The Spanish Language Blog

In the Netherlands, everyone has heard of the term "carnival. Either because you have celebrated it in one of the southern provinces of the Netherlands or because of the spectacular summer carnival in Rio de Janeiro. But carnival is not only known there. It is also exuberantly celebrated in Spain and the rest of Latin America. Around February, Carnaval de Oruro is the biggest annual event that takes place in Bolivia's folkloric capital, Oruro. Since 2001, Carnaval de Oruro has been listed on UNESCO's List of Masterpieces and Oral Intangible Heritage of Man.  

  • Bolivia's biggest event and one of the largest carnival celebrations in Latin America.
  • In 2014, the carnival took place between Feb. 28 and March 3.
    The Carnival of Oruro has a unique, religious nature.

Carnival is celebrated in many ways in Spain and Latin America, but the Carnaval de Oruro is different from other carnival events. This folkloric celebration is special because of its religious nature: the adoration of the Virgin (Holy Virgin) Morena (dark-colored) del Socavón (the mine shaft). Also called Virgin de la Candelaria, the guardian saint of the mine shaft.

The event officially begins 8 days before Ash Wednesday with the same devil dance every year, the "Diablada. Unlike Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, where a different theme is chosen each year.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the three main days of the carnival. Friday is the day the ch'alla ritual is performed. This ritual is very important for the miners of Bolivia. During this ritual, the Tío de la Mina, the mythological god of the mine, is honored and thanked for its protection. After this ritual, the miners celebrate a big party. Saturday is the day of pilgrimage and the parade "La Entrada," in which as many as 50 dance groups from the area participate and then present various Bolivian dances. The 'La Entrada' continues into the early hours, until the first rays of sunshine appear on Sunday. During these early morning hours, all the groups mingle with the crowd to greet the Virgin de Socavón.   

Carnival de Oruro is a popular attraction every year. Many visitors arrive from home and abroad. Accommodation prices rise during the event and bookings often fill up early. The city is equipped with benches and bleachers, and tickets can be purchased on the spot from various vendors. Day trips to Oruro are even organized from La Paz (the capital of Bolivia). An excursion to a ch'alla ritual is also very popular with tourists.

After this ritual, there is a grand celebration that involves lots of water and foam. Tourists are often targeted, so be prepared!

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