Festival de la Virgen de Guadalupe – A Photo Essay

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In September 2009, we began our South American journey with our first stop being Sucre, Bolivia. Our timing couldn’t have been better if it was planned, as we unexpectedly arrived just two weeks before the annual festival of La Virgen Guadalupe – one of the biggest celebrations in the entire country.

Not only do Bolivians know how to party, but they also know how to practice for a party. The locals and several surrounding communities prepared for weeks with nightly practice parades through the main streets, setting off massive fireworks and shaking the surrounding buildings until the wee hours of the morning (on one of our very first nights we thought we might have just moved into a war zone, not knowing at all what was going on).

And on the actual day of the festival, streets throughout the city were shut down and the massive parade ran for six straight hours in the hot sun – participants battled the heat in their elaborate costumes while they marched, sang and danced with pride, all in honor of the Virgen. We were two of many onlookers who bought chalked off sections on a makeshift bench to sit on and watch. With large crowds and only tiny spaces allotted for each bum, we were only able to rest one cheek, and also often had children leaning against our shoulders during the parade.

Vale la pena!! (It was worth it!)  Enjoy the photos!

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  1. Awesome! We came across a few random parades in both Puno, Peru and Oruro, Bolivia, and you’re right, they absolutely know how to throw big parades and parties. I love all the pictures! Well done!

    1. Absolutely! What was amazing is how hard all the paraders worked – 6 hours in the hot sun, in those crazy costumes! No wonder the party afterwards went on all night – they had some big celebrating to do!

    1. That is disappointing! 🙁 We really lucked out with this one, and with the Easter one we saw in southern Colombia – both times we just happened to be in the right spot at the right time!

  2. Amazing photos — love the colors, energy and movement. I’m a sucker for Latin American parades and festivals. Dying to go to Bolivia!

    1. It is worth the trip. Those poor people put a lot into it, 6 hours dragging around those heavy costumes in the heat! We saw so many ladies limping around afterwards with no shoes on because their feet were destroyed!

    1. Thanks Caz…it really was impossible to go wrong with the camera that day. Everywhere we pointed it was just a crazy array of vibrant colors. So much fun!

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