Carnivals in Latin AmericaMary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Our Real Latin America Expert
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
We all know that Rio Carnival is the biggest party on the planet, a raucous carnival full of impossible dances and impossible bodies to gape at. However, Brazil is not the only place to host a world-class party. Other countries are doing just as well in their entertainment department.
Here are some examples:
Carnival del Pais, Argentina
With Brazil for a neighbour, there is little wonder Argentina feels the need to compete and, lucky for us, doesn't disappoint. During the same dates as above, weekend before Ash Wednesday, carnivals take over major towns across the country, particularly in the states of Entre Rios and Corrientes, with elaborate feathered costumes and enormous parades. The largest of these is in the near-unpronounceable town of Gualeguaychú, known as the Carnival del Pais, or carnival of the region.
Carnival, Santiago de Cuba
Unlike the other fiestas in this list, the carnival of Cuba's second city, Santiago, has nothing to do with Easter and is instead centered around the summer festival of St James, the city's namesake. Unlike the others, too, it lasts a whopping ten days! Carnival bands make use of whatever instruments are to hand to fill the streets with Cuba's signature salsa soundtrack as dance troupes party the days and nights away amongst colourful floats. A unique element of the carnival is its conga parade, which takes place on the first day of the celebrations (July 18). In street after street, the whole community turns up to conga around with their neighbours, with still in their pyjamas!
Fiesta de la Candelaria, Peru
A bit more subdued to start with, this festivity begins with a religious service, followed by an equally pious procession through Puno in Peru. The fun starts with the traditional dances one of which is the well known Diablada - from then on, everyone dances, drinks and endeavours to be merry! To make the fiesta all the more important, this particular event has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
Las Tablas Carnival, Panama
Every year this otherwise sleepy town of Las Tablas erupts into a riot of merry-making, as two rival factions - Calle Arriba (uptown) and Calle Abajo (downtown) - compete in a truly epic dance-off. Parades, fireworks and music bring the party to life while the carnival queens in their astonishing costumes fight it out to be crowned the most beautiful. At the same time, water is sprayed over the crowd in a tradition known as the mojadera. The carnival is always scheduled for the weekend before Ash Wednesday; the dates in 2017 are 24-26 February.
Oruro Carnival, Bolivia
Visitors to Bolivia in the days proceeding Ash Wednesday will encounter an altogether different affair to the more famous Brazilian carnival, but one that's no less traditional or colourful. Oruro, in central Bolivia, hosts the most important carnival of the country; one characterised by a dance style known as La Diablada which roughly translates as the Dance of the Devil. Parades of men dress in impressive demonical costumes whirl through the streets as crowds of onlookers celebrate in the stands, but this being Bolivia, there are also plenty of rustic touches; one minute you'll see a troupe of dancing girls in costumes they're saved up all year to buy, and the next you might spot a man proudly parading his llama along the carnival route!
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Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Sally Dodge - Travel Expert
A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.