The Annexation of Guanacaste is celebrated on July 25th where commemorates the annexation of the province of Guanacaste from Nicaragua in 1824 and celebrates Costa Rica’s core value of democracy. Guanacaste is one of the seven provinces of Costa Rica, covering the northwest region of the country. The coastal area of Guanacaste is often referred to as the “Gold Coast” because of its magnificent and world-renowned beaches.

By a confusion of terms some believe that the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste belonged to Nicaragua at sometime, but the truth is that the so-called Partido de Nicoya was always an independent territory.

The real History:

The meaning of the name of the celebration Annexation of Guanacaste Day is self-explanatory. This celebration occurs and originated in Liberia, which is the capital of the Guanacaste province. For  the year of 1800 Guanacaste was named El Partido de Nicoya , a province that belong to Spain , and Cortes of Cadiz in Spain .  In 1820, Nicaragua and Costa Rica were divided into seven parts: Costa Rica, El Realejo, Granada, León, Nicaragua (Rivas), El Partido de Nicoya and Nueva Segovia.

In 1824, three years after Nicaragua and Costa Rica declared independence from Spain, the township of Nicoya chose to annex to Costa Rica because of their close economic ties, and was followed by Guanacaste because Nicaragua, with which it was economically more identified, was plunged into civil war whose effects never reached to Nicoya. The short-lived Central American Federation ratified the changes in 1826, and after several failed border treaty attempts those limits were established in the Cañas-Jerez treaty of 1858. Nicaragua continued to protest the treaty’s validity, however, until it agreed to submit the issue to US arbitration. Once a few points of interpretation were cleaned up, President Grover Cleveland recognized its validity in 1888. At that time, Partido de Nicoya had three populations: Nicoya, indigenous town, seat of the government and the towns of Santa Cruz and Guanacaste (Liberia), where lived spaniards and mestizos. Geographically, Nicoya and Santa Cruz  had strong economic ties with Costa Rica and the rising port of Puntarenas, in Guanacaste (Liberia) had strong ties to Nicaragua (Rivas).

 The fact that Nicaragua was active in many civil wars at the time increased Guanacaste’s desire to be annexed to Costa Rica . The Central American Federation approved the annexation and thus Guanacaste became part of Costa Rica by choice. Demonstrating their “Guanacaste” pride slogan, De la Patria por Nuestro Voluntad– “Of the Fatherland by our Will,” is the phrase that expresses the will to remain democratically attached to Costa Rica.

The celebrations:

The performance aspects of the celebration of Guanacaste Day consist of parades, folk dances and the playing of musical instruments, and bullfights.The parades mainly involve the children of the province. In the week leading up to July 25, all the schools, primary and secondary, have parades to the park at the center of town. The fact that children of this province are introduced to this celebration at a very young age demonstrates that this celebration is highly valued by Costa Rican society.

A biggest Costa Rican fiesta called Expo Liberia complemented with Municipality Activities is  highlighted by rodeos ( Tico and American Style), fireworks, Cimarronas, folkloric dances and music, parades, cattle shows, bullfights, concerts,  firecrackers (bombetas) and more traditions. Everybody is open invited to enjoy this celebration, many people from all Guanacaste and Costa Rica are ready to wear theirs cowboy boots and dance with Marimba music; traditional music typically played by an elderly quartet on an old xylophone, and watching costumed girls performing the Punto Guanacasteco, the region’s folkloric dance that has become the national dance, the highlights of the Dia de Guanacaste lie firmly in the region’s ranching background.

Riding  a horse in a parade  with the heat of noon will be a great experience. Each day of the Expo, the entertainment kicks off with a tope, a horse parade full of several criollo horses and sabaneros (Costa Rican’s cowboys) dressing their finest steeds, showing off high-stepping staccato footwork as they clippity-clop all the way through town holding a cool beer or local guaro to avoid the heat . Try to be sober, the heat will kill , don’t forget your Hat.

One of my favorite traditions in the celebration is the  Diana (live traditional music played at dawn in the streets) every day at 5:00 am.

Also You should not miss the traditional bullfighting called Toros  a la Tica or Corridas. No Fighting but doesn’t mean that you will not be hurt. This activity  will take a place in the arenas of Camilo Reyes , and it is completely different from the blood sport you find in Mexico and Spain ,there are no professional toreros. All the bullfighters are “improvisados” (amateurs) who run into the bull ring to taunt the bull with their jeers, jests, hands, etc., and then run like hell to avoid being horned by the bull. If you like to see an American Style

This year all activities and other public gatherings have been suspended Until Further Notice due to the COVID-19,  full of Local spirit, culture expression and music. Although Locals Municipalities were planning on holding a smalls concerts and virtual activities while maintaining strict safety protocols.

How Can you Celebrate this Holiday

If there is any place in Costa Rica to visit for an awesome cultural experience where is an undeniable sense of national pride present in the diverse culture that you’ll find in the province’s cities. Here you can celebrate the Annexation and know better this rich culture.

One of our recommendation is Visit Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands where you can enjoy An unforgettable cultural experience.

They will drive through back roads, sugar cane fields, local towns, see the locals digging up the sand used for the concrete… Next stop you will visit an elderly “Casona” a beautiful old house that belonged to 3 former presidents of Costa Rica… This venerable construction will tell the story of the Guanacaste cowboys or “sabaneros” who lived way before cars, cell phones or internet by the midst of the 1800s in a faraway era of colonial Costa Rica. You will then get in a covered motor boat through the Tempisque River and will cruise Palo Verde National Park looking for wildlife such as monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, all kind of exotic birds, bats. Enjoy of some of our most precious traditions such as the “oxoperated sugar mill” (trapiche) where they grind the cane with oxen. Freshly cane juice will be offered to you to taste.

Another way to experience Guanacaste Spirit is learn about Santa Cruz Town and its history . While being in Costa Rica,  you can go on extreme adventures, and on cultural experiences like visiting beautiful Santa Cruz. It is important to know a little about the history of the town you are visiting; you can actually head to the small town Guaitil , and there, you can witness the pottery that is made here. The craft is still practiced with the same ancient indigenous techniques.

Are you Ready for a real Culture Experience in Guanacaste ? Feel Free to Contact us to get FREE information about Awesome Things to do in Guanacaste.


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