No matter where you travel to in the word, attending a cultural festival is pretty much always a good idea. Mixing ethnic tradition, history, and, well…partying, a good festival features upbeat music, savory food, massive crowds, and lots of fun.
And some of the most famous festivals in the world are in Latin America. We’re sure you’ve heard of these celebrations. From Mexico to the southernmost tip of South America, they radiate culture and rhythm. But have you ever thought about going to one?
Sure, it can be tough determine which country or which specific event you should set your sights on, but with the right research and planning you can find the perfect festival experience for you. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up six of incredible events throughout the region with everything you need to know about them.
So read on for a rundown of 6 festivals in Latin America that need to be checked out!
Carnival — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Don’t forget to practice your dance moves! Carnival in Rio is a magical 5-day celebration like no other, attracting almost 2 million visitors annually from around the globe. It’s a non-stop party of dance-offs, memorable floats, upbeat music, and food. Oh, and let’s not forget the costumes featuring massive headpieces, feathers, and brightly-colored two-piece outfits. The festival is carried out over 100 blocks with different bands from every neighborhood. And while Carnival is a celebration held in other parts of the world, Rio’s Carnival is undoubtedly the largest and most famous. The party begins on Friday and ends on Fat Tuesday, right before the beginning of the Lenten season. So if you dream of traveling to Brazil, plan to go during the festival, because you don’t want to miss it!
Day of the Dead Kite Festival — Sumpango, Guatemala
Those who’ve passed may be gone but never forgotten…especially on the Day of the Dead. The holiday is cheerful and festive, celebrates the deceased with colorful decor, decorated grave sites, and traditional foods. Although Day of the Dead (November 1) is a celebration practiced globally, in Guatemala‘s Kite Festival is like no other Day of the Dead celebration in the world. It takes place in the town of Sumpango and began over 500 years ago. The tradition is to fly kites as high as possible to reach the spirits of your deceased loved ones. When you arrive, you’ll stand beside massive kites with beautiful stories told on each that are put on display throughout the festival.
The Snow Star Festival — Peru
This may not be for most tourists, but if you’re up for an adventure and ready to experience an extremely unique tradition, then get ready to hike to the Sinakara Valley located deep in the Andes mountains of Peru. The Snow Star Festival is a three-day event that takes place during the full moon in late May, early June. Over tens of thousands of pilgrims come to honor the Lord of the Snow Star and visit the highest sanctuary of the world at 4,800 meters above sea level. The festival is very spiritual and honors ancient traditions and ceremonies as well as Christian beliefs and festivities. Here, you’ll see non-stop performances from dancers and musicians with drums and flutes. All are welcome to join in on the festivities, but not everyone may be physically able to make it. The thin mountain air can make it difficult to follow the ancient tradition of hiking to the festival so driving or riding on horseback part of the way may be a better option.
The Tango Festival — Buenos Aires, Argentina
Whether you’re a pro at dancing the tango or you enjoy watching the classical yet fierce dance, then you’ll love everything about this festival. The Tango Festival, held in Buenos Aires is the world’s largest tango festival with the best contenders from around the world. The event is organized by the city’s government and runs for two weeks in the month of August. And the best part? Admission tickets are free! Besides non-stop dancing, there’s concerts, shows, lessons, and more. With nearly half a million attendees you’re guaranteed to have a blast (if you don’t mind a large crowd).
Mistura — Lima, Peru
Calling all foodies! The largest food festival in Latin America, known as Mistura, takes place during the first two weeks of September in Lima. You can taste and experience a variety of food and drinks along with the hundreds of thousands who flock to this delicious festival. If you’re unfamiliar with Peruvian food, it’s a variety of everything from fish to meats and every dish is made with delicious spices and herbs like aji, cilantro, huacatay, and oregano. At Mistura the entrance fee is around $8, and you’ll find more than 50 restaurants, 70 food truck, and about 16 rustic kitchens as well as cool food trends created by Peru’s top chefs.
The Love Parade — Santiago, Chile
Electronic dance music festivals are mostly upbeat and nothing short of an awesome time. So it’s no surprise the world’s largest dance music festival would be called “The Love Parade.” Held in Santiago, Chile, this event is a non-stop party with constant music from over 100 DJs. The festival takes place every year in January over a distance of 2.5 miles. The Love Parade is definitely a high-energy event that is perfect for those looking for a party scene. Just remember to bring comfortable dancing shoes because the fun usually continues after hours.
Ever been to a festival in Latin and/or South America, other than the ones mentioned above? We’d love to hear about it, leave the details in the comment section below!