When it comes to festivities, Latin Americans sure know how to celebrate. The rich culture and deep-rooted history of Latin America has given rise to numerous beautiful festivals and celebrations over the ages, and despite the ever-changing times, these festivals have neither lost their splendour nor their charm.
Most of the Latin American festivals find their origins in Christianity while other festivals have stemmed from their sheer love for art and celebration. Whatever the festival is, nonetheless, it is celebrated with much pomp and splendour and it would be a huge mistake to not put any of these festivals on your bucket list.
Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
We’ll start off with the most famous of all Latin American festivals, the Rio Carnival. although carnivals take place throughout Brazil, this carnival is celebrated on a much larger scale and is, in fact, the biggest carnival in the world.
The Rio Carnival begins before the 40 day period of Lent, which is a period of abstinence and penance for Christians around the world. This 5 day-long flamboyant fiesta is filled with floats, dancers, music and extreme costumes.
Where to stay during the festivities: Southern Rio is a good place to stay in. Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon are the best bet when staying in Rio during the Carnival.
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico
Undoubtedly the most colourful and spooky (now that’s a strange combination) of all Latin American festivals is Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead. Usually celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November, this celebration is a beautiful tribute to the departed.
On this day, families and friends gather together in remembrance of their loved ones and build traditional altars for the dead, honouring them with sugar skulls (now iconic with this festival), flowers and their favourite food and possessions.
It is believed that the souls of the departed come down on this day. This festival has great sentimental significance and is a beautiful way of remembering the people that are no longer in our midst. The sweets, Sugar skulls, flowers, and Catrina figures give this holiday a unique touch that no other festival can quite match up to.
Where to stay during the festivities: San Andres Mixquic is the best place to get yourself an accommodation if you’re planning on experiencing this beautiful festival.
Semana Santa (Holy Week), Peru, Chile and Colombia
This festival that takes place during the week before Easter, is a beautiful mix of the religious, traditional, pagan and commercial. During the 1o day-long celebrations, grand processions in honor of The Virgin Mary, Jesus and different Saints fill up the streets with splendour and colour. Various competitions and concerts are held during this celebration.
Semana Santa Procession
The night before Easter Sunday is when the climax of the celebrations take place. It might get a bit rough for some, but if you’re the kind that enjoys a night of wild partying and revelling, staying till the end of the festivities is a must.
Where to stay during the festivities: The festivities go on throughout Peru but probably the best places to experience this festival are Ayacucho, Cuzco, Tarma and Huaraz.
Festival y Mundial de Tango (World Tango Festival), Buenos Aires, Argentina
If dancing to Latin beats is your thing, the World Tango Festival held in August, is for you. This intense, power-packed tournament sees couples from countries all over the world competing against each under for the ultimate Tango title.
If you’re not too pleased just watching from a distance – don’t fret! Free dance classes that are a regular feature during the tournament will make sure your dancing shoes don’t lie unused.
Where to stay during the festivities: The festival takes place throughout the city at different venues.
Inti Raymi, Cuzco, Peru
Inti Raymi, also called the ‘Festival of the Sun’, is a religious festival held in honor of the Incan Sun god (Inti). A theatrical representation of the religious ceremony is held during this festival which attracts tourists from alll over the world. The celebrations consist of colourful dances and processions and is simply a delight to watch.
Where to stay during the festivities: There are many reasonable hostels and hotels where you can get a lodging in Cuzco. Just make sure you book your stay in advance.
La Feria de Cali (Cali Fair), Cali, Colombia
This 5 day extravaganza begins on the 25th and lasts till the 30th of December. The Fair celebrates a beautiful mix of dance, music, food and culture and is the biggest festival in all of Colombia.
They also call it the ‘Sugar Cane Fair’ as this fair takes place beside a large sugar-cane plantation. Many different activities such as street parades, salsa dances, traditional music complete this beautiful festival.
Where to stay during the festivities: Cali has a number of good hotels sprinkled all over the area.