‘Tis the season in South America to drink, dance, and drink some more. If you are traveling or living in South America, you have probably been inundated with news about Carnaval (Carnival), a huge celebration that happens before the predominantly Christian denominational observance of Lent. For approximately two weeks, starting at the end of January to the second weekend of February, South America turns into one massive party. So where are the best places to observe the pandemonium?
Below are a few spots that are ideal to visit during the high season of Carnival:
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The Carniaval that takes place in Brazil is voted by the Guiness World Records as the largest gathering of people out of all Carnavals that take place throughout the world. The parade consists of some of the most talented dancers in the world who dance to samba, traditional folkdance, and sport some of the glitziest and grandiose costumes you will ever see. Your mind will be blown if you are able to score tickets to see the show, but it comes with a hefty price tag, especially for tourists. If you are traveling to Brazil during Carnaval season, plan to arrive a few weeks early to get set up in a hostel, and ask around to the locals for cheaper and more affordable options.
That little country that sits on the North Atlantic Coast of South America has deemed Carnaval as one of the most important celebrations of their countries cultural heritage. The Carnaval traditions integrate a strong creole traditional presence as the parades are filled with afro-Brazilian grooves, traditional creole food like smoked fish and prawns, and a heart-thumping beat that will spring you into an alternate reality. During Carnaval in French Guiana, people tend to stop their daily routines, and completely submerse themselves into the insanity of carnival mayhem. If you are looking for a unique experience of Carnival, French Guiana may be the perfect option.
Carnaval de Oruro, Bolivia
Carnaval is huge in Bolivia. The party begins at the beginning of January in all cities and towns of Bolivia and moves at full force until the second week of February. Culturally in Bolivia, the men come together two weeks before the Carnaval de Oruro, and celebrate ¨Conpadres¨, where the men get together and celebrate being boys and their friendship, while consuming massive amounts of beer and food. The following week, the girls get together and celebrate ¨Conmadres¨ which, you guessed it, is the celebration of womanhood and the camaraderie that exists between a woman and her close friends. The second of February, thousands of people flock to Oruro, a city that sits at about 12,000 feet in central Bolivia to celebrate La Diablada, a celebration to honor the patron saint of the minors. The carnival in Oruro is considered one of the best, so if you are looking for a fun, but extremely economical option, this would be it.
Have you celebrated Carnaval in South America? Where?