November is a great time to visit South America. The weather is warming up and the crowds are winding down. It is no longer high season, which means more space for everyone.
There are lots of things to do and locals enjoy holidays without the crowds. There are many small-scale festivals, religious holidays, and local events throughout the 12 countries of South America. And then there are large, grandiose affairs that turn that whole city into one big celebration.
Take a look at the grand-scale festivals and holidays in South America in November.
In the first few days of November, you are going to want to go to Cuenca, Ecuador, the country's third-largest city. Both All Souls Day called Dia de los Difuntos, and the country's Independence Day are celebrated at the same time. It makes for a big-time party. Although Ecuador's independence occurred in August, the city of Cuenca was liberated earlier, thus the different independence celebration. On November 2 and November 3 prepare for a series of parties, parades, and general festivities, but be sure to make hotel reservations in advance as many locals flock to the city to celebrate and accommodations can be scarce.
The San Clemente Fair, also known as the Señor de los Milagros de San Clemente Feria, is a lively event with activities taking place before and after the main day of November 23.
During the fair, the streets of San Clemente host religious processions, music shows, and traditional dances, including regional marinera dance contests. In addition to the procession, there will be beauty contests, a motocross race, and bullfighting. It is Peru's largest religious procession and definitely one not to miss if you are around.
There are a number of things you can do in Peru in November.
Jazz lovers flock to Buenos Aires where it is possible to see live jazz music each night—jazz fest or not. Everything from classic bebop and jazz fusion to swing and nuevo tango is celebrated at the annual, six-day Buenos Aires Jazz Festival. The festival's been going since 2008 and plays host to some of the best international talent and local artists. Many events are free of charge.
Car racing fanatics flock to Sao Paulo for the Formula One World Championship races. The Grand Prix at Interlagos (a suburb of Sao Paulo) is one of those prime events, it is the second-to-the-last of the season. Motor racing started in Brazil before World War II with races in Rio de Janeiro starting in 1934. In 1940, Brazil's first track in Interlagos opened. Interlagos quickly gained a reputation as being a tough and demanding circuit with many challenging corners, elevation changes, a rough surface, and little room for error.
November 9 is the Day of the Skulls in Bolivia. This holiday is somewhat similar to Day of the Dead celebrated usually the first or second day in November in many Latin countries. In the Bolivian version, the people respect the tradition of the indigenous Andeans who, after the third day of a burial, would share the bones of a passed loved one.
A controversial part of this celebration (it is generally accepted, but not endorsed by the Catholic Church), is that a skull of an ancestor is often kept in the house to watch over the family. It is believed the skull passes on good luck. As such, people pray to the skulls. Each November 9, the skulls are given as offerings of thanks (with flowers, coca, or cigarettes) and may be taken to a cemetery in La Paz for a Mass and blessing.
Colombia has many holidays throughout the year but Cartagena's independence from Spain is one of the biggest. November 13 celebrates Independence of Cartagena Day, which first occurred in 1811. It is a national holiday. This fortified city located on the northern coast of Colombia is a large draw for tourists with its beautiful colonial buildings. It is often called the jewel of South America for its remarkable architecture.
Suriname celebrates its independence from the Netherlands on November 25. After being under Dutch rule for more than 200 years, the Republic of Suriname was declared independent in 1975. The country now celebrates each year at the Paramaribo Presidential Palace.
As with most national celebrations, the president addresses the country and hosts parades, receptions, and an annual marathon. The country's journey to independence had involved a coup d'etat and military rule. In fact, in the years prior to independence, 30 percent of the population emigrated to the Netherlands in fear of what would happen to the country when it branched out on its own.