Bolivia is a festive country filled with endless traditional celebrations that every visitor should experience at least once in their life. It’s a beautiful land filled with culture and celebrations all year round.
If you’re planning a trip here, we’ve compiled a few of the best Bolivia celebrations you absolutely must attend. Here is our guide to the unforgettable festivals and celebrations of Bolivia:
Just one week before Carnival, on the 24th of January, the Alasitas Fair, or Feria de Alasitas, takes place in La Paz, Bolivia. Bolivians from all over the country flock to the city to buy miniature items to offer to Ekeko, the Aymaran God of abundance, in the hope he will bring good fortune and wealth into their lives.
In order to have their wishes granted, Bolivians purchase a figure of Ekeko, to put into their homes throughout the year. Then they buy all the items they wish for in miniature sizes, have these miniature items blessed by a shaman and pin them to the poncho of Ekeko figure, praying for good fortune.
During this festival, La Paz is filled with market stalls lining the streets of the city and its parks. Vendors sell miniature items, handmade crafts, and homemade food.
The Alasitas Fair is a wonderful way for tourists to gain a glimpse into the local culture and enjoy the colorful festivities. However, keep in mind that la Paz can get very crowded during this time and its recommended to book accommodation in advance.
Semana Santa in Copacabana
March or April
Easter, or Semana Santa in Spanish, is celebrated throughout the whole country of Bolivia with processions and elaborate festivals.
You’ll find lively celebrations featuring food, music, dances, parades and religious ceremonies. The height of celebrations takes place on Holy Thursday when the churches throughout the city open their doors to a stream of devotees who come to light candles, pray and sing hymns. This also provides tourists with the opportunity to explore the city’s many churches without the usual entrance fees.
Fiesta Del Gran Poder
May or June
Between the month of May and June, the whole city of La Paz comes to a halt to celebrate one of Bolivia’s most extravagant and unique festivals with more than 25.000 local participants.
The religious festivities pay homage to El Señor de Gran Poder or Jesus Christ. The parade features thousands of dancers sprawling the streets of La Paz with colorful costumes while the masses of spectators cheer in delight.
Although the festivities have changed over the years, many of the originally Amara traditions remain, making it a special event attended by locals and tourists alike and one of the best Bolivia celebrations throughout the country.
Aymara New Year and winter solstice have been a national holiday since 2009. It’s celebrated throughout Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
Although one can witness this ancient festival all over Bolivia, the spiritual heart of Bolivia’s winter solstice is the pre-Inca site of Tiwanaku located on the high plains just outside of La Paz. Fearing the lack of sun and ensuing famine, the ancient Incas gathered in Cusco to honor the Sun God and plead for his return.
In this spectacular setting people of all ages dance through the night to mark the winter. Shamans pour their offerings with alcohol and chant blessings to Mother Earth. This is an intimate event to experience and one of the must-see Bolivia festivals if you are visiting during this time.
August marks one of Bolivias most important cultural events, the festival of Urkupuña in Quillacollo. The festivities are in honor of the virgin of Urkupiña, the most renowned virgin figure in the region.
People arrive from every corner of the country to participate in these festivities. The festivities are not just Catholic but a mixture of indigenous traditions. The celebrations are marked with folkloric dances that last from the early morning until long after the sunset. The abundance of different dances performed range from flamenco style to feet stomping. Each dance is accompanied by a band.
The traditions and rituals have incorporated Catholic elements without losing the essence of their own, unique culture. This Bolivia festival is truly an immersive look into the ancient culture of this country.
Bolivia celebrations are filled with excitement and culture. If you’re in need of help planning your trip to these beautiful festivals, book a tour with Gulliver Expeditions today!