12 Summer Festivals that Rock in South America

Beat the summer heat in South America this summer. Near the equator, countries like Ecuador experience the rainy season and other areas are cooler.

It's perfect weather to visit community and regional festivals. If you are planning a visit to South America over the summer it's a great idea to plan it around a summer festival. Not only is it a good time but it's a great way to learn more about the local culture and to join in with the celebrations.

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Inti Raymi, Peru

Inti Raymi in Cusco
Image (c)Carlos Diaz

Inti was the god of the sun for the Quechua people of the Inca Empire, and this festival was originally held on the winter solstice in Peru to celebrate and honor Inti.

The festival was outlawed following the arrival of the conquistadors in the sixteenth century to ensure it didn't rival any Christian festivals, but was revived as a historical reconstruction in the mid twentieth century.

Today visitors can enjoy the amazing performances of indigenous dancers and musical performers before the historic site of Sacsayhuaman near the city of Cusco, which makes this a special place to enjoy a marvelous spectacle.

02 of 12

Bumba-Meu-Boi, Brazil

Bumba Meu Boi Masks
Peter and Jackie Main

This fun festival held in the north and northeast of Brazil celebrates the story of a mythical bull which is killed, but is then brought back to life.

The story is told through a performance that parades through the streets of the town, accompanied by a band and a range of performers dressed as oxen and other characters from the story.

This is a perfect festival for those who like to get involved as the  crowds heckle the villains in the story.

03 of 12

The Aymara New Year, Bolivia

Tiwanaku Wall

The most important celebration of this event is held at dawn on the Winter Solstice at the historic site of Tiwanaku. The best was to reach this site is from the city of La Paz, where there is always a fleet of buses carrying locals and visitors to the site the night before the event.

Shamans preside over the festival, performing a ceremony which includes saying prayers and chanting. The aim is to ask gods to provide a bountiful harvest in the upcoming year.

As the day continues, the festival becomes more of a celebration, with plenty of local food and drink to enjoy.

04 of 12

Fiesta de La Tirana, Chile

Held every year in mid July, this festival honors the Virgen del Carmen. Many of the quarter of a million people who visit the La Tirana area every year are here to enjoy the religious side of the festival.

However, this is also a great spectacle outside religion. The famous and distinctive 'dance with the devil' performances are a popular part of the event, with large dancing groups including some characters that are dressed as the devil. The streets of the quiet village turn into a mass of people in celebration, while this event is also the destination of a pilgrimage for many people.

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05 of 12

Feria de las Flores, Colombia

(c) Baconismagic.ca

This annual festival draws hundreds of thousands of people to Medellin for a week in August every year.

Almost every home is decorated in its best blooms, while the famous parade of flower vendors through the streets is an amazing explosion of color with all kinds of blooms on show.

There are also plenty of other events, including a parade of equestrian performers, folk music concerts and flower arranging and growing workshops.

06 of 12

Q'oyoriti, Peru

Ausangate Sunset

Held in late May or early June every year, this festival is held in the foothills beneath the mountain Ausangate, which is tremendously significant in Inca mythology.

There are special parades from the nearby churches to the mountain shrines. Individuals are nominated to climb the glaciers and retrieve chunks of ice, which are said to have healing properties.

There are also dance troupes that perform in the shrine during the festival, with several different groups having important roles to play and particular costumes to wear during the event.

07 of 12

Yamor Festival, Ecuador

Otavalo Countryside
©2006 Ron Miller, All Rights Reserved http://www.RonTravel.com

Held during the first two weeks of September, this festival is one that celebrates the harvest of the previous fall, and beseeches the gods to support the crops for the year to come.

In Otavalo, There are a series of performances of folk music and dancing, along with bullfighting and a range of traditional food and drink to try during the event.

One of the highlights is the two and a half mile swim across San Pablo Lake, which is traditionally attempted in the nude, with swimmers greasing themselves with animal fat to insulate themselves for this physical challenge in the cold waters of the lake.

08 of 12

Fiesta de San Juan, Venezuela

Held in the town of Curiepe, this festival dates back to the era of slavery, when the black slave population that worked on the local plantations were given three days off to celebrate and to enjoy.

Today there are thousands of people who arrive in the town to celebrate this tradition, and to celebrate the music and culture of their people.

The festival beats to the rhythm of the drums for three days, while there are also ceremonies to honor Saint John the Baptist, and everyone traditionally wears the red and white clothing of celebration. 

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09 of 12

Festas Juninas, Brazil

Held in June every year at the start of the Brazilian winter, these traditional events celebrate the life of Saint John the Baptist, and were introduced by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century.

There is a great emphasis on tradition during the event, with citizens in towns and villages meeting at a large tent in an open area where to enjoy the food, drink and music.

One of the most popular parts of the festival is the quadrilha, a traditional dance where everyone gets to take part and join in the wonderful atmosphere. 

10 of 12

Fiesta de la Nieve, Chile

El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina
Peter Adams / Getty Images

This snow festival is celebrated in the Patagonian regions of Chile and Argentina. This town of Puerto Williams in Chile is a great place to enjoy the event as it is the southernmost town in the world.

The festival happens in mid-July and celebrates the snow with winter sports and rodeo contests, along with a beauty queen being crowned in some fairly chilly surroundings. There is also great music from local bands along with plenty of food and drink to keep you warm as the temperatures drop. 

11 of 12

Nanduti Festival, Paraguay

Held in the town of Itagua just outside the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, this festival celebrates the traditional Nanduti lace, which is a cloth used in many traditional garments and textile products in Paraguay.

It is a great place to buy these products, and are also competitions for those who produce the lace to enter their best work.

Outside lace, there are also stand up comedy performances and musical acts to keep the visitors entertained, along with the telling of the legend of the mother who wanted to create a beautiful cape for her son, who is said to have been the first to create the Nanduti lace framework.

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Independence Day, Argentina

Teatro Colon
Peter and Jackie Main

Independence Day in Argentina celebrates when the country achieved its independence, 9 July 1816. The 2016 celebrations will be particularly important as they mark two centuries of independence. 

Buenos Aires is home to the Colon Theater, where traditional plays are performed to the audience, while the churches across the country also hold special services to mark the occasion.

There are also political and patriotic parades that celebrate the Argentine identity, and you will also find plenty of live music performances during the evening to enjoy too.

These are just a fraction of the amazing festivals you can experience this summer in South America, the most difficult thing is to choose which one to visit.

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