Costa RicaCosta Rica

Music Scene in Costa Rica

Stroll through the streets and you’ll hear cumbia, 80’s beats, American Top 40, and Latin pop drifting out your neighbors’ windows – music is a staple of Costa Rican life. It comes as no surprise that local papers constantly announce visiting musicians, upcoming music festivals, and big name concerts scheduled for the coming months.

In Costa Rica, evenings out often include live music, whether you’re dancing to a Latin band or chilling at a local coffee house. San Jose’s major theaters – the National Theater, Melico Salazar Theater, and National Auditorium – host diverse programs, while classical music reigns at several cultural centers throughout the country. If you’re interested in local musicians or varied genres, visit the Jazz Cafe in Escazu or San Pedro; there’s live music every night, and local bands Malpais and Las Tortugas are frequent guests.

Music festivals are frequently held at outdoor venues such as the Guacima Autodrome, or the fair grounds at Palmares and Zapote. Both Latin and international groups appeal to Costa Rica’s passionate fans, and these festivals attract big stars. The 4th Annual Costa Rica Blues Festival, held in March, has five international acts and four Costa Rican blues bands on the schedule, with headliners Sonny Boy Terry and Jonn del Toro from Houston, Texas.

Every August, classical music lovers enjoy Costa Rica’s International Music Festival that invites talented musicians from around the world. The three-week festival offers concerts in venues across Costa Rica, including resorts and San Jose’s National Theater. The Festival Imperial, held in 2008 with hopes to return in future years, has hosted such headliners as Jamiroquai, Smashing Pumpkins, Incubus, and Duran Duran. In 2011, the two-week Palmares Festival welcomed Los Calzones Rotos, Dr. Krapula and reggaeton superstars Calle 13.

Solo concerts are also extremely popular, and Costa Ricans are willing to pay top dollar for the world’s hottest stars to perform in San Jose. Concerts generally run $40-$100+, depending on the location and seating options. Popular venues include the Saprissa Stadium, Alajuela Stadium, and soon, the National Stadium. Past musicians to make an appearance include Iron Maiden, Alejandro Sanz, Bon Jovi, Green Day, Megadeth, Marc Anthony, and Metallica.

Upcoming music events:

March 12: 4th Annual Costa Rica Blues Festival (La Campina Country Club, San Rafael de Montes de Oca)
April 2: Festival Internacional Pura Vida 2011 (La Guacima Race Track)
April 6: Motorhead (Zapote Fairgrounds)
April 10: Shakira (National Stadium-Inauguration)
April 16: International Ska Festival (Picachos Cartago)
April 20: Helloween (Peppers Club)

Major music events usually equal huge crowds and heavy traffic. Groups often organize shuttle buses to transport them to and from concerts and festivals. For a small fee (usually $5-$10 within the Central Valley), you won’t have to worry about finding parking or negotiating traffic, and you’ll be able to down a beer or two while listening to your favorite bands.

Music Scene in Costa Rica in Pictures