San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Palmares Parties On With Music Festival

The tents have been folded up and the carnival departed, but the party is not over in Palmares.

The Fiestas Palmares have come and gone, but next month the coffee town 45 minutes northwest of San José will host the first Palmares International Music Festival.

Set for March 14 and 15, the festival will mark the 10th anniversary of the Madre Verde Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to conservation and education regarding the western Central Valley forests.

“We wanted to have a new, two-day festival to raise awareness of the environment and also present a different cultural experience in Palmares,” said Sonia Chaves, president of the Madre Verde Foundation.

Headlining the festival are U.S. jazz vocalist Luba Mason, the wife of musician, actor and Panamanian Tourism Minister Rubén Blades; Nicaraguan singer Katia Cardenal; and popular Costa Rican acts Manuel Obregón and Malpaís.

Pianist Obregón will kick off the concert Saturday at 8 p.m., accompanied by members of Malpaís, with Cardenal taking the stage later that night. Sunday’s shows begin with Mason, at 6 p.m., followed by Malpaís to close the festival. Several local acts will also be added to the ticket soon, organizers said.

The festival, which will take place in the Palmares bullring, will also feature food and artwork in the fairgrounds during the day.

An art project by a local university student will convert the fairgrounds to look like an aquarium, said Alberto González, an educator on the foundation’s cultural committee.

“It’s going to be very special,” González said, “and remind us of the importance of conserving water and keeping the oceans clean.”

González said the festival would be a unique addition to the Palmares scene and expressed hope that it will become an annual event.

“Our two events last year were full of people, so we wanted to do something even bigger,” he said.

Tickets are ¢10,000 ($18) or ¢5,000 ($9), depending on seat location, and are available at all Vértigo music stores. Proceeds will benefit the foundation’s education efforts. For more information, visit


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