Everyone loves a festival, they’re a great excuse to let your hair down, relax and have fun. Although there may be a vast selection of festivals in the UK to choose from why not cast your net a bit wider and check out what South American festivals have to offer. With stunning scenery and once in a life time cultural experiences, South American festivals can offer you something a little more exotic than the warm ciders and leaky tents that the average British fest offers. So if you fancy jetting off to the southern hemisphere here’s few festivals that shouldn’t be missed.
Tapati Rapa Nui, Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island located off the western coast of Chile may be best known for its monolithic heads. However every year in February the island plays host to Tapati Rapa Nui, the festival of manly strength and womanly grace; a celebration of culture and the welcoming of visitors.
Unlike many other island festivals, Tapati Rapa Nui is a festival for locals by the loacals and although tourists are welcomed on to the island, the festival is not a commercial show. The Festival is a celebration of Polynesian pride and is a world away from festivals used to encourage tourism. At Tapati Rapa Noi you get a real sense of authenticity alongside an amazing celebration, complete with dancing signing and a parade.
Confirmed dates: Saturday 1st February – Saturday 15th February.
Los Diablos Danzanthes, Venezuela
Have you ever wondered how Venezuelans celebrate the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi? Well, they dress like devils and dance around the street of course! While many places celebrate Corpus Christi and good triumphing over evil, nowhere does it quite like San Francisco de Yare. Every year townsfolk don red clothing and devil masks whilst dancing in the streets before kneeling in front of the church in a metaphorical surrender to good.
The Dancers belong to a group called promeseros (promise-keepers) and act to pass on the countries cultural heritage through oral history. Each family make their own colourful mask which often take all year to produce. Diablos Danzantes has recently been added to UNESCO’s Representational List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This one of a kind blend of religion and creative expression is one of the most unique South American festivals, and promotes a strong sense of cultural identity and community in Venezuela.
Confirmed Dates: Thursday 19 June
Inti Raymi, Peru, Cusco
Inti Raymi is an ancient Incan festival festival of the sun dating back 500 years to the Inca’s heyday. Back then it involved mass sacrifice to appease the sun god, Inti. But don’t worry if you’re squeamish: gone are the days of ritual killing and today in Peru the event is only a re-enactment of the original ceremony and a celebration of the winter solstice. Every June thousands of Peruvians and tourists descend on the ancient Incan capital of Cusco to witness one of the biggest of all South American festivals and to enjoy the fantastic Peruvian food and music.
These days the action takes place in the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán, where chairs are available to rent so you can enjoy the show with an element of comfort. After the ceremonial sacrifice has been completed the party roles down into Cusco’s main square where dancing, singing and drinking become the order of the day.
Confirmed Date: Tuesday 24 June
Wherever you choose to visit in South America, there will be a celebration or festival of one kind or another. There aren’t many better ways to experience South American culture than to share in celebration with the people who live there. However strange some of the customs may seem it is always best to go with an open mind and a positive attitude and – of course – always remember you’re a guest!