Home Language Learning 8 Unforgettable Candelaria Festivals Throughout Peru, Latin America, and Past!

8 Unforgettable Candelaria Festivals Throughout Peru, Latin America, and Past!

8 Unforgettable Candelaria Festivals Throughout Peru, Latin America, and Past!


Probably the most recognizable celebration of la Fiesta de Candelaria (Candlemas) is held in Peru, however there’s excellent news for vacationers and Spanish learners of all ranges: Candlearia is widely known throughout Spain and Latin America, providing you with ample alternative to hitch in on the enjoyable! 

Select both the nice and cozy Spanish island of Tenerife to the shores of Lake Titicaca in Peru or Bolivia. Or, participate in a giant metropolis celebration in Mexico Metropolis. There’s even a parade on the water in Tlacotalpan! 

No matter your location, you’ll be a part of the devoted (it’s a vacation with Catholic origins in any case) and vacationers alike in experiencing this distinctive mix of traditions, cultures, and religions. Each area has its personal twist on the celebration, from distinctive music to can’t-miss road meals. 

Beneath, we’ll check out the origins of the vacation and dive into competition particulars. 

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What’s la Fiesta de la Candelaria? 

The celebration of La Fiesta de la Candelaria goes by many names. Amongst them are: 

  • Candlemas
  • Feast of the Presentation of the Lord/Jesus Christ
  • Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
  • La Chandeleur or Crêpe Day (French-speaking places) 
  • Lostag (Germany) 
  • Feast of Lights

It is likely one of the oldest feasts or celebration days within the historical past of the Catholic church, with writings referencing commemorations of the day going again to the 12 months 380. In modern-day celebrations, you’ll expertise a mix of Catholic custom and devotion with the cultural heritage of native indigenous cultures in addition to markers of the agricultural 12 months. 

In Catholic custom, today commemorates the day that the toddler Jesus was first dropped at the temple. On that day, his mom got here to finish the ritual of purification that was required of ladies 40 days after giving start to a child boy. This can be a day for a lot of pilgrims to go to sacred websites, go to mass, spectate a procession of a picture or statue of the Virgin of Candelaria, ask for a blessing of their work or journey, and present reverence. 

Additionally it is a time crammed with music, dance, folklore, costumes, lights, feasting, and household. The particular traditions and celebrations range relying on the situation and area, however the most well-liked occasions that draw vacationers from around the globe embrace: 

  • Parades and processions
  • Folkloric dance
  • Marching bands
  • Dance contests
  • Showcases of cultural heritage
  • Shows of peace and mutual respect
  • Regional meals
  • Distinctive souvenirs

Whereas probably the most well-known celebrations welcome vacationers, it’s a day that additionally unites household teams worldwide as they move down lengthy held traditions. 

When is la Fiesta de la Candelaria? 

February 2 is the primary day of the celebration. It takes place precisely 40 days after Christmas (December 25). 

This date marks the conclusion of the Christmas/Epiphany season, and is a day that many households and church buildings take down their Nativity scenes, Christmas decorations, and convey their candles to their church for use for the remainder of the 12 months. 

This date additionally marks the halfway level between the winter and spring solstice, and in lots of areas is an indicator of higher climate to return. The day’s emphasis is on the renewal of the agricultural 12 months, when employees will start making ready the land for planting. 

Consider it like Groundhog Day in the US—climate prediction performs a big half on today. A outdated poem reads: 

“If Candlemas be truthful and shiny, Then Winter can have one other flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter is not going to come not once more.” 

Whereas February 2 is the primary day of the celebration, Competition de Candelaria preparations start lengthy earlier than today, and actions typically prolong a number of days on both finish. If you happen to’re planning to journey for the primary occasion, contemplate arriving a couple of days early to get acclimated and benefit from the pleasure that leads as much as the massive day!

Celebrations in Spain, Latin America, and past 



On the Spanish Canary Islands, Candelaria is an exceptionally vital vacation. Positioned off the Northwest coast of Africa, these islands have lengthy named their patron saint because the “Virgin of Candelaria,” one in all many names for the Virgin Mary. Although native Guanche individuals first referred to her because the goddess Chaxiraxi, Catholic colonists later shifted her identification. 

Legend has it {that a} statue of this saint washed up on the seashores within the 1300s, the place native cattle herders found her and famous that nobody was capable of do any hurt to the statue. Locals actors are recognized to reenact this expertise in the course of the Candelaria competition! 

