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There are few things I enjoy more in life than music festivals and traveling. Combine the two of them? Welcome to my paradise. Getting to celebrate the inaugural year of the BPM festival in Costa Rica was nothing short of a dream come true.
BPM is a 5-day electronic music festival set in the beautiful jungle/beaches of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. In this post, discover everything you need to know about attending BPM, plus essential tips for visiting Tamarindo and advice on where to go after in Costa Rica.
I kindly received a complimentary media pass to attend BPM in Tamarindo. As always, all opinions are my own.
What is the BPM festival?
BPM, which stands for Bartenders, Promoters, and Musicians, is an electronic music festival that started in 2008 as a post-New Years gathering for industry professionals in Mexico. Since then, it’s grown into a world-renowned event with multiple locations around the world including Portugal, Israel, and now Costa Rica!
2020 marked the inaugural year of the BPM festival in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and what an amazing location they picked.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo is a beautiful town nestled along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline. It’s the perfect location for a festival like BPM which is set outdoors.
The festival took place from January 14th-19th, coinciding with the dry season in Costa Rica. The weather was hot and dry, which was perfect for a festival like BPM. Not to mention the incredible beaches and sunsets, which are the perfect backdrop for dancing the night away.
Aside from the perfect weather, what makes Tamarindo, Costa Rica an ideal destination for the BPM festival is the social atmosphere. The town attracts travelers from all over the world, so it makes for a social and fun atmosphere where you can easily meet people.
Pura Vida is a way of life in Costa Rica, and Tamarindo is no exception to this. Translated, Pura Vida means pure life. It’s a common expression in Costa Rica that replaces hello, goodbye, thank you, and more. But Pura Vida is more than just an expression, it represents the Costa Ricans culture and way of life. Simply, it means that people need to be grateful for what they have in life and not dwell on the negative. A vacation to Costa Rica is the perfect way to relax and recharge from the daily stress of life, and BPM/Tamarindo is the perfect place to do just that!
Getting to Tamarindo
If you are traveling internationally to Costa Rica for the BPM festival, the closest airport to fly into is Liberia International Airport (LIR). It is only a one hour drive from Liberia to Tamarindo. San Jose International Airport (SJO) is about 3.5 hours away.
There are many shuttles running between Liberia and Tamarindo which should cost you around $20. BPM has an official travel partner for booking travel.
Alternatively, you could take the public bus (La Pampa). It only costs a few dollars, but it will likely take 2.5 hours or more.
- From Liberia to Tamarindo: Buses depart at 3:55am, 5:15am, 8:10am, 10am, 10:10am, 11:10am, 1:10pm, 2:10pm, 4:10pm and 6:10pm.
- From Tamarindo to Liberia: Buses depart at 3:30am, 4:30am, 5:45am, 7:30am, 9am, 10:00am, 11:30am, 1pm, 2:15pm, 3pm, 4:15pm, 5pm, and 6:30pm.
Rental cars are also readily available from Liberia which is a great way to travel around Costa Rica. However, if you plan to rent a car in Tamarindo after the event, I highly recommend booking in advance. They have limited availability with so many people wanting to rent cars after the festival. I ran into this problem!
Further below, I’ve suggested some of the best things you can do in Tamarindo, as well as recommendations on where to stay and where to travel afterward in Costa Rica.
BPM in Tamarindo
The BPM festival took place from January 14th-19th 2020 this year in Costa Rica. Five amazing days of music with over 150 DJ’s performing! Here’s a complete lineup of the artists that performed at BPM.
The festival showcased the best of house music with over 150 national and international artists. Some of the biggest highlights were Masters at Work, Deep Dish, Sasha, Loco Dice, Luciano, Nevedogs, Carl Craig, and more. They also had a mix of local talent present!
The festival took place in four different locations across Tamarindo: Casa Aura, El Garito, and Tamarindo Eco Adventures (The Canopy and Jungle).
Casa Aura and El Garito are two bars in Tamarindo while the main event took place at Eco Adventures Tamarindo. BPM really is a full day/night event. From 12-7 Casa Aura was open, and the Canopy (at Eco Adventures) was open from 12-10. El Garito held nighttime events from 9 pm until 3 am, while the Jungle was open from 10 pm until close (which goes very late, I was there until sunrise)!
The energy between day and night is very different at BPM. At most day time events there were only a few hundred people, while during the night time this increased to thousands. Around 12 am seemed to be the peak time, although it was often still packed at the jungle well into 5 am.
