Festivals in South America

South America is famed for its festivals, so what better way to throw yourself into local culture than to join the party?

With carnivals of all shapes and sizes taking place throughout the year and music festivals attracting some of the world’s most famous acts, the South Americans definitely know how to celebrate life. From Rio de Janeiro’s enormous Carnival welcoming, quite literally, millions of revellers on an annual basis to the joyous Tango Festival in Buenos Aires, if you wish to experience a slice of South American life, attending a festival while you are visiting is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

The wonderful thing about South American festivals is that there are plenty to choose from and no two are the same. Begin your year with a bang by visiting Colombia’s Storyland Festival; just up the coast from Cartagena, this event usually takes place in January and is a favourite for many internationally renowned DJs. Or, how about something with a slightly slower pace? Make your way to Cordoba, Argentina for Cosquin Folk Festival; stretching over nine days it is one of the oldest of its kind in the country and incorporates everything from traditional dancers to acclaimed poets – an experience not to be missed.

In Peru, the Fiesta de la Candelaria is perhaps one of the most well-known in the country but for an authentic taste of Incan culture, Inti Raymi – coinciding with the winter solstice in June – is an unforgettable spectacle. Regenerated in the 1940s after being banned for many years this celebration of the sun involves ancient rituals, processions and performances. The Bolivian carnival in Oruro meanwhile, dominates the festival calendar being one of the biggest in South America.

However, if you wish to make a more personal connection travel to La Paz to be part of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. Each year at the start of November, cemeteries become busy with visitors decorating their loved ones’ graves in preparation for this important event. In the highlands, the skulls of the deceased are often dug up and decorated, an act of love and respect to the departed souls. Rather than being melancholy, this is a celebration of life, death and a reunion with loved ones who are no longer with us. No matter what time of year you are in South America, the exciting mix of festivals and events will offer you a unique insight into the rich cultural heritage of this eclectic continent.

Festivals in South America Highlights:
  • Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • La Feria de las Flores, Medellín, Colombia
  • Carnival, Oruro, Bolivia
  • Lollapalooza, Santiago, Chile
  • Inti Raymi, Cusco, Peru
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