The Basilica of Candelaria, the primary shrine of the Virgin of Candelaria, is very common with guests. Mary, in a purple and gold gown adorned with flowers, is holding the toddler Jesus in a single arm and a candle within the different.  Households of younger youngsters, notably these born inside the previous 12 months, carry them to the church to be introduced to her, in reminiscence of the newborn Jesus being introduced on the temple for the primary time. 

Throughout the competition, you’re welcome to look at from exterior the church because the statue is carried out of the Basilica and into the streets to be commemorated, accompanied by bands and parades. 

The celebrations on February 2 are typically extra spiritual in nature, however the islands once more have a good time the Virgin of Candelaria on August 15 with dancing, meals, drink, and bonfires. This celebration extends all through mainland Spain since it is usually a public vacation. 

Inside celebrations in Spain, you’ll be able to count on: 

  • Mock bullfights
  • Consuming sangria
  • Parades and music
  • Horses with riders carrying torches
  • Easy candlelit parades or mass
  • Reenactments of the biblical tales
  • Parades with satan costumes
  • Bonfires


In 2014, UNESCO named the Candelaria celebration in Puno, Peru as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” Translation: If you need a deeper understanding of Peruvian tradition, Candelaria is the right place to begin. 

A visit to Puno is properly well worth the journey, because the celebrations that stretch by way of the primary two weeks of February are thought of one in all Peru’s largest cultural festivals. It is likely one of the prime three largest celebrations on the continent (together with Carnaval in Brazil and Bolivia)! 

Getting there 

The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of town of Puno, the place the primary celebration is held. You may get there by airplane, however as this is likely one of the hottest festivals, drawing 1000’s of holiday makers yearly, a flight can be pricey. Ebook prematurely! You would possibly contemplate flying into Cuzco and taking a bus the remainder of the way in which. The six hour bus journey will really feel like a blink as you marvel on the views of the Andes mountains. 

Puno is positioned on the shores of the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca. The altitude is one thing of an expertise should you’re not used to the skinny air. It’s a nice thought to reach a couple of days early should you can, giving your self time to relaxation and get acclimatized. Drink loads of water, too!

Pack layers of clothes, as you actually don’t know whether or not will probably be robust sunshine or bone-chilling rain. Many of the occasions are outdoor and never all seats are lined, so it’s good to be ready!


Music, dance, and conventional costume are central to the festivities of Candelaria! The phrase “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen all of them” couldn’t be much less relevant to this celebration! Teams representing myriad cultural traditions come collectively from all around the area to take part in parades, processions, and dance competitions. Every group is exclusive and phenomenal!

It’s a feast for the eyes, even earlier than the dances start. There’s costumes and clothes of each shade, most with elaborate masks and headpieces or braids and bowler hats. With all of the motion and dancing, it’d take you some time to understand what they’re made out of: every thing from feathers and fur to beads and embroidery. 

Respect the dedication and preparation of the dancers, as not solely do the contributors wake within the wee hours of the morning to begin doing hair, make-up, and costume, however they’ve seemingly been making ready and rehearsing because the earlier March. 

Every thing you’ll see has a cultural and historic significance to the group concerned. You’ll study extra in regards to the cultural traditions of the Quechua and Aymara individuals, in addition to these from Altiplano. These celebrations have introduced lots of of communities collectively, permitting them to construct bridges of mutual respect and commonality. 

In all, you’ll be entertained and amazed by the onerous work of over 40,000 dancers, 15,000 musicians, and 25,000 further contributors throughout clothes, choreography, and music. Dancing, singing, chants, and folkloric music proceed from morning till night time, by way of the streets and in plazas.

On show is a fusion of cultures and influences which have characterised this area, from the Pre Columbian traditions of honoring Pachamama (Mom Earth) to the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Whilst you take all of it in, don’t move up the prospect to pattern scrumptious road meals and snacks, bought by distributors with carts or on foot. 



Throughout the border within the metropolis of Copacabana, additionally positioned on shores of Lake Titicaca, you’ll discover one other enormous celebration of La Competition de Candelaria. 

You’ll discover lots of the identical festivities as in neighboring Peru. Amidst the solemnity of mass and spiritual processions, there are many full of life parades, bands, and unbelievable floral shows to soak up. 

