July 25th is the day Guanacaste commemorates its annexation from Nicaragua in 1824 to become a province of Costa Rica. The national holiday still has political as well as cultural significance in focusing on the region’s importance within the Costa Rican identity. Not only is it an occasion for celebrating Guanacaste’s food, customs and culture but also for hosting an annual visit by the President of the Republic to hear local lawmakers’ concerns and present investment plans.
Historically, Guanacaste Day marks the milestone date when the Nicoya party, representing the people of Santa Cruz and Nicoya, decided to separate from Nicaragua and join Costa Rica. In truth, it was more than a 10-year process. Since Central America declared independence as a group of nations, there were no official laws for the separation of regions at the time and at first, Liberia refused to join the annexation.
Today, however, the largest Guanacaste Day celebration takes place in Liberia, where it lasts a full week. The main attraction is the Tope, a parade of local horses and cowboys down Liberia’s main street. Thousands of Costa Ricans come out to see the most talented cowboys and horses in the area. The parade also involves children marching to the park at the center of town, wearing masks and dressing up as a variety of personages.