Fun and free in Costa Rica: Día Nacional del Boyero (The Oxcart Parade)

Ilana Long | March 8, 2017
The vibrant oxcarts and stately oxen grace the streets on the second Sunday in March, on the annual Día del Boyero.

Multicolored carts line up on the streets outside the church in San Miguel de Escazú as the oxen that prepare to pull them stamp and snort. Real-life cowboys and cowgirls gear up for the parade up to San Antonio de Escazú. This is Costa Rica’s traditional showcase at its best. The Oxcart Parade on Sunday, March 12, is vibrant, festive and absolutely free.

Adora-bull. Ilana Long/The Tico Times

Local cow herders drive their oxen down from the surrounding hillsides or bring their livestock in trucks into Escazú to participate in this annual affair, coming from as far away as Cartago and Grecia. These are the same oxen they use to plant and sow the fields and farm the land.

Like papa, like son.
Like papa, like son. Ilana Long/The Tico Times

For the viewers who line the streets, this is a chance to get a glimpse at intricately painted carts made nearby in the mountain town of Sarchí. Be prepared to stand along the crowded sidewalks and enjoy the clanging and drumbeats of the marching bands and the larger-than-life, wildly dancing puppets that represent figures from local folklore.

Hey! Where's his hand?!
Hey! Where's his hand?! Ilana Long/The Tico Times

Each year, my kids and I marvel at the majestic, matched sets of oxen that team up to pull the carts. Men, women and children drive the colorful and detailed wooden carretas. My family and I march up the hill behind the parade, giving the bulls a wide berth and watching out for the land mines of cow pies.

Painted oxcart wheels spin like colorful pinwheels.
Painted oxcart wheels spin like colorful pinwheels. Ilana Long/The Tico Times

Inevitably, one of us ends up buying a cowboy hat off a street vendor and for a few minutes, we bask in the fantasy that we are all actually cowboys. Wear your plaid shirt to fit in.

Choosing the right cowboy hat is a must.
Choosing the right cowboy hat is a must. Ilana Long/The Tico Times

The parade begins at 9 a.m. near the San Miguel central park and continues until the cows come home.

My hubby Steve poses as a rootin' tootin' cowboy.
My hubby Steve poses as a rootin' tootin' cowboy. Ilana Long/The Tico Times

In this column, adventurer, author, teacher and parent Ilana Long explores fun things to do in Costa Rica that cost absolutely nada. Contact her at



  1. Great photos of this fun traditional event. Special to Ilana Long, please consider submitting the photos from this story to the Peace Corps International Calendar: Costa Rica has yet to have a photo in the calendar.

    Comment by D.W. Jefferson — March 9, 2017 @ 6:51 am

  2. Thanks so much, DW. My husband was Peace corp Thailand…sure would be cool to get a photo in the Calendar.

    Comment by Ilana — March 9, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

Leave a comment

classifieds news

Barceló Hotels & Resort

read more

8 Days free stay with us

Stay with us and park your car in our parking lot for a maximun...
read more

Exclusive Rates for Costa Rican Residents

Enjoy your vacations in San José with our exclusive rates for C.R
read more

Book early and Save!

When you book in advance, you can save up to 15% ....
read more


Including Costa Rican Breakfast Buffet for 2

Four Seasons Resort
read more

20% When you book at least 21 days early*

Book Early & Save
read more

Río Celeste and Tenorio National Park

Río Celeste is one of Costa Rica’s most spectacular sights — a river that is strangely sky-blue, or turquoise in ...
read more


Costa Rica has a well-developed tourism infrastructure, and you'll find great lodging at all kinds of price points throughout the ...
read more

Domestic Flights

Flying is far and away faster than driving. For example, if you're going to Puerto Jimenez or Golfito, you can ...
read more


It’s inexpensive and easy to get almost anywhere in Costa Rica using the public bus system; a trip to the ...
read more