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Most unique festivals in Latin America

August 26, 2019 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

From soaring peaks and glaciers to tropical jungles and ancient ruins, Latin America is geographically diverse enough to make a mark on even the most seasoned travellers. And while the region abounds in natural beauty, it is also popular for its rich traditions. According to the travel expert at MONEDEROSMART, festival tourism in Latin America continues to increase, as global explorers seek out authentic experiences that are connected with the culture of a particular destination. Here is a list of Latin America’s three most unique celebrations.

Dia de los muertos (Day of the dead)

Probably one of the most well-known and interesting Latin American festivals, this Mexican celebration is held over two days in November. The All Saints’ Day pays homage to all saints and dead children while the All Souls’ Day honours the souls of people who died in adulthood. During the festival, people gather at cemeteries to celebrate their loved ones with music, fruit, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), beer, tequila and the favourite dishes of their departed friends or family members. The Day of the Dead dates back 3000 years when indigenous people of the region decorated the skulls of their deceased family members and brought them out on special occasions. Today, the decorative skulls worn during the festival have become so popular that, in many ways, they are an international symbol of the country.

Oruro carnival (Carnival of Oruro)

Included in UNESCO’s list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the Bolivian Carnival of Oruro dates back 200 years. The festival, which is held on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, attracts over 400,000 people each year, transforming the sleepy town of Oruro into a colourful hive of activity. Held over ten days, the event features folk dancers in extravagant costumes, music, arts and crafts, and lots of partying. During the festival, the dancers and musicians walk back and forth in a four-kilometre procession for a full 20 hours (approximately 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians take part in the event). One of the festival’s biggest attractions are the diablada, or the dance of the devils, which showcases dancers dressed in masks and devil costumes, and the llama llama, a dance in honour of Tiw, an Uru god who protects the region’s lakes, rivers and mines.

Photo: Pixabay

Inti Raymi (Festival of the sun)

Celebrated in Cusco, Peru, each June, the Inti Raymi is held to honour the Sun God Inti. Also known as the Inca Festival of the Sun, the Inti Raymi was first held in the 1400s to appease Inti with a procession and animal sacrifices. The festival was banned by the Spaniards in 1536 only to be revived in 1944 when a film crew reconstructed the ritual. The main location of the festival is Sacsayhumán, a site of Inca ruins, where a llama is still ritually sacrificed each year. The event also features numerous street parties and a procession with dancers and musicians dressed in Inca costumes. The annual celebrations attract thousands of locals and tourists who watch the festivities from a grandstand and the surrounding hills.

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