Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July's Virgin of the Sea Festival in Puntarenas

This past weekend I was able to attend the Virgin of the Sea Festival in Puntarenas.  Each year in July, boats adorned with flowers and colorful streamers commemorate the day when a group of fishermen, were rescued just after calling upon the Virgin del Carmen for help. The festival features all kinds of recreational activities for kids and grownups alike, all along the famous Paseo de las Turistas area in Puntarenas.

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 Miramar, 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.

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

1 comment:

Feli said...

I love your pictures, I want to sip coconut water too!

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