Latin America is a region of varieties, landscapes, and traditions; where people like to celebrate and party. From Mexico with its "Día de Los Muertos" to Uruguay with its longest carnival in the world, you will be amazed by how important celebrations are in Latino's lives. We will always find an occasion to celebrate and welcome foreigners to have fun with us. Let me introduce you to some of the most important festivals in the continents.
1- Día de Los Muertos
Imagine having a festivity where the main reason is to honor and pay respects to family and friends that have died. Usually, in most cultures, people mourn when remembering someone that has passed away. But in Mexico, the purpose of this multi-day holiday is to celebrate the lives of your loved ones. During these days you can expect to see "Calaveras" and “ofrendas" as well as thousands of people visiting graves. At the same time, it is common to decorate the graves usually with altars in a way to “guide” the souls onto a good path after death.
Did you know that popularly usually November 1st is to commemorate deceased kids and November 2nd adults?
Carnaval can be considered one of the most popular festivals around the world. From Venice in Italy to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil it celebrates diversity and cultural variety where rhythms and costumes are its essences.
In Uruguay, we celebrate the longest carnival in the world which is held between the end of January and the beginning of March. This party, where music and color are the main characters, lasts around forty
days. I invite you to visit the country during these days to also experience “El Desfile de llamadas” which evoques the gatherings of slaves during the 18th and 19th centuries. I have attended it many times and seen people from all over the world enjoying it and
it makes me extremely proud to see them dancing to the rhythm of the “Candombe” (typical Uruguayan style of music).
In Brazil, each carnival group chooses a topic and creates a show of around 80 minutes duration. The contagious music, the costumes and the amazing choreographies make “El Carnaval de Rio” one of the most important celebrations around the globe.
3- International Tango Festival
You have probably heard about tango before: a sensual and seductive musical genre typical from Uruguay and Argentina which is currently considered intangible heritage by UNESCO. The International Tango festival is a yearly event held in Argentina where tourists and aficionados can enjoy live tango performances, shows, competitions, films, and exhibitions. I also encourage you to try taking Tango classes. You will love it! Make sure you are familiar with some Spanish expressions related to Tango: bacán (a person with a good life quality), malandra (thief), amarrete (stingy), and many more. In 2020, during my visit to Buenos Aires, I got amazed by how passionate Argentineans are about Tango so I decided to try a night Tango class at a local school. What an unforgettable experience! It made me appreciate local traditions and discover passions I didn’t even know I had.
4- Día de la Diversidad Cultural
On October 12th, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean marking an era of expansion and cultural mixtures where different civilizations merged. For many years, this date was celebrated and considered a moment of conquest.
Nowadays, Latin Americans are starting to approach this date with more respect and more carefully as millions of lives were lost and local traditions were lost. Every country is naming this occasion differently: Día del respeto a la diversidad cultural (day of respect to cultural diversity) in Argentina, Día de la Resistencia indígena (day of indigenous endurance) in Mexico, Venezuela
and Nicaragua; and in some countries like Peru, Panama, and Cuba it is not a national holiday.
If you happen to be visiting some countries in South America on October 12th you will witness colorful and emotional celebrations to honor our ancestors.
5- Rock in Rio
Probably you were expecting to find only historical celebrations in this article. But I really want to tell you about one of the largest music festivals in the world: Rock in Rio. Originally made in Brazil, nowadays the festival can be experienced in many cities, such as Lisboa, Madrid, and Las Vegas. On its first edition, 1.38 million people attended the 10-day-long festival.
I was lucky enough to assist Rock in Rio in 2017 being able to see bands like Maroon 5, Aerosmith, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I will never forget that amazing moment where I got the chance to make long-lasting friends.
“La Ciudad Maravillosa”, a marvelous city Brazilians like to call Rio de Janeiro, is among the most important cities in South America, being a very important economic hub, and also home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. The Brazilian vibe plus the good weather, makes you want to stay in this city forever.
Tell me what you think!
How are the celebrations in your continent? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know :)