February is Carnival time

Diablada mask Carnival Puno

February is festival season in South America from one of the biggest in the world, the riotous colourful spectacle that is carnival in Brazil to the lesser known but equally impressive version in Oruro Bolivia. One of the biggest festivals in Peru runs over the first two weeks of the month showcasing parades and dancing. La Candelaria as with many other Latin American festivals has a strong duality, on the one hand, a Catholic tradition and on the other, the indigenous people’s celebration of Pachamama (Mother Earth). The town of Puno celebrates with particular fervour due to a legend of the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria being surrounded by such a blinding light that attackers of the city believed a huge army had gathered to protect her and left the city alone. A colourful procession carries the statue around the city with dancers in lavish costumes from all areas joining the parade. A recurring theme in both the Oruro festival and the Puno is the Danza del Diablada or Dance of the Devil which began during the Spanish colonization to teach the local natives the Christian faith and the relation between good and evil. Recreated with costumes of angels and demons, the elaborate Devil masks are definitely a sight to behold. Our Footsteps of the Incas journey goes to both Peru and Bolivia.

RELATED: Latin America’s most colourful festivals

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