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Travel

Going off the beaten track in Peru

3 days ago
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Wildlife

A typical day in the Peruvian Amazon with crees

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31/12/2016 - 31/12/2016

New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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History & Culture

Where to go when in Latin America: Culture

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How has Cuba changed?

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29 days ago

Upcoming Event

26/01/2017 - 29/01/2017

Cartagena Hay Festival - Cartagena, Colombia

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Wildlife

Where to go when in Latin America: Wildlife

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Ask the experts

We are 2 women in our 60s who want to visit Latin America for 2 weeks leaving UK Easter week end, but we haven't even made up our mind which country. Definitely Spanish speaking, a mixture of colonial, ancient culture and snorkeling preferably, we're worried about altitude sickness in such a short trip.

Asked by M B

Antigua, Guatemala has a weeklong celebration over Easter (known as Semana Santa). The city is a colonial gem and can be combined with market towns in the north of the country and beaches just over the border in Belize.

For somewhere a bit different, the combination of Nicaragua and El Salvador is fascinating – Nicaragua has volcanoes , white sand beaches and is very reasonably priced and El Salvador has a beautiful colonial town called Suchitoto which will be less busy than Antigua but the celebrations will be just as lively.

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Upcoming Events

New Year in Rio de Janeiro

New Years Eve in Rio de Janeiro

31 - 31 Dec 2016

The tradition Révellion bonfire show in Copacabana beach with millions of eager onlookers dressed in the traditional white, is a staple image shown across the world in the New Year.

Cartagena Hay festival

Cartagena Hay Festival

26 - 29 Jan 2017

Literati from around Latin America and the rest of the world come together in the beautiful old town of Colombia's colonial city of Cartagena for this famous literary festival.

Talks and readings by authors and poets amongst other events take place in venues including the Plaza Santo Domingo, Casa Mapfre and Adolfo Meija Theatre.

Translations are made where necessary for both English and Spanish speaking audience members. Film screenings and music concerts take place in the evenings, and art, photography and science exhibitions also take place elsewhere around the city.

Easter Island

Tapati Festival

27 Jan - 12 Feb 2017

During the first two weeks of February each year, the whole of Easter Island  comes together for a unique celebration of their culture, involving music, dance and traditional sports. 

The festival has always been organised by the locals for the locals: it is not merely a commercial show put on for tourists.  Nevertheless, visitors are strongly encouraged to attend, and even participate, and if you can arrange your stay to coincide with the festival, it’s certainly an un-missable experience.  

Pisco Sour Day

Pisco Sour Day

4 - 4 Feb 2017

After much harassment by its masses, the Peruvian government agreed to name a day on which the people of Peru could formally celebrate the invention of its favourite drink, the pisco sour.

Made by mixing Pisco, lemon juice and egg whites with crushed ice and finished with an all-important touch of Angostura bitters, the Pisco Sour is one of Peru’s greatest national treasures. A celebration of tastings, competitions and Pisco parties abound in Lima on the first Saturday of February each year.

Carnival

Carnival

24 - 27 Feb 2017

Rio Carnival is South America’s biggest street party, lasting a total of four days. To join the main festivities you must head to the 'Sambodromo', the main arena where the various samba schools show off their flamboyant costumes and jaw-dropping samba steps.

With direct flights from London to Rio, you can leave Heathrow at 10pm be checking into your Copacabana hotel by 7am the next morning. February is the height of summer in Brazil so expect temperatures in the mid-thirties.

Fair of the sun

International Fair of the Sun

24 - 24 Feb 2017

Venezuela's Andean city of Merida spends all year preparing for its huge annual International Fair of the Sun carnival. Great floats with beautiful flower-covered women parade the streets as famous toreros bull fighters entertain packed arenas.

The traditional 'crowning of the Sun Queen' also takes place as revellers party long into the night. Agricultural exhibitions, musical and sporting competitions also occur throughout the celebrations. Please note: if you find bullfighting distasteful, you can avoid it.

