Fiesta means party in Spanish, and it is also the name for the lively celebrations of Guanacaste culture that take place each year at the height of summer. Bearing some resemblance to the carnivals of yore, they are replete with rides, bumper cars, games of skill and chance, an array of local dishes, and of course, the rodeo.
Brave riders mount bulls whose names are the stuff of legend, in hopes the beast’s greatness will stay with them long after they dismount – and safely, runs the prayer. The charging beasts leap into the makeshift wooden ring surrounded and topped with eager spectators, and those hardy souls who would taunt the bull on foot, diving to safety between the legs of onlookers or climbing high to escape the menacing horns. Amidst them all darts El Cañero, a veteran of the ring who daringly brandishes his red cape to lead the bull in a graceful dance of thrust and parry.
The fiestas move from town to town, each vying to outdo their neighbours: some with concerts and dances, some with splendid topes (cavalcades) of prancing horses, others by securing the most fearsome bulls to run a ring. It’s a heady, colorful concentration of the elements that make up Guanacaste’s truest heritage, and it’s a party not to be missed.