Situated at dizzying heights in the arid Altiplano region of Bolivia is a mining town home to one of the most famous festivals in all of South America.
Each year on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, the usually sleepy Oruro comes alive, hosting the world renowned Carnival. The unique festival features spectacular folk dances, extravagant costumes, beautiful crafts, lively music, and up to 20 hours of continuous partying.
A party like no other, Oruro Carnival is Bolivia’s most sought after tourist attraction, drawing crowds of up to 400,000 people annually. Whilst the festival is celebrated throughout most of the country, Oruro is without doubt the most popular, offering a memorable experience for all those involved.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Bolivia at this time of year, Oruro Carnival is one fiesta not to be missed!
Long before Spanish settlement, the ancient town of Uru Uru (the pre-hispanic name for Oruro) was a religious destination for the Aymara and Quechua people of the Andes. Locals would worship Andean deities, praying for protection and giving thanks to Pachamama. The Uru people also revered their gods by celebrating Ito; the religious festival from which Carnival is thought to have originated.
In 1606 the Spanish founded today’s Oruro using the land, already being mined by the Indigenous population, as a base for obtaining the rich minerals in the surrounding hills. In conjunction with their land being taken away, the locals were used as laborers for the Europeans who encroached on their religion with the introduction of Christianity.