Manaus Opera House

Manaus Opera Festival

1 Apr - 30 Jun 2017

The Amazonas Opera Festival takes place at Teatro Amazonas, Manaus’s opulent belle époque opera house, April - June annually. The building opened in 1896 at the zenith of Brazil's rubber boom, constructed from materials from all over the world and with an eclectic design reflecting Manaus’s importance. It holds 701 spectators. The theatre was restored in 1990.

You can tour the evocative building at any time but nothing beats attending an opera there. (Dates are approx, please enquire.). May is a popular month; the city hosts both the Opera and the Ponta Negra Music Festival, and it’s as good time to visit local jungle lodges. 

Semana santa

Semana Santa

9 - 16 Apr 2017

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is celebrated all over Latin America but is at its most spectacular in Antigua, Guatemala. The celebrations begin on Palm Sunday and run throughout the Easter weekend and are a visual feast not to be missed.

The streets are carpeted in brightly coloured designs made from sawdust, fruit and flowers depicting the last days of Christ and there are thronging processions of religious floats accompanied by locals dressed in bright purple robes.

Dia de los trabajadores

Labour Day

30 - 30 Apr 2017

If you are traveling in Latin America on the first day of May, you can expect to find banks, government offices, stores, post offices and businesses closed for the day as people celebrate the Día Internacional Del Trabajo with parades, demonstrations and other symbols of solidarity with the worker.

It is  celebrated in Central America, for example Costa Rica and Panama, and in some parts of the Caribbean, including Cuba. It is also a national holiday in Mexico. In South America, it is observed in countries such as: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de mayo

5 - 5 May 2017

Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday limited primarily to the state of Puebla held every year on the 5th May. It commemorates the unlikely victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on (that day) 1862.

The celebrations are principally focused in the town of Puebla, but it is also celebrated throughout the United States. The actual date holds little significance these days, but the holiday has now become a celebration, particularly in the US, of Mexican heritage and pride, much as St. Patrick's Day is used to celebrate those of Irish ancestry. The celebrations in Puebla are still well worth seeing, despite the event becoming more of an American festival with celebrations taking place in more than 150 locations throughout the country.

Fiesta El Gran Poder

El Gran Poder

10 - 11 Jun 2017

Fiesta El Gran Poder is a traditional religious event held in the city of La Paz which pays homage to Jesus Christ. Held annually this is no longer just a small spiritual feast, gathering thousands of spectators, it has grown into an enormous festival with over 100 dance groups participating in the parade wearing colourful and intricate costumes.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

15 - 15 Jun 2017

The festival of Corpus Christi celebrates the Eucharist as the body of Christ. The name 'Corpus Christi' is Latin for 'the body of Christ'. In some Latin American cities, such as Cusco, in addition to a Mass, there are effervescent processions.

Thronging with crowds lining the cobbled streets, Cusco comes alive with effigies of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Each effigy is beautifully clothed in stunningly intricate costumes and is carried through the streets by the religious processions, making this an extraordinary spectacle.

Bumba meu boi

Bumba Meu Boi

23 - 25 Jun 2017

The festival is a dance-off competition that lasts for three nights. Boi Bumba roughly translates to "Beat the Bull." Each team has the chance tell the story of Boi (bull), and how he was killed and resurrected. Teams use allegories, costumes, giant puppets, musical instruments (mostly drums) and dance.

The best place to see the festival is the Amazonian island of Parintins, 370km east of Manaus. Another great place to celebrate Bumba Meu Boi is in São Luís, the capital of the Brazilian state of Maranhão from late June to August.

Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun

24 - 24 Jun 2017

Peru celebrates some 3,000 festivals a year, of which the most significant is Inti Raymi, a reenactment of the Inca Festival of the Sun.

The extravagant festival is held inside the ruins of Cusco's Sacsayhuamán fortress and attended by hundreds of visitors, seated among the ruins.

Ceviche

National Ceviche Day

28 - 28 Jun 2017

If you are partial to a bit of fresh ceviche - marinated raw fish - head to Peru for la Día Nacional del Cebiche on June 28th next year.

