Bolivian carnivals have a particular mysticism since they carry with them an important religious load. In addition to the traditional elements of the carnival, the festivities integrate native traditions, so that ceremonies to commemorate the Pacha Mama can be found in every celebration of the country. The Bolivian carnivals are characterized by great cultural manifestations, especially transmitted through dancing, singing and music.
We accompany you to discover the 5 Best Carnivals of Bolivia.
The city of Cochabamba, in the central region of Bolivia, is the epicenter of a great cultural celebration. Carnival has been present in the city since the 19th century, celebrating events such as Jueves de Compadres and Comadres. Years later, the city’s first corsos began to be held, which would become one of the main features of the carnival. Today, the carnivals in Cochabamba keep a deep cultural relationship.
Carnivals in the city of Cochabamba are full of events that commemorate the identity of the Bolivian. From start to finish, people celebrate the festivities with an abundance of music, traditional dances, traditional costumes and children’s carnivals. In addition, the city also offers spaces to celebrate the original carnivals, playing with water and confetti.
The most outstanding event of the festival is the Corsso de corsos. This event brings together dozens of cultural groups from various parts of the city and the country. All these groups perform various cultural manifestations, mainly dance and music. In addition, all the groups have colorful and incredible typical costumes.
The Cochabamba Carnival is celebrated during the months of February and March. It is generally held on the Saturday following Carnival Sunday.
The Carnival of Potosí, also known as the Carnival of the Miners or Miners’ Carnival, is a religious festive celebration in which the different religious images of the locality are venerated. The city of Potosí or Villa Imperial de Potosí, is located in the province of Tomás Frías. The carnival has been present in the town since 1940 and emerged as a spiritual way to ensure good fortune, protection and good working days in the local mines. Since then, commemorative ceremonies have been held.
Despite having traditional Latin American carnival elements, this celebration includes powerful religious elements. During the festivities, venerations are made to images such as Tata K’ajcha, which is considered the “father of the miners“. In addition, the Ch’alla and the koa, both rites of thanksgiving and veneration through spiritual elements, are performed.
In the carnival you can also see images of the Virgin of Candelaria and parades are held. All local guilds and cooperatives participate in the event and each of them contributes with music and traditional dances. Likewise, the miners’ families are also part of this emblematic and significant celebration.
The Potosi Carnival or Miners Carnival takes place during the traditional calendar of carnival festivities, so the celebration takes place during the months of February and March.
The city of Tarija is the epicenter of one of the most colorful carnivals in the country. Carnival in the city was originally celebrated by a select group of citizens, so at first it was not a popular party like those of today. In the mid-twentieth century, records began to be made of parties with water, eggs and flour, as well as typical local dances. The carnival festivities were formally consolidated in 1978.
The Tarija Carnival is one of the most awaited events of the whole city. The city of Tarija celebrates its carnival with the purpose of consolidating the lazos of friendship and confraternity among the inhabitants. This is why, during the festival, processions are held with baskets filled with food, fruit, balloons, streamers and cakes. These baskets are also offered to neighbors and friends as proof of friendship and camaraderie. In addition, to the delivery of baskets, other activities such as corsos with various cultural groupings are also carried out.
The parades in the city of Tarija are composed of several groups and have the particularity of involving various sectors of the city, including children’s groups. However, those who stand out in these corsos or parades are the cultural groups that express themselves mainly through singing and dancing. The typical costumes of the area cannot be missing, decorating all the streets with incredible colorful patterns.
The Tarija Carnival or Carnaval Chapaco lasts one month, so it is generally celebrated from the end of January to the end of February.
The carnival is celebrated in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located in theeast of the country. The city was founded in the 16th century, but it was not until the 19th century that carnival celebrations began. At first, people played throwing water, dirt and talcum at each other. In addition, neighbors would congregate to sing and dance. Over time, carnivals became more civilized, including horse-drawn floats, coronation of the carnival queen and corsos. However, the egg, water and earth war did not completely disappear; in fact, it is still present in today’s festivities.
The Santa Cruz de la Sierra Carnival represents one of the largest and most inclusive carnivals in the entire country. The celebration is full of diverse events for all kinds of audiences. In addition to the corsos where a large number of musical bands, music and traditional dance groups participate, comparsas with colorful costumes and large themed floats, there is also a coronation of the Carnival Queen of great importance. The last 3 days are marked by large water wars.
The Carnival Queens in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra are of great importance. Each year a new representative of the festivities is chosen to lead the parades. As soon as the Carnival Queen joins the corso celebration in the Cambódromo, the public goes into a frenzy and the bands and groups celebrate with more excitement.
Oruro is home to one of the most impressive carnival celebrations in the entire country. Carnival is a wonderful syncretism of religion with cultural aspects originating in Bolivia. Carnival has been present in the city of Oruro since colonial times. However, it did not intensify or acquire its own significance until after the country’s independence. When Bolivia was still under Spanish control, the carnival was mainly a European celebration, as the native traditions of the South American country were strongly censored and forbidden. During colonization, Catholic religious elements began to be introduced, which strongly influenced the thinking and identity of the Bolivian people. Today, the Carnival of Oruro is the perfect representation of native traditions with European festivities.
Due to the great cultural importance and the objective of preserving and developing the identity aspects of the Bolivians, the Carnival of Oruro was recognized as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco on May 18, 2001. Every year, around 25,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians come from different parts of the city and the country to participate in these incredible cultural celebrations. During the festivities, venerations and tributes to the Virgen del Socavón also take place, transforming the festivities into one of the most important religious and cultural festivities.
The main parade of the Carnival of Oruro integrates cultural groups from various regions of the country. Each of them performs repertoires of music and unique dances that are complemented by costumes and colorful costumes, full of history, images and interesting patterns. The parade lasts several hours and as the evening approaches, the parade intensifies and integrates lights, taking the festivities to another level. The route is about 4 kilometers where you can see dance styles such as caporales and morenadas. However, it is the diabladas that steal all the attention of the public.