqui Chiqui and crack up at Nel López’s comic show at the Aurola Holiday Inn (2253-1000). The price is $75 per person or $40 per child, tax included.

Rest up and recover by spending the night and checking out late – 4 p.m. – for $49.99 per person, breakfast included.

At the Barceló San José Palacio (2220-2034) in the western La Uruca district, the buffet begins at 9 p.m. to the smooth sounds of Charlie Rivero and Son del Pueblo. At 11:15, the evening heats up as Requete takes center stage. Receive the new year with a carnival procession, complete with cimarronas a la tica, a Tico tradition where costumed partygoers dance to live, trumpeted music. Requete takes over again until 3 a.m. The price is ¢40,000 (about $73), including dinner.

The Real InterContinental hotel (2208-2122) in the western suburb of Escazú will supply carnival garb – hats, whistles and necklaces – so guests can get decked out and toast the new year with a glass of sparkler and 12 grapes to be eaten at midnight, according to local custom. The cost is ¢59,000 ($107), dinner and grapes included.

It will be a white New Year’s at White House Hotel (2288-6362), whose location in the hills of San Antonio de Escazú affords a great view of Central Valley fireworks. Partygoers are encouraged to dress all in white for the five-course dinner, champagne, party favors, music and dancing. The per-person price is $100.

Or, follow the josefinos – the San José residents – to the beach, where the seaside atmosphere and hoards of vacationers promise to animate the nighttime festivities.

In Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, watch the fireworks from the fourth-floor, beachfront terrace of Canciones del Mar (2643-3273) while grooving to the tropical music of Grof y Grof. The evening will include an appetizer, main plate and dessert, for a price to be determined.

Just north of Jacó, in Playa Herradura, treat yourself to sashimi, hot and sour shrimp soup, tempura, green curry chicken and a smorgasbord of other Asian delicacies at the ultra-swank Los Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort (2630-9013). Fireworks and live music will cap off the night. The price per person is $230.

In Playa Hermosa, south of Jacó, party on the beach to live local rock music, a bonfire and a pork roast. The Backyard Bar of the Backyard Hotel (2643-7011) will host the event cover-free, but expect to pay $20 for dinner and another $20 for a bottle of bubbly to toast the countdown to midnight.

Head south down the coast to Quepos, where El Gran Escape (2777-0765) will be hosting its eighth annual Mardi Gras-infused New Year’s Eve bash. Enjoy the seafood extravaganza and dessert buffets, midnight champagne toast and comparsa music for $50 a person. Fireworks will go off at midnight, and the thousands in the streets will party till dawn.

On the northern Pacific coast, Hotel Tamarindo Diria (2653-0031) in Tamarindo will celebrate in its beachfront tropical gardens with a gala buffet made up of carving and seafood stations. Vino Tinto will play Latin rhythms into 2009. Adults pay $120; kids are half off.

Just north, the Luis Castillo guitar and violin duo will serenade gourmet buffet diners at Villa del Sueño Restaurant (2672-0026) in Playa Hermosa. A mobile disco will transition diners to the dance floor. The price is $75 per person, all-inclusive.

Bars and discos in every tourist town will be blowing up, so if reservations and fixed prices aren’t your thing, leave the night open to spontaneity. Enjoy responsibly!


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