It’s no secret that Bolivia is a place where people know how to have a good time. Their country hosts numerous festivals and parades — Entradas as they call them — throughout the year. Therefore, it’s no wonder why so many tourists love to visit this proud and joyous South American nation.
The best thing about Bolivia and other South American nations is that they mix Christian beliefs with their Native traditions. These seemingly unholy unions result in fantastic celebrations that feel familiar yet exotic. And since we’re also a happy bunch, allow us to introduce you to six of our favorite festivals in Bolivia. Let’s check them out, shall we?
Our first pick is actually Easter Sunday or Semana Santa, as it’s called in Spanish. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a big thing in the whole of South America, most people there being devout Christian Catholics. But why Bolivia, you might ask? Well, it’s the way they go about this religious festival. It’s not just bunnies and colorful eggs in the garden.
In Bolivia, Semana Santa includes food, drinks, and music across all cities, small towns, and remote villages. Everyone is in a happy mood, trying their best to have the best of times. You’ll see dancing and singing in the streets, parades of people holding hands, and much more. Additionally, tourists can explore beautiful churches without paying entrance fees.
Festival of Virgen de la Candelaria
Our next pick is the famous Festival of Virgen de la Candelaria. It takes place every February, during the first two weeks. The festival is about paying respect to one of Bolivia’s sacred statues depicting the Lady of Copacabana. In many ways, it’s a great showing of the mix between Native customs and Catholic practices that is so common in South America.
The Lady’s statue is actually small in size and is located inside its church. Bolivians revere it so much because they believe how it saved the lives of fishermen. However, it was also behind destroying the crops of evil unbelievers. You should, nevertheless, check this festival out as it consists of marching bands, parades, and tons of beer and food.
Like we’ve said, South America is a great example of how different traditions can coexist. They successfully merge Christian customs and holidays with their Native practices and beliefs. The Tinku Festival is one such example. However, it’s also an example of a festival that still isn’t well-known among regular tourists, which makes it perfect for all hipsters.
Tinku goes down in Potosí and is all about celebrating mother nature. The way it’s celebrated is what makes it special, as people gather and join in a massive fistfight. It gets bloody, but that’s the point. The crimson juices, as Bolivians believe, help bring forth a rich harvest. You can, of course, just stick around for food and drinks and watch.
If you want to experience the festivals in Bolivia and make sure you didn’t miss anything, the Alasitas Festival is a must. It goes down in La Paz, and the tradition is to buy and offer all sorts of gifts to the Aymaran god Ekeko. He will, in turn, provide all that celebrate him with good fortune and riches for the rest of their lives.
The festival happens every year on the 24th of January. It’s a great event as it provides foreigners a perfect chance to understand local culture and enjoy colorful fiestas. However, there is one downside. Since Alasitas is so popular among the locals, it might get pretty crowded. But if you love crowds, well, it will be pretty much perfect for you.
Fiesta Del Gran Poder
We’re again in the city of La Paz. In late May and early June, the executive capital of Bolivia is host to yet another great festival — Fiesta Del Gran Poder. Some stats show that it includes more than 25,000 official participants, making it one of the largest when it comes to organization. It’s also one of the most important festivals in the whole of Bolivia.
This is yet another religious celebration, as the festival is in honor of Señor Del Gran Poder, or Jesus Christ as we know him. On the streets, there are thousands of dancers and regular folks. All of them are enjoying the day, food, and drinks that are on every corner. And regardless of your religious beliefs, there’s no doubt that you’ll have a good time.
Lastly, we need to get a bit spooky. Pretty much everyone is aware of how Mexicans love to celebrate their Day of the Dead. However, not many know that Bolivians do the same thing — in an even grander fashion. The Natita Festival is everything in Bolivian Andes. The locals participate in decorating the skulls of their dead, believing they will protect them during the year.
The way people decorate the remains of their ancestors is also interesting, and a bit weird. Namely, they stick cigarettes in their skulls, add flowers to their eyes, and color them with melted wax from candles. Either way, the date of the festival is in early November. But don’t worry: it will still be nice and warm, at least for most of us living North of Bolivia.