Ceviche is virtually a national obsession and National Ceviche Day is an annual event celebrating Peru's simplest, but most delicious dish. Lima and Callao are two of the best places to spend the day - but remember, Ceviche is a lunchtime dish so build your appetite from the previous night!

Peru flag

Peru Independence Day

27 - 27 Jul 2017

On 28 July annually, Peruvians throw patriotic parties and attend both military and civilian celebrations to commemorate  the Declaration of Peru's Independence (1821) by the liberator José de San Martín: Fiestas Patrias. Even in the most remote communities throughout the country houses and businesses fly the Peruvian flag from the start of the month.

On the night of July 27th, Peruvians fill plazas and public parks and thrill to performances of folk and Creole music.  At dawn on July 28 there’s a salvo of 21 cannons, to herald the ceremony of the raising of the flag. On the following day, before a military parade is held in downtown Lima, the Te Deum ceremony, attended by the president, is celebrated in the Lima Cathedral.

In various parts of the country, Peruvians also hold agricultural and livestock fairs alongside events which are the soul of Creole culture: cockfighting, bullfighting and exhibitions by Peruvian pace horses.

Tango

Buenos Aires international Tango Festival and World Championship

1 - 31 Aug 2017

The tango, possibly the world’s steamiest and most sexually evocative dance, evolved from back-street bordellos to high-society ballrooms and is inextricably linked with the culture of Buenos Aires. The dance’s passion is celebrated every August during the Tango Buenos Aires Festival, with up to half a million spectators.

You can watch some of the most talented tanguistas from Argentina and all over the world performing in a variety of venues and then you can have a go yourself, with free classes for beginners throughout the festival.

Medellin flower festival

Medellin Flower Festival

1 - 10 Aug 2017

The Medellín Flower Fair has been running since 1957 and is one of the city’s most important cultural events. Browse the arrays of scented orchids and be amazed by the complexity that is flower artistry.

If flowers aren’t your thing there’s also a classic car show, a beauty pageant and plenty of music and dancing. And whatever you do don't miss the parades of campesinos (country folk) who carry large wooden constructions elaborately and beautifully decorated with flowers of every colour and fragrance.

Brazil flag

Brazil Independence day

7 - 7 Sep 2017

Thousands of people get together throughout Brazil to celebrate Brazilian Independence Day every year. The date celebrates Brazil's Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves on September 7, 1822.

People gather in the streets celebrating with banners, balloons and streamers. Students take part in the parade held on the morning waving their Brazilian flags. Military parades take place in many towns and cities but there’s a carnival atmosphere throughout the day where people of all ages take In the evening people gather to see firework displays. 

Costa Rica Independence Day

costa-rica-independence-day

14 - 14 Sep 2017

Independence Day in Costa Rica is celebrated on the 15th September. It commemorates the independence of the entire Central America from Spain in 1821. The day is declared a national holiday and is celebrated by raising the National Flag, singing the National Anthem and parades where school bands march with children dressed in traditional outfits dancing along. Traditional foods such as tamales and arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) are also sold in stands.

Belize flag

Belize Independence Day

20 - 20 Sep 2017

The little Caribbean country Belize, formerly the British colony  British Honduras, only achieved independence from Britain in 1981. For 3 weeks prior to the celebration of Independence Day in September there is a build-up of festivities including a series of musical events and joyous, costumed processions.

Street buildings are adorned with streamers in the red, white and blue of the Belizean flag and a spirit of effervescent patriotism pervades everywhere; possibly partly targeted at Guatemala which has long held territorial claims over the territory. Join in the fun: a calendar of events is published, please enquire with us. 

Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead

1 - 2 Nov 2017

All of Mexico stops during the first two days of November for a nationwide communion with the dead, known locally as ‘Día de los Muertos'.

This is however a more joyful occasion than you might expect, as it’s both a remembrance of loved ones and a celebration of the eternal cycle of life and death. Perhaps the best place to see the celebrations is the island of Janitzio on Lake Pátzcuaro, where the bell at the entrance of the local cemetery rings all night long, calling the souls to return and join in the ceremony.

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