Latin America is one of the most diverse, multi ethnic and culturally richest places on Earth. The mixture between pre-Columbian cultures and colonial and modern societies have turned it into one of the most appealing tourist destinations worldwide. And we at World Volunteering proudly offer amazing volunteer experiences there for any avid traveller on a gap year, career break, summer holidays or just willing to give something back while travelling responsibly and gaining from intercultural exchange.
But before you are set to travel to the other end of the world to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, you should find out a bit more about some the most colourful and richest celebrations they host so to try and mark it on your schedule and make some plans to be a part of them while volunteering with us!
1. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is by far the ultimate party and world’s most famous one! It’s the most visited event in South America every year and it gets filled with over 2.000.000 people from all over the globe!!!
Basically Carnival is a four day religious celebration prior to Lent in February and with big cultural significance. It’s also held in other South American countries such as Argentina, Peru, Uruguay and Bolivia, but no one does it as in Rio! It’s a time of joy and celebration; it’s basically the best time for dancing, singing, partying and having huge amounts of fun. Parties take place all over Rio; in the streets, clubs, bars and beaches, and it all ends with the Rio Parade where you will be able to see about 200 samba schools competing for first place!
Get ready to witness some unbelievable dancing moves, costumes, and nonstop music and partying!
Rio is an amazing place to visit by itself but combining it with the Carnival it’s an out of this world experience!
2. Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun), Peru
Mark your calendars: June 24th in Cuzco is a must! Every year this city celebrates the Inti Raymi, the most famous pre Columbian festival, also known as the Inca festival of the Sun. And they do it with processions that go all over the city, accompanied with vibrant music, dancing, flowers, people sweeping away evil spirits and many other unique surprises!
The Sun was the Inca’s most revered God and since 1400 they’ve been running this festival to honour him by sacrificing animals in his name. Nowadays there are no longer sacrifices made although there’s an actor chosen to portray the Sopa Inca (Emperor) and the whole ceremony ends with a simulation of a llama Sacrifice at the hilltop of Sacsayhuaman where the main events take place.
Nowadays a huge number of street parties, dances, processions and fiestas are held in and around Cuzco during the last week of June, turning this into the country’s most popular cultural event.
3. Day of the Dead, Mexico.
Yes, you’ve read it correctly, day of the Dead! Mexico's most characteristic fiesta is the wonderfully macabre “Dia de los Muertos” which takes place in November 1st and 2nd encompassing two celebrations: all Saint's Day (to honour people who died as children), and All Souls day (to honour souls who died in adulthood.
I know it seems a bit ghoulish and morbid but it’s absolutely the opposite. It’s a quite natural celebration over there and the mood is lively and upbeat! It’s actually quite hard to find a more colourful and happy festival! So expect to see people gathering at the cemeteries bringing candles, bread of the dead, beer, tequila, things to decorate the graves, burning incense and a lot of food for the dead!
4. Holly Week in Antigua, Guatemala
Easter celebration is Huge in Latin America and every country celebrates it with a different twist! In Guatemala for instance they do a week-long event in the colonial city of Antigua featuring processions, carpet making and candlelight vigils.
During the whole week you will see locals adorning floats with flowers and sculptures of Christ on the Cross, and laying on the streets the beautiful carpets made of sawdust and covered in pine needles, fruits and vegetables!
On Friday celebrations get to their higher point when the streets get filled with spectators, live music and costumes!
5. Wine Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina
Argentinean Malbec wine is one of the best ones, so just travelling to Mendoza where it comes from and enjoying its taste surrounded by the mountains is a beautiful trip by itself! But if you manage to travel the first weekend of March and join the Wine Harvest Festival, even better!
Harvest is a reason to celebrate so you can get ready for singing, parades, concerts and a carnival like atmosphere that ends with an open air show with music dances and fireworks!
It all ends with the selection of the Harvest Queen of the year!
If these destinations and popular celebrations are appealing to you please mark them on your calendars so to join out Latin American volunteer projects on those dates! We have lots of amazing destinations, communities, wildlife and opportunities waiting for you here