In Spanish the Virgin of the Sea Festival is referred to as the Virgen del Mar or Virgen del Carmen parade. Virgen del Carmen is said to have saved a fleet of boats (in the 1920's) from an impending storm after one of the men prayed to her asking for help and promising to hold an annual festival in her honor if she helped them. The men were saved, and to this day the celebration is faithfully held. This year there may have been around 50 boats in the boat procession (see 1st pic below).
Along with the boat procession, which started at about 10a.m., the Virgin of the Sea Festival also includes amusement rides, food vendors, beachgoers, campers, and strangely enough, this year it also included a long procession of castrated bulls pulling traditional oxcarts. These bulls and their owners arrived by foot from the town of
, a walk that started at 3a.m. that morning arriving to the beach area a little after noon! The people of Miramar used to celebrate their own festival to the Virgen del Carmen, but they decided to combine it with the Virgin's boat celebration in Puntarenas, at least for 2011. The castrated bulls, which are used for towing and plowing, were walked to a central square where they were then blessed by the local Catholic priest to ensure their health and strength for the coming year. Miramar
I had a great time at the Virgin of the Sea Festival in Puntarenas. There were throngs of people, both locals and tourists alike. Hotels are always booked to capacity during festival time, but it's probably easy enough to drive in to Puntarenas for the day since entry is free, and you can find plenty of parking on the side streets within easy walking distance to the beach and the promenade.
|Boat Procession at the Virgin of the Sea Festival|
|Amusement Rides at the Virgin of the Sea Festival|
|Beachgoers enjoying the Virgin of the Sea Festival|
|Campers and Crowds at the Festival|
|My boyfriend and his mom enjoying fresh coconut water at the Festival|
|Part of the Bulls and Carts Procession at the Virgin of the Sea Festival|