Traveling to South America this Fall? Here's What is Going On!

Rio de Janeiro Pride Parade
••• (c)Alobos Life

South America is a lively continent anytime of the year. But in colder weather it's important to know that the seasons are reversed below the equator.

This means that you will see the activities of farmers going into springtime and preparing to sow their crops in rural areas. And while around the equator the temperatures are fairly steady throughout the year, many areas of the continent have their dry season this time of year.

Along with the onset of spring, there are also plenty of activities and events to be enjoyed in South America this fall, and here are some of the highlights of the celebrations that are worth visiting in the region.                                                                       

The Day of the Dead, Across the Continent

These celebrations to honor dead ancestors are held in early November in line with the Catholic tradition of All Saints Day. However, in South America these festivals have some elements from the indigenous cultural beliefs woven into the events too.

Halloween has also become a growing part of the festival, particularly in cities which have a greater Western influence, although the traditional celebrations are particularly notable in Brazil and Ecuador. In Brazil, churches and cemeteries have families lighting candles and celebrating the lives of deceased relatives. Whereas in Ecuador families gather in the cemeteries where they share traditional foods including a spiced fruit porridge known as colada morada.

In Cuenca, these celebrations are combined with the preparations for the Independence Day of the city, which is celebrated on 3 November, the day following the Day of the Dead. This is a particularly raucous and exciting time to visit the Ecuadorean city.

El Senor de los Milagros, Lima, Peru

The history of this festival dates back to the seventeenth century, when an image of Jesus Christ at the crucifixion had been painted by an African slave who had been brought to Peru from Angola.

The city of Lima was struck by a devastating earthquake, but as much of the surrounding area was demolished, the wall holding this painting remained untouched, and became known as the 'Lord of Miracles'.

Today this painting is celebrated in October every year with a procession through the streets of the city, which draws hundreds of thousands of people, where the streets are festooned with purple decorations as a part of the celebration.

Oktoberfest, Blumenau, Brazil

This is one of the biggest parties enjoyed in Brazil outside of the carnival in Rio. The city of Blumenau celebrates its German population during the Oktoberfest celebrations, with plenty of activities, food and drink.

Oktoberfest in Blumenau is believed to be the largest celebration in South America. It takes place at the Germanic Village Park, and begins with the task of choosing the annual Oktoberfest Queen. There are also plenty of traditional events including German singing, folk dancing and music. Perhaps one of the more interesting activities is the competition to drink a meter of beer, from one of the specially produced glasses with their long necks being another of the popular events of the festival.

Fiestas Patrias, Santiago, Chile

Held on September 18th and 19th each year, the Fiestas Patrias are a patriotic festival in Chile that not only celebrates the independence of the country, but also celebrates the role of the country's military in Chilean history.

There are many activities held during the two days, with most taking place around the Plaza de Armas. It is home to several parades after the opening of the festival by the Archbishop of Santiago. Along with the parades and the waving of Chilean flags.

Another act of patriotism is the preparation and sharing of traditional food and drink, and this will often include Chilean empanadas, filled with ground beef, onions, eggs, olives and raisins. Chicha and pisco are both liberally consumed during the event, particularly later into the evening, while the traditional alfajores are a popular dessert during the Fiestas Patrias. 

Buenos Aires Gay Pride, Argentina

This annual parade takes place on the second Saturday in November and is one of the largest parades in South America with over 100,000 attendees.

Buenos Aires is often considered to be one of the most European influenced cities in South America, but the celebrations have music with a bold South American rhythm.  There is plenty of entertainment provided along the route, with floats that are at the heart of the parade being grand and elaborately decorated, while there are also several art shows and cinema festivals held in the city to accompany the Buenos Aires Gay Pride parade.

READ: Top 7 Cities for Gay Travelers in South America

Mama Negra, Latacunga, Ecuador

This religious celebration draws Catholic and indigenous influences during the events held in late September, and held again for the second time of the year in the second week of November to match the Independence Day events.

The story says that in 1742 the volcano that overlooks the town was close to destroying Latacunga, but that local people prayed to the Virgin of Mercy, along with the black slaves that had been brought to work here. The Mama Negra festival was created to celebrate the town being spared.

The events feature a large parade where mythic characters perform through the streets, while there is a great party that goes on late into the night. The one tradition of this festival that is often debated by visitors, but accepted by the locals is that the Mama Negra herself will have her face blackened for the event. Locals say this honors the black slaves and their role praying for the town.

READ: The Monasteries in Quito

Cartagena Independence Celebrations, Colombia

The liberation of South America from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial forces was something that happened gradually over several years. However, Cartagena was one of the earliest cities to declare independence.

Marking November 11, 1811 when the declaration took place, these annual celebrations are a colorful and riotous party. It's fueled with great passion and patriotism for the city and will often last for the week before November 11th.

There's plenty of music and parties, and locals often dress up in elaborate colorful costumes with large headpieces. The tradition of throwing firecrackers means creates plenty of noise, and people also love to throw water and foam at each other in a good natured way during the celebrations too.

Puno Week, Peru

This festival is held in November in the city of Puno near Lake Titicaca. Every year this beautiful festival celebrates the life of the legendary Inca leader Manco Capac. Puno Week includes a series of events depicting and celebrating the legendary leader. Local folklore states Manco Capac arose from the waters of Lake Titicaca to lead the Inca people.

With traditional dancing and music takes center stage as the festival builds throughout the week, culminating with a grand parade where thousands of local people dress in grand costumes. During the day they march through the city with great spirited noise and music and in the evening there is no shortage of local beer and spirits to help keep the party going throughout the night.

Semana Musical Llao Llao, Bariloche, Argentina

The town of Bariloche is often considered to be a little piece of Switzerland in the Andean highlands of Argentina. It's not surprising with its beautiful mountains and lakes, and a great history of producing chocolate here.

Semana Musical Llao Llao takes place at the grand Llao Llao hotel on the fringes of the town. It features a series of the best classical music performers in the world playing concerts over eight days in the last week of October. The first festival was held in 1993, and it has gone from strength to strength since then, attracting the best classical musical talent from Argentina and many big stars from across the world. 

DON'T MISS: Best Musical Festivals in South America