It’s still worth it to go during the day and soak up some of the beautiful Costa Rican sunshine. One of my favorite sets was Felix Da Housecat who played at the Canopy stage in the afternoon. It was a great dance party!
My favorite venue was the jungle inside Eco Adventures which opened every night after 10 pm. Inside the jungle they had three different stages set up – The Pod, Howling Monkey, and Dreamcatcher. I loved that the festival was set in the jungle. All of the trees lit up was so magical to walk through and dance in!
Dreamcatcher was by far my favorite stage. They had beautiful dream catchers hanging down from the trees, making it even more mystical.
The Pod stage also had an electric atmosphere and it was where many of the biggest artists played. Howling monkey was the smallest stage, but it was a nice one to go to when you needed a break from the big crowds.
None of the stages were far away from each other, which was great for switching between them. I actually counted how long it took to walk between each stage. From the Canopy stage to The Pod was 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Pod to Dreamcatcher was 2 minutes, and Dreamcatcher to Howling Monkey was 2 minutes. While there were usually people passing through the walkways, it was never so much heavy traffic you couldn’t get by!
At each stage, there was a bar to buy drinks. Water bottles were $5 each, and unfortunately, there was no free water stations. Beer (Heiniken) was $6, while mixed drinks were $10+. There was also an area to buy food next to the canopy stage.
The festival spanned five days and while there were many people there for the entire event, the energy was definitely higher during the weekend performances. My favorite night of the event was Friday, when many people had just arrived. The energy while Nicole Moudaber played was unreal!
The atmosphere throughout the five days at BPM was incredible. The stages were always packed with people dancing until the early hours of the morning.
Aside from the amazing music, the best part about BPM was getting to meet so many amazing people from all over the world. Everyone there had such a positive energy about them and it was easy to make friends at the festival.
BPM goes late into the night and it’s a non-stop dance party, so it requires quite a bit of energy to be there from day into night! Personally I found it helpful to take a break in-between day and night sets, or arrive later in the evening if you want to stay out into the early morning hours.
BPM Festival Logistics
BPM festival tickets can be purchased online here. They sell a full 5-day pass or 3-day weekend pass. The price depends on when you purchase the tickets. Early bird passes offer the best price and as it moves onto Tier 1 and Tier 2, etc., the festival pass price will increase. If you plan to go next year, I recommend to buying tickets earlier to save and get the best value. The people I met who bought early bird tickets paid less than half of those who purchased the weekend of BPM. During the event, they were also selling individual showcase tickets.
Picking up the festival pass (wristband)
Wristbands are not mailed out to you. To get your wristband, you must present the purchase confirmation email displaying the scannable barcode along with a government-issued photo ID at the BPM Box Office in Tamarindo.
I picked up my wristband at Casa Aura the night before BPM started and it was a very quick process! When you pick up the bracelet, you can load it with money using the cashless system.
I loved the BPM implemented a cashless bar system, where you paid using the wristband. Once you pick up the wristband, there is an option to link your credit card to it. This way there was no need for bringing cash to the venue since all purchases can be made with your wristband! Plus, you get a receipt automatically e-mailed to you.
Although all of the venues were within walking distance of the main strip in Tamarindo, BPM also had free shuttles running back and forth to the Canopy and Jungle at Eco Adventures. The shuttle picked up at the corner of Central Ave and Calle Cardinal and took about five minutes to get to the event. Otherwise, it was about a 20-minute walk from the same pick-up spot. The shuttles didn’t have an exact schedule but ran pretty frequently, I never waited more than 15 minutes for one. This was so nice at the end of the night, when my feet were tired from dancing! There were also regular cabs running from Tamarindo to the event, which cost around $10 from the same intersection.
There is an official BPM Facebook Page as well as a BPM Costa Rica Facebook group which is an excellent resource for finding out information about the event and connecting with other attendees. I know people who were traveling solo who used this to link up with other travelers beforehand!
What to wear
It’s a festival, so you can wear just about anything to BPM! I recommend something light and breathable, as the weather is hot and there’s lots of dancing. Many people just wore their bikinis! Since I was traveling afterward I was limited on my festival wear, but most days went with shorts and a crop top. I loved seeing the colorful outfits that people had at the festival! It’s a great place to show off your creative side.
What to bring
I recommend bringing the minimum that you need to the event. Large backpacks aren’t allowed in (maximum 12in x 12in / 30cm x 30cm), and there isn’t a place to store your belonging. An essential item I bring to any festival is a cute fanny pack! These are perfect because you can have your hands free to dance. If you’re worried about theft, you could take a hidden money belt that goes inside your shorts.
