What to Know About Palmares Festival
One of the biggest extravaganzas in Costa Rica, Festival Palmares is an agrarian fiesta with a fair amount of tomfoolery, bull fighting and a fantastic horse parade.
The Imperial tents will be set up. The drunk buses will be called in. One twentieth of the population will descend on the small southern town of Palmares for a wild rumpus, a good time and a Tope (horse parade). Palmares is considered to be one of the wilder, if not the most wild, fiestas in Costa Rica.
Pretty girls will parade down the streets of Palmares to catcalls from locals and possibly tourists alike. The horses will show their fancy footwork as the cabelleros direct them through the crowd filled streets. There is also an arena where you can try to go face to face with a 1,300+ pound bucking bull as a Torero Improvisado (Improvised Bullfighter). This, however, could prove fatal as it has for others that attempted to go against these large animals in the past.
In Costa Rican bullfights, the bulls are seldom injured, and are certainly not killed. People, on the other hand, are trampled, gorged and in general dispatched with a certain ease by the fuming giants. Toreros Improvisados are those deemed crazy (or drunk) enough to jump in the arena and dodge their charges. Plenty of people have walked away from the event intact, but the few that do get hit suffer bad injuries or worse.
Beyond the drinking and attempted self-sacrifice, the main event is the Tope or horse parade. These gallant steeds are brought through the town of Palmares with a large group of live musical ensembles hammering out beats and constructing melodies for the crowd. The horse parade of Palmares shows off the strong agrarian connection of Costa Rica, and the commitment that riders have made with their animals.
Palmares Festival is from January 14th, 2015 to January 26th, 2015.