Festival: Carnaval de Oruro

Carnaval de Oruro

Carnaval de Oruro is the number one tourist attraction in Bolivia.  It takes place in the county’s fifth largest city called Oruro.  Located between La Paz and Sucre, Oruro was founded in 1606 as a place for silver mining.  Now the only mining that takes place is for tin but the main attraction to the city is for the Carnaval de Oruro.

When

 

The carnival begins different times each year because it ends on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French and Martes Gordo in Spanish).  So the carnival takes place 10 days before Lent (Ash Wednesday).  What makes this carnival different from the others in the area is the mix of Catholic ideal and ancient pagan expression coming together to make up Oruro’s rich cultural history.

 

Festival: Carnaval de Oruro

 

Carnaval de Oruro tells the story of how the Spaniards conquered the indigenous populations of the Andes.  Along with mixes of stories and legends with indigenous roots about good and evil.  All of this comes together in the form of bright elaborate costumes and dances.  Everything from a Catholic priest to a devil makes up the costumes of the parade.  The Catholic priest represents the attempt to convert the indigenous people to Catholicism.  The devil represents El Tio who is the owner of the mines minerals and transforms into the devil for the carnival.

 

Festival: Carnaval de Oruro

 

As of 2001, the festival is a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.   Also, it is considered one of the great folkloric events in South America.

 

Festival: Carnaval de Oruro

 

The parade stretches 4 miles (6.4 km) with 48 groups with around 28,000 dancers, 10,000 musicians, and 400,000 visitors soaking in this more than 2,000-year-old tradition.

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