Festival de la Virgen de Guadalupe – A Photo Essay

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!

30 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • February 4 2011

    Gorgeous photos, I love the colours.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Releasing my inner cyborg with the Hare Krishnas

    • Peter
      February 4 2011

      Thanks Ayngelina! We couldn’t believe how colorful it was, amazing costume and celebration!

  • What a lucky coincidence. Beautiful shots!

    • Peter
      February 4 2011

      Thanks!! We were pretty lucky to be able to experience this. We hope we have the chance to do it again.

  • February 5 2011

    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!
    Adam recently posted..Review of Career Break Secrets Travel Guide Series

    • Dalene
      February 5 2011

      Thanks so much Adam! They are definitely something to be experienced. We were so lucky to have been there!

  • February 9 2011

    Love the photos guys!
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..Navigate Focus Live Inspire

    • Peter
      February 9 2011

      Cheers Justin, All the colors were pretty incredible.

  • February 11 2011

    WOW – love the pictures. We have to go too one day!!
    For 91 Days Travel Blog recently posted..Chinese New Year in Belgrano

    • Dalene
      February 11 2011

      Thanks! We’d highly recommend a trip there!

  • This is amazing! I love it! one of my favorite things about South American culture its vibrance and color. There is such LIFE in it, ya know?
    Lauren Rains @ TheMadtoLive recently posted..The Final Ultimatum- Leave Tonight or Live and Die This Way

    • Dalene
      April 6 2011

      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!

  • May 12 2011

    Fabulous photos! Number 4 is beautiful, it looks like a painting.
    Dave and Deb recently posted..Mongol Rally by the Numbers

    • May 13 2011

      Thanks! That is one of my favorites too, although it was hard to choose from the hundreds that we took!

  • Lovely, colourful photos.
    Sophie | Sophie’s World recently posted..The longest place name in the world

  • May 12 2011

    Beautiful colours – we haven’t seen any festivals like this in South America…a little disappointing =(
    Andrea recently posted..Marcha Mundial de la Marihuana Montevideo- A Day on the Green

    • May 13 2011

      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!

  • May 12 2011

    What a wonderful time to be in Bolivia! You captured the fun and beauty of the festivities perfectly!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Boston from the Rooftops

    • May 13 2011

      Thanks Cathy! It was quite an amazing spectacle, and it was hard to go wrong with the camera!

  • Abby
    May 12 2011

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

    • May 13 2011

      Bolivia is so amazing. It really is a world all it’s own in South America, so different from the other countries.

  • May 13 2011

    These photos are awesome!!
    That looks like a festival I definitely have to see at some point! 🙂
    Cailin recently posted..My South Shore Adventure in Iceland Part 2

    • May 13 2011

      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!

  • May 13 2011

    Quality photos guys! Love the vibrancy

    • May 13 2011

      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!

  • Beautiful photos!
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Adelaide Hostel – San Francisco- CA 2

  • May 22 2011

    Beautiful shots, you must have enjoyed taking all these pictures!

    • May 22 2011

      Thanks Angela! The whole day was pretty enjoyable, but yes, capturing it on film was half the fun!

  • Theodora
    May 31 2011

    Looks stunning. Great colours.

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