San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Juan Santamaría Day, a shrimp festival and other happenings in Costa Rica

Juan Santamaría Day

One hundred fifty-eight years ago, a young Costa Rican soldier named Juan Santamaría volunteered to singlehandedly attack a compound of slave-holding mercenaries. According to legend, Santamaría lost his life, but he managed to set the fortification on fire, turning the tide of the battle and resulting in Central America’s victory over invading filibusteros. To commemorate the spikey-haired martyr, Costa Ricans celebrate Juan Santamaría Day on April 11. There’s no better time to visit the city of Alajuela (the soldier’s birthplace), and see the famous statue, visit the Juan Santamaría Museum, and catch celebrations in the streets. Visitors can expect marching bands, re-enactors, and lots of vendors. Celebrating the nation’s one and only war hero, this holiday is a healthy dose of Tico patriotism.

Music: Astro

Chilean alt-rock band will rock La Sabana Park.

Astro plays April 12 in La Sabana. 3 p.m. Free. Info: FIA website.

Dance: “The Salt Giant”

Presented by the International Arts Festival (FIA), this theatrical fable is performed in the Japanese “butoh” style, created by French choreographer Frederic Herrera.

“El Gigante de Sal” performs April 13 at the Cenac Dance Theater, San José. 5 p.m. General admission ₡4,000 ($8), students ₡2,500 ($5). Info: FIA website.

La Carpa Circus

A FIA centerpiece, the La Carpa Circus continues its fun-filled performances in La Sabana.

La Carpa Circo takes place April 11 and 12 in La Sabana Park. 2 p.m. Free. Info: FIA website.

Music: Bernal Chaves and the Banda Fantasma

Funk master Bernal Chaves performs at FIA with his band, Banda Fantasma.

La Banda Fantasma plays April 12 at the Spanish Cultural Center, Sabana. 6 p.m. Free. Info: FIA website.

Music: Shiraz Rahavarde-Persian

Frequently called a “postmodern folk band,” Shiraz Rahavarde-Persian reinterprets the traditional music of Iran.

Shiraz Rahavarde-Persian plays April 12 at the Antigua Aduana, Barrio Aranjuez. 8 p.m. Free. Info: FIA website.

Shrimp and Fish Festival

Nothing goes better with seafood than more seafood. The Shrimp and Fish Fair (FERIMAR) is just as delicious as it sounds, and it takes place a stone’s throw from the sea.

FERIMAR takes place April 11 and 12 in Barrio El Carmen, Puntarenas. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free. Info: 2232-0639.

Film: “Puerto Padre”

This 2013 Costa Rican film is a pensive drama about family and relationships. See why the film won so many accolades for writer-director Gustavo Fallas.

“Puerto Padre” will be screened April 11 at the Cenac amphitheater, Barrio Amón. 8 p.m. Free. Info: FIA website.

Dance: “Efímero”

Choreographers Reinier Martínez and Scarleth Izquierdo present their duet performance at FIA.

“Efímero” takes place April 11 at Atlantic Station, Barrio Aranjuez. 5:30 p.m. Free. Info: FIA website.

Squash Festival

Pies, appetizers, entrees, jams – what can’t you make with squash? This festival celebrates this tasty gourd and all its culinary possibilities.

La Fería Nacional del Chiverre takes place April 10-14 at the Lake Alfaro Ruíz Sports Plaza, Zarcero, Alajuela. Free.

Enamorate de tu ciudad

Yes, you can get gaga for San José – especially when the Culture Ministry is sponsoring Enamorate de tu ciudad, or Fall in Love With Your City, a year-long celebration of art, culture and urban parks. Check back for games, workshops, presentations and surprise performances.

Fall in Love with Your City takes place on Saturdays in various parks in downtown San José. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Info: Enamorate de tu Ciudad website.

Theater: “The House of the Spirits”

Final weekend! Teatro Espressivo presents a theatrical adaptation of Isabel Allende’s classic novel, “The House of the Spirits.” This epic magic-realist story receives an inventive adaptation by Caridad Svich.

“The House of the Spirits” continues through April 13 at Teatro Espressivo, Curridabat. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. 8,000-15,000 ($16-30). Info: Performance website.

Contact Robert Isenberg at

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