Bolivian Holidays are a central part of life in Bolivia, home to some of the most sacred shrines and a large population of descendants of the Inca. 70% of the population still lives according to traditional ways, so this is a place that is alive with festival and ceremony.
All year round festivals of all kinds are taking place in Bolivia. Achocalla is an interesting festival that is best enjoyed at the smaller towns and villages of Sucre and Cochabamba. This is a celebration of heritage and traditional music and folklore that is on display during Bolivian holidays.
Carnival in Bolivia
Carnival in February is not to be missed – Santa Cruz and Oruro provide the best displays for this occasion. A colorful tropical parade is what you can expect in Santa Cruz, while Oruro’s version of Carnival is of an unmistakably Andean flavor and is a vibrant declaration of Bolivian culture.
Semana Santa is in April, and this week is the sacred week, as its name suggests in Spanish. On Good Friday, hundreds of pilgrims arrive at Cochacamba on foot after walking from La Paz. The festival of el Gran Poder (the Great Power) is a unique bachannal affair similar to Carnival with its grand processions, but with a religious color. The festival whom it is dedicated to, Senor el Gran Poder (Mister Great Power) is none other than Jesus himself.
Santisima Trinidad, San Antonio, and Corpus Christie are all celebrated in the month of June. Yet it the midst of these catholic holidays is a celebration that will capture your interest, and you will not find anything similar to it anywhere in South America.
This elaborate ritual of Inti Raymi, or the solemn feast of the sun, of which some parts of are modified, was bought back to life about half a century ago and is recreated every year at the summer equinox. This Bolivian holiday is based on a ritual that dates back thousands of years. This ceremony was as important to the Inca was as the Mayan’s human sacrifices that their fierce gods drove them to.
Bolivian culture is distinct, and the processions that one sees on religious holidays are of a recurring theme for a reason. Take a front seat and witness all the very different processions, such as Inti Raymi’s Virgins of the Sun, who, in their elaborate costume, also savor the ritual and public pomp of such an event.
According to Bolivia’s historic tradition, a number of celebrations are in honor of certain Saints. July sees the processions and dances of Patron Saint of Moxos. Beni also sees in August the celebration for San Joaquin, with its bullfights and games.
At these processions, dancing is always present, and you can experience some of the most authentic expressions of culture at these celebrations. In Bolivia music is still played in the old ways, and the reed flutes and llama skin drums provide an accompaniment to dancing and procession that can only be described as purely authentic. Enjoy the Bolivian music, watch as the bright kaleidoscope of colors dances past you, and marvel at the richness of the Bolivian spirit.