The blessing of the boats

Catch a view of, and even take a brief voyage in, the boat procession that carries the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria yearly.*

Historical past says that in 1576 Inca fishermen had been caught in a storm on Lake Titicaca. The Virgin appeared to them and guided them to security. They constructed a shrine right here in honor of her assist. It’s now a longstanding custom to assemble with boats, vehicles, and different modes of transportation to hope to the Virgin and ask for the blessing of secure travels. Make sure you pay her a go to earlier than your return journey!

*Be aware: This can be a copy of the statue. To protect the unique, caretakers make sure that it stays within the sanctuary. 


Candelaria is held in the identical month as Carnaval de Oruro, which is likely one of the different prime three cultural festivals of South America. In the event that they overlap, you may attempt to expertise each! Thankfully, even when the dates are unfold out, you would possibly discover a practically fixed state of celebration within the nation. If you happen to do journey to Oruro, go to the monument to the Virgen Candelaria there which is 45 meters tall and weighs over 1500 tons! 


Store for native artisanías (handmade crafts) alongside lots of the festivities. You’ll discover an assortment of woven textiles, knit hats, handmade devices, clay bowls, and different handmade items from the Andes area. 

You is perhaps barely early for the recent peach harvest, however there are positive to be some jams and juices obtainable. Verify your native laws for merchandise which might be allowed to journey residence with you!

Journey ideas

As with Peru, you’ll expertise excessive altitude, so plan to reach a couple of days early should you can to profit from your expertise and keep away from illness. Drink loads of water, pack layers to be ready for a spread of temperature and precipitation, together with solar safety!



La Competition de Candelaria is widely known all through the nation. There are numerous regional variations and customs could differ throughout cities, however Mexican traditions could be considerably distinct from their neighbors to the South. Mixing Aztec custom with the customs introduced from Spain throughout colonial occasions, Candlemas in Mexico is an unforgettable expertise!

Like different regional celebrations, you’ll discover a steadiness of candlelit, solemn celebrations and upbeat parades. 

Sawdust carpets

Alfombras de aserrín (carpets of sawdust) are a good looking custom of ephemeral road artwork. Utilizing vibrantly coloured sawdust, in addition to different natural supplies similar to petals, coloured earth, or pine needles, artists use stencils and spray bottles of water to create attractive designs on the bottom. These may even be pathways that stretch by way of components of a city. 

Household traditions

If you happen to’re lucky sufficient to get an invitation to a personal celebration of La Competition de Candelaria with a Mexican household, you would possibly get a plateful of tamales. Stemming from Aztec custom, these are made with masa (a corn-based dough), crammed with meat, beans, greens, or cheese. The combination is wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves after which steamed. 

A few of these gatherings are organized on January 6, El Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day), the place friends at a personal get-together will share a Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Bread) which is embellished like a crown. Inside the crown is hidden a number of plastic infants or raw beans, meant to represent the Niño Jesus. The friends who uncover the hidden child are then in command of internet hosting the celebration on Candelaria and making the tamales. Since elements could be costly and it’s a time consuming labor of affection, the duty will also be shared between a number of relations. 

The individual (or individuals) who discover the newborn are additionally named the padrino (godparent) of the newborn, and are in command of dressing up a doll or corn husk in its best clothes to current on the church on Candelaria.

Muñecos del Niño Jesús

If you happen to’re searching for a significant memento in addition to an exercise, you’ll be able to go to a vendor promoting a muñeco (doll) of niño dios/Jesús (child Jesus). These vary from ornaments that may slot in your palm to life-sized dolls or bigger. There are numerous variations, in addition to richly embellished clothes decisions, and different options that make these a well-liked collectible. Some individuals would possibly purchase one yearly or to symbolize totally different reminiscences made in the course of the vacation season. 

In Mexico Metropolis, you’ll be able to go to El Corredor de Niño Dios, which is an extended aspect road crammed with distributors who promote these dolls and their garments. 



Chile has all kinds of celebrations from the North to the South! 

Within the Atacama area, Copiapó metropolis is host to the most important celebration. You’ll discover lots of the identical forms of spiritual and cultural actions, as in celebrations in Peru and Bolivia. Round 200,000 individuals come to the temple within the South of town to pay their respects, and round 70 dance teams take part.

