After they were canceled last year due to the pandemic, one of Costa Rica’s most-popular year-end events will occur this December. Costa Rican-style bullfights will return to Zapote, San José, the city’s mayor announced Tuesday morning.
“We have reached an agreement with the Ministry of Health so that this year the traditional bullfights with the public can be held, respecting a capacity of 30% of the capacity of the Zapote ring,” Johnny Araya posted on Facebook.
“In the coming days, we will be working to coordinate the operational plans and health protocols that allow us to guarantee the safety and order of this long-awaited event by Costa Ricans.”
Those health protocols will almost certainly include mandatory vaccination for attendees, corresponding with with Costa Rica’s upcoming mandate that takes effect December 1.
Costa Rica celebrated a subdued end of 2020. Last year, the Municipality of San José canceled the tope (a horse parade through the city), the festejos populares (which include an amusement park and the bullfights) and Festival de la Luz (a colorful parade of floats).
The bullfights are typically held annually between December 25 and January 5. In addition to the thousands who attend in-person at the Zapote fairgrounds, the events are broadcast on national TV.
“Toros a la tica” welcomes any adult with an insurance policy to enter the ring, where they run (or hide) from the bull, provoke it, and compete in challenges — sometimes for money, but mostly for glor, adrenaline and 15 minutes of fame.
In Costa Rica, it is forbidden to kill the bull in the bullfights. Instead, the public celebrates when the animal attacks one of the improvisados.
In parallel to the passion that the tradition awakens, activists maintain that the events are harmful for the animals’ health.