Growing out of an ancient indigenous celebration, Oruro Carnival has become Bolivia’s biggest festival. Once an important pilgrimage site for the Uru peoples, Spanish colonisation brought with it the Christian doctrine which resulted in today’s unique blend of pagan-Catholicism. This mixture can be clearly seen in the carnival festivities which celebrate pagan gods as well as the Virgin de la Candelaria. The festival highlight is the vibrant parade through the city, lasting three days and four nights and showcasing a wide variety of indigenous dances by masked, costumed performers who re-enact traditional scenes from local history.
Oruro Carnival takes place for the ten days leading up to Lent, from 19th to 28th February in 2017. The city is around 120 miles from the capital of La Paz. If you’d like to attend the country’s biggest carnival, the best way is to fly from the UK to La Paz and join a connecting flight to Oruro’s domestic hub, Juan Mendoza airport which is just a 15-minute bus ride from the city centre. You can buy tickets for the parades from various kiosks in the city centre on the day of the parade.
If you’re planning to attend the carnival, it helps to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the indigenous folklore, as it’s so essential to the carnival parades. One of the most notable elements is the dance of the devil, known as the Diablada, which is performed throughout the festivities. The image of the devil has become synonymous with the carnival and there are various representations of it during the parades which can be fairly terrifying! His counterpart, according to indigenous tradition, is Pachamama who represents both Mother Earth and the Virgin Mary. The festival culminates in a large-scale dance representing the battle between Good and Evil.
Make the most of your trip to Oruro for the carnival by staying in the perfect rental accommodation for you. Book with Eventful Stays and you can choose to stay in apartments, bed and breakfasts, studios, houses or flats…all close to the carnival festivities via public transport or on foot. Check out our accommodation in Oruro.
If you’re travelling to Oruro for the carnival, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in this unique setting, including: Sajama National Park, Las Mina de San Jose and the Sanctuary of El Socavon.
To find out more information about the carnival, please check out the UNESCO official carnival page where you’ll be able to find out where to download the complete carnival programme and find out more about the costumes, masks, songs and history of the Oruro Carnival.
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