Travel insights from Jenna Buege, associate editor of The Compass

Party All Year Long with These South American Festivals and Traditions

A fascinating mix of architectural wonder, shimmering beaches and flavorful dishes, South America is bright, vibrant and beautiful. This buzzing destination also happens to be hopping with fantastic cultural celebrations year-round, making for the perfect excuse for travelers to embrace tradition and party like a local.

January – Love Parade in Santiago, Chile

Born in Berlin in 1989, the Love Parade is the biggest electronic carnival in the world. In 2004, this iconic celebration branched out to other countries and cities around the world including Santiago, Chile where travelers can marvel at elaborate floats and party with 100s of DJs. The event takes place in January and includes acts from both local and visiting DJs.

February to March – Carnival in Rio de Janerio

Brazil’s largest festival and the world’s biggest celebration, Rio de Janerio’s Carnival is the party of a lifetime. To pull off the world’s best shindig, life in Rio comes to a halt in late February and early March as streets close down to welcome drinking, dancing and fun. Elaborate costumes can be seen left and right, but the real fun is had in the Sambadrome, the open-air venue where party-goers are packed shoulder to shoulder as visitors shimmy and shake to the sound of steel drums and bedazzled samba dancers give it their all.

March – National Grape Harvest Festival in Argentina

A celebration with no shortage of dance, lights and music, Argentina’s National Grape Harvest Festival is a spectacular show that takes place at Mendoza’s Frank Romero Day Greek Theater. Each March more than 20,000 people attend this event to catch traditional acts such as The Blessing of the Fruits, a religious ceremony to the Gods; The Via Blanca de las Renias, a fabulous parade where a queen sits atop each float: and The Carrusel de Vendimia, an additional parade where participants dress as Argentine cowboys to remind spectators of Mendoza’s colonial days. Each event leads up to Acto Central, the grand finale where over 1,000 actors and dancers put on a spectacular show.

June 24 – Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) in Peru

Peruvians ring in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice with style each year on June 24 with Inti Raymi, an elaborate Incan festival celebrating the sun. While the Inti Raymi of ancient times consisted of a parade of well-to-do mummies and an alarming number of llama sacrifices (200!), the Inti Raymi of today is much tamer with cultural reenactments and just one animal sacrifice at the end of the celebration. The event begins at dawn at Korikancha, the Incan Temple of the Sun, and travels a short distance procession-style to Cusco’s Plaza de Armas where the Inca Empire’s fate for the upcoming year is determined via a ceremonial coca leaf reading. The procession then continues to Saqsayhuman, an ancient Inca archaeological site, where the final parts of the reenactment are played out.

August – Festival of Flowers, Colombia

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A celebration of paisa (peoples from the northwest region of Colombia) culture, this massive ten-day festival is one of the hottest social events in the city of Medellin. Packed with activities big and small, the Festival of Flowers calendar is jam-packed with over 400 events. Some of the main attractions for tourists include live music, the famous orchid competition, horse rides and the Silleteros Parade. The first Silleteros Parade was held in 1957 to flaunt the beauty of regional flowers to the public, a move not so well-received by people in the lower-class who kept to quietly selling their own flowers throughout the capital. However, over time the event grew and became much loved by the people of Medellin and Colombia as families and farmers journeyed through the city streets to showcase and admire the beautiful scenery.

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