Costa Rica's night life buzzes with live music that ranges from the traditional Latin rhythms to classical symphonies at the spectacular National Theater to pop music at the local discotecas. Like many Latin American countries, the Africa-derived, xylophone-style instrument, the marimba, is the foundation of native music in Costa Rica. On the Atlantic coast, the air is filled with the sounds of steel drums, reggae beats, and other instruments of the Caribbean.
Places to go for live music:
National Symphony Orchestra
When: Concerts on Thursday and Friday evenings at 8pm and Sunday mornings
at 10:30am during the season, April through November.
Location: National Theater
Seating: the "galeria" is the least expensive seating section, with prices usually under a dollar.
Una Hora de Musica
For chamber-music lovers.
When: Once or twice a month
Location: National Theater, as well as in theaters in Cartago, Alajuela, and Heredia
Phone: 21-53-41 (call to check performance times)
The Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center
Offers classical music through its University Musicians Series, which brings oustanding groups and soloists from U.S. universities.
Offers a monthly concert or recital.
Offers occasional classical music evenings.
Occasionally offers traditional and avant-garde jazz.
Liverpool Music Hall
Offers jazz, blues and rock bands.
Location: in Barrio Mexico
The Shakespeare Gallery
Features live jazz
When: Monday evenings after 9pm (Jazz Expresso).
Location: in the Sala Garbo
When: Monday through Saturday after 8:30pm
Location: in El Pueblo shopping center in Guadalupe.
Sometimes offers Andean music.
Location: in El Pueblo
Features salsa and merengue.
When: Tuesday through Thursday
Location: in El Pueblo
Occasionally features Latin music groups.
Where: near the University of Costa Rica.
Hotspot for mariachi groups - open all night.
Location: downtown San José
"Peña" is an intellectual style of performance art that blends music with spoken word and poetry. Local musicians of outstanding ability in this style include Adrain Goizueta y el Grupo Experimental, Luis Angel Castro, Ruben Pagura and Juan Carlos Ureña, and Canto America. Concerts featuring any of these names are not to be missed!
Where: 100 north and 100 east of the San Pedro church
Live music on Tuesday nights
Where: 25 east of La Nueva China in San Pedro
Spanish guitar, rock, coffee house
When: Monday nights
Location: in San Pedro
The Shakespeare Bar
Luis Castro plays on Saturday nights
Location: in the Sala Garbo movie theater
Rock, Caribbean, Reggae, and Others
El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte ("The Cuartel")
Live music every Wednesday; experimental-Caribe group Marfil often plays.
Location: near the university
Offers a variety of rock, jazz and blues.
Location: Barrio Mexico
Go anywhere on the Atlantic coast to hear Bob Marley and other Reggae music.