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2011 Halloween in Costa Rica

In most Costa Rican homes, October 31 has never been a day for costumes and candy. A North American import, Halloween's pagan roots clash with the nation's Catholic traditions, and the holiday's consumerist slant is not a staple of most local celebrations. However, as American culture and entertainment have grown increasingly popular, Halloween's lighthearted fun has gained in popularity. 

Historically, Latin America's celebrations have focused on the Catholic All Saint's Day (November 1) and All Soul's Day (November 2) – known in Mexico and abroad as the Dia de los Muertos – both days for honoring the dead. In Costa Rica, the Day of the Dead may entail decorating loved ones' graves with flowers or palm fronds, and presenting offerings to give thanks for the saints' blessings. Devout Catholics may also attend mass to pray for the dead and ask for the continued health of the living.

In 1996, Costa Rica inaugurated October 31 as the National Day of the Costa Rican Masquerade. The country's traditional parades, which feature larger-than-life masked figures, are a long-held Costa Rican custom – and one that was in danger of dying out. Over the last 15 years, mascaradas have seen a resurgence in popularity, and many towns and cities throughout the country will celebrate October 31 as a hybrid blend of Costa Rican tradition and North American Halloween.

If you're in search of American-style Halloween celebrations, look to expat-heavy neighborhoods, where many communities organize trick-or-treating for the younger set. These festivities include all the traditional trappings – big bowls of candy, skeleton-and-tombstone decorated lawns, and spooky music. We celebrate every year in a small gated community where the children, most of whom have never celebrated Halloween in the United States, forgo the traditional "trick or treat!" greeting for a joyous "Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!" 

Costa Rica's bars and nightclubs also get into the Halloween spirit, hosting costume parties, competitions and other themed fun. San Pedro, an eastern suburb of San Jose, is even home to the Mansion del Horror, Costa Rica's only haunted house. For just 1,500 CRC (about $3), you'll scream with fear at the attraction's intricate chambers of terror, each of which is based on a popular horror movie. The Mansion del Horror is located across from the Outlet Mall, just a few blocks east of the San Pedro Mall. Some other celebrations: 

Halloween Gone Wild

  • What: Halloween party, costume contest, live music
  • When: October 27, 2011, 7:30 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
  • Where: Campo Ayala, Paraiso, Cartago
  • Cost: 3,000 CRC (One-hour Open Bar)
  • Contact: 8320-5227

Midnight Evil Absolute Horror: Taste of Halloween

  • What: Halloween-themed live music
  • When: October 28, 2011, 7:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
  • Where: Casa Rock, Heredia
  • Cost: Free entrance
  • Contact: 2262-2564

Trick or Treat @ Tao

  • What: Halloween circus, costume competition, surprises
  • When: October 29, 2011, 8:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
  • Where: Tao San Pedro 
  • Cost: 3,000 CRC (5,000 without a costume)
  • Contact: 2225-5696 or 8704-6169

Halloween Party – Grecia 2011

  • What: Laser lights show, blackout, costume competition, music
  • When: October 29, 2011, 8:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
  • Where: Bar Dublin
  • Cost: Free entrance
  • Contact: 2494-4293 

Halloween Horror Night

  • What: Themed rooms (House of 1000 Corpses, The Thing Assimilation, La Llorona, Maze Of Terror), DJ, costume competition
  • When: October 29, 2011, 7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
  • Where: Club Bungalow, Heredia
  • Cost: 5,000 CRC or 10,000 CRC (VIP)
  • Contact: 8721-5800

Pleasures of a Murderer

  • What: Costume party and prizes
  • When: October 29, 2011, 5:30 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
  • Where: Acid Bar, San Jose 
  • Cost: 1,500 CRC
  • Contact: 2241-7635

2011 Halloween in Costa Rica in Pictures