Major Christmas season events begin this Thursday

A spectacular parade, a magnificently decorated Christmas tree and a two-day inauguration of a nativity scene are separate signature events of the the holiday season in San José. They are right around the corner and approaching faster than Santa’s sleigh pulled by a team of reindeer.

Thursday in the Plaza de la Cultura at 6 p.m. the Teatro Nacional will host the first of two days of choral performances. In all, nine choruses are scheduled to perform on a stage set up north of the theater in downtown San José. Thursday five groups will perform. And Friday four more are scheduled.

The inauguration of the portal or nativity scene will be accompanied by a traditional posada or procession.

Also Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. activities begin in advance of the lighting of the large Christmas tree at the Hospital National de Niños. The activities will include clown shows and musical performances.

The tradition of lighting the Christmas tree started in 1964 when the hospital was inaugurated and has been a staple Christmas event since. The tree, which continues to grow each year, will be illuminated with thousands of bulbs at 6 p.m. But only the first 1,000 people can enter the area so it may be a good idea to arrive early. The location is just south of Avenida 2 and west of Hospital San Juan de Dios.

The Festival de la Luz or parade of lights in San José is Dec. 10. That is a Saturday. This is the event that brings perhaps a million persons to the streets to witness the elaborate floats and many bands. Some two million more are estimated to watch the event on television.

The parade route is the same as other years: north from Parque la Sabana on Paseo Colón and then to Avenida Secunda. Some 14 floats are scheduled to be in the parade, including submissions from two new cell telephone companies. This is the 16th edition of the Christmas parade.

Since 2005, the Municipalidad de San José has presented a pre-parade event, a pasacalle, near the start of the parade route. This year that begins at 4 p.m. And will feature clowns, music and acrobats. The parade begins at 6 p.m.

Being honored this year are seven painters and sculptors, who will be the grand marshals. They are Rafael Fernández, Isidro Con Wong, Lola Fernández, Rafael “Felo” García, all painters, and José Sancho, Crisanto Badilla and Néstor Zeledón, sculptors.

Previous grand marshals have ranged from Franklin Chang Díaz, the U.S.-Costa Rican astronaut to the national soccer team.

Also beginning Thursday at the Teatro Nacional is the first performance of a scheduled 12 of  ”The Nutcracker,” called “ Cascanueces” in Spanish. The ballet has international performers with participation from students at various ballet academies in Costa Rica. Tickets are available via the teacher Web page. The performances run through Dec. 11.

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