This celebration lasts round 12 days, 9 of that are dedicated to prayer, and three for feasting and celebration. There are particular companies and prayers, a procession, and songs. There’s a massive deal with prayers for therapeutic and for particular professions.

The most important celebration within the South of the nation is in Carelmapu. Divers accompany the statue of the Virgin Mary in procession to ask for her safety and a secure return residence. Round 30,000 devoted believers collect right here annually. 


Costa Rica 

As in Mexico, La Competition de Candelaria is characterised by days of prayer in addition to the blessing of the candles and a procession within the streets. There’s additionally a Turno (road competition) with meals stands, parades, bingo video games, rides, and cultural displays similar to El Competition de la Canción (Competition of Track). This celebration is a vital one for households, and marks the top of the Christmas season. 



The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of Cuba. The related celebrations have stood the take a look at of time and historic change in Cuba. Some outdated traditions which might be adopted right here embrace: 

  • Trimming your hair (to advertise well being and development) 
  • Pruning vegetation (for a similar purpose) 
  • Blessing the candles at church

Whereas Christmas and related traditions had been banned in Cuba for a few years below Fidel Castro, the celebrations went from enthusiastic to silent however nonetheless remembered. Lately the island returned to the standard processions and a few of the celebration actions, however those that bear in mind what it was like earlier than that point interval recall a bygone time with a few of the most wonderful events, orchestras, bull fights, and festivities. 

Journey to Cuba remains to be difficult for these from the US, however for many who are capable of journey there, you’ll uncover a fusion of: 

  • Afro-Cuban traditions
  • Reverence of a Yoruba deity, Orisha Ochún, related to love, fertility, and rivers
  • Traditions related to Santería (a pantheistic Afro-Cuban faith primarily based in Yoruba beliefs with Catholicism blended in.)

El Salvador

As a traveler to El Salvador, you can see many similarities to the celebrations and devotion surrounding this vacation, because the Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of Jucuarán. Maybe there is not going to be fairly the thrill or sheer measurement of the celebrations of Peru and Bolivia, however you might discover pilgrimage actions and celebrations because the pious present reverence to a picture of the Saint that washed up on the seashore. These celebrations start across the twenty first of January.

And past!

In case you have a primary understanding of Spanish and also you’re keen to study with an open thoughts, you’ll be able to expertise Candelaria in practically any Spanish-speaking location. As a result of the vacation has Catholic origins, you’ll discover notable celebrations (usually extra solemn) throughout Europe as properly, from France to Germany. 

Spanish vocabulary to know for la Fiesta de Candelaria 

Spanish English
andino/andina from the andes mountains
autóctono, autóctona indigenous, native, autochthonous
el atole a cornflour drink common in mexico and central america
el concurso the competition
el muñeco the doll
el nacimiento the start / the nativity scene
el niño dios / el niño jesús the newborn jesus
el patrimonio heritage
el turno in costa rica, a road competition
el vestuario the wardrobe/costumes
la basilica the basilica
la danza the dance
la fiesta the celebration
la iglesia the church
la misa Catholic mass
la veneración devotion
la virgen the (blessed or holy) virgin
las novenas prayers
los ensayos rehearsals
los tamales corn primarily based dough crammed with meat or greens and steamed inside a leaf

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Las Fiestas de la Candelaria is a window into Spain and Latin America’s wider tradition. Catholicism is, in fact, a focus of Spanish and Latin American tradition, however celebration, group, and passing custom down by way of the generations are great narrative ties that each one can respect. 

We’ve actually solely scratched the floor of the number of ways in which Candelaria could be skilled. We advocate checking it out for your self! The rituals and traditions are distinct in every a part of the world however tied collectively by frequent historical past. With so many parts distinctive to every area’s celebration, there are sufficient February journeys to maintain you for years to return! 

The richness of world cultures can go away us curious, impressed, intrigued, and moved to an extent that goes past the boundaries of language. Construct deeper connections to the cultures that encourage you. Rosetta Stone presents a number of entry factors into an unfamiliar tradition, with immersive, bite-sized classes that enable you to study language and develop your cultural data. You’ll even have the chance to refine your pronunciation in each lesson with TruAccent

Written by Jamie Edwards

Jamie is a learner and trainer of Spanish and French. When she’s not studying new phrases, you’ll discover her on the soccer sidelines, ski slopes, and monitor and area bleachers having fun with the 4 seasons of Western New York.



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