As I mentioned above, it’s a cashless system so I wouldn’t worry about bringing much cash unless you plan to get a taxi or go into Tamarindo after. Bring your phone, ID, sunscreen (if you go during the day), earplugs (the bass is very loud), and any other essential small items you may need. Only non-professional cameras are allowed. Here is a complete list of what you can and cannot bring into the event. Remember, all bags are subject to inspection.
Other Things to do in Tamarindo
If you’re coming to Tamarindo for the BPM festival, it’s worth adding on a few days to your itinerary to discover what else this vibrant city has to offer.
Tamarindo is known for its world-class surfing. Even if you haven’t surfed before, there are qualified instructors readily available to teach you how to catch a wave. Tamarindo was the first place I ever tried surfing!
Enjoy the beaches
Tamarindo has a lovely beach with beautiful sunsets. Taking a break between the daytime and nighttime events to watch the sunset was one of my favorite things to do! They also have massages on the beach which is a great way to relax ($35 for an hour). However, there are some nicer beaches not far from Tamarindo. I recommend visiting Playa Conchal, which is a half-hour away.
Costa Rica is land of the zip-lines, and in the same location as the event (Eco adventures) you can try it! A couple of my friends did this and said it was a blast. If you’re only in Tamarindo this is a great thing to do but if you’re traveling elsewhere in Costa Rica, I’d save the zip-lining for there. Monteverde is the best place in the country to go zip-lining, while La Fortuna is a close second.
Tamarindo is nearby to the Catalina islands which offer great diving opportunities.
Sunset Catamaran Tour
Another popular thing to do in Tamarindo is to enjoy a sunset Catamaran tour. On the tour you’ll get the chance to sail along the Pacific coast and snorkel in the coral reefs, with a beautiful sunset from the boat as you return to Tamarindo.
Where to stay in Tamarindo
If you are looking for a social place with other festival attendees and close proximity to the festival, then I highly recommend Selina! I was hosted here and it was the PERFECT place for attending the festival as a solo traveler. As soon as I arrived, I met other travelers who were attending the festival. I already had a crew to go with before the festival had only begun thanks to Selina!
Selina is in a great location for attending BPM, just a two-minute walk from where the free shuttle drops you off. From Selina, you can walk to Casa Aura in 10 minutes, El Garito in 5, and Eco Adventures in 20. Selina is right on the main drag of Tamarindo, so there are plenty of restaurant options nearby.
Selina Tamarindo has both dorm and private rooms available. All of the rooms are in separate houses each painted with beautiful graffiti. They also have AC in each room which is essential at this time of year!
The best part about Selina in Tamarindo is the outdoor pool which was perfect for staying cool in the heat. It was always a social atmosphere there and where I met many people. However, you don’t have to worry about it being too loud to sleep, as there are quiet hours past 10 pm.
They also have an on-site restaurant and bar next to the pool, and even had special events and DJ’s going on for BPM. Selina also has an on-site tour desk where they can help you book tours in Tamarindo including surf lessons. You can also just rent surfboards, which is one of the best things to do in Tamarindo!
If you’re looking for more private or luxury accommodation, there are a range of amazing Airbnbs to book in Tamarindo like this beachfront villa. Renting one of these with friends while attending BPM would be such an experience!
If you’re planning to attend BPM in Tamarindo next year, I highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance. Everything was sold out by the time the festival had started, and I even had friends leave early because they had nowhere to stay. The same thing goes with booking transport on afterward – it’s important to book in advance! I had to go back to the Liberia airport just to pick up a rental car because there were none available in Tamarindo.
Where to go in Costa Rica after the BPM Festival
While BPM is an epic experience, Costa Rica is a wonderful country and it’s worth taking the time to explore other parts of it outside of Tamarindo. The best way to get around the country is to rent a car, but there are also shuttles available. If you love beach and surf, head further down the Nicoya Peninsula to Nosara or Santa Teresa. If you want a new landscape and epic adventures, head to Arenal Volcano at La Fortuna or the Cloudforest of Monteverde.
For inspiration on planning your Costa Rica trip, check out these posts:
- Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
- The Best Things to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Getting to combine two of my biggest passions was a great way to start my trip in Costa Rica. If you love house music and traveling, attending BPM is an amazing addition to any Costa Rica itinerary. Or if you can’t wait for next year, don’t forget that BPM also hosts amazing events in Portugal and Israel! Do you have any questions about attending BPM or Costa Rica in general? Let me know in the comments below!
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