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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 well known throughout Spain and Latin America, providing you with ample alternative to affix 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 an enormous 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 spite of everything) 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. 

Under, 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 areas) 
  • 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 delivered to the temple. On that day, his mom got here to finish the ritual of purification that was required of ladies 40 days after giving beginning 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. 

It’s also a time stuffed with music, dance, folklore, costumes, lights, feasting, and household. The particular traditions and celebrations fluctuate relying on the placement and area, however the most well-liked occasions that draw vacationers from all over the world embody: 

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

Whereas essentially the most well-known celebrations welcome vacationers, it’s a day that additionally unites household teams worldwide as they go 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 america—climate prediction performs a big half on today. A previous poem reads: 

“If Candlemas be honest and brilliant, Then Winter may have one other flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter won’t come not once more.” 

Whereas February 2 is the primary day of the celebration, Pageant de Candelaria preparations start lengthy earlier than today, and actions usually lengthen a number of days on both finish. In case you’re planning to journey for the primary occasion, think about 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. Situated 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 id. 

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 through the Candelaria competition! 

The Basilica of Candelaria, the primary shrine of the Virgin of Candelaria, is very fashionable 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 kids, significantly these born inside the previous 12 months, carry them to the church to be offered to her, in reminiscence of the child Jesus being offered on the temple for the primary time. 

Through the competition, you’re welcome to look at from outdoors 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 usually extra non secular in nature, however the islands once more rejoice 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
  • Ingesting 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 proper place to start out. 

A visit to Puno is effectively well worth the journey, because the celebrations that reach via the primary two weeks of February are thought of one in all Peru’s largest cultural festivals. It is likely one of the high 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 hundreds of tourists yearly, a flight can be expensive. E book upfront! You would possibly think about 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 situated on the shores of the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca. The altitude is one thing of an expertise if you happen to’re not used to the skinny air. It’s a nice concept to reach a couple of days early if you happen to 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 it will likely be robust sunshine or bone-chilling rain. Many of the occasions are outside 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 everywhere in 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 colour, 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: all the things from feathers and fur to beads and embroidery. 

Admire the dedication and preparation of the dancers, as not solely do the individuals wake within the wee hours of the morning to start out doing hair, make-up, and costume, however they’ve possible been making ready and rehearsing for the reason that earlier March. 

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

In all, you’ll be entertained and amazed by the laborious work of over 40,000 dancers, 15,000 musicians, and 25,000 extra individuals throughout clothes, choreography, and music. Dancing, singing, chants, and folkloric music proceed from morning till night time, via 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 go 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 situated on shores of Lake Titicaca, you’ll discover one other large celebration of La Pageant de Candelaria. 

You’ll discover lots of the identical festivities as in neighboring Peru. Amidst the solemnity of mass and non secular processions, there are many full of life parades, bands, and unimaginable 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 have 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 collect with boats, automobiles, and different modes of transportation to hope to the Virgin and ask for the blessing of secure travels. Remember to pay her a go to earlier than your return journey!

*Word: This can be a copy of the statue. To protect the unique, caretakers be 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 high three cultural festivals of South America. In the event that they overlap, you can attempt to expertise each! Happily, even when the dates are unfold out, you would possibly discover a almost fixed state of celebration within the nation. In case you 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 may be barely early for the contemporary peach harvest, however there are positive to be some jams and juices obtainable. Verify your native rules for merchandise which might be allowed to journey dwelling with you!

Journey ideas

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



La Pageant de Candelaria is well known all through the nation. There are a lot of regional variations and customs might 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 instances, 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 ravishing custom of ephemeral road artwork. Utilizing vibrantly coloured sawdust, in addition to different natural supplies corresponding to petals, coloured earth, or pine needles, artists use stencils and spray bottles of water to create beautiful designs on the bottom. These may even be pathways that reach via elements of a city. 

Household traditions

In case you’re lucky sufficient to get an invitation to a non-public celebration of La Pageant 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), stuffed 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 non-public get-together will share a Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Bread) which is adorned 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 social gathering 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 members of the family. 

The particular person (or individuals) who discover the child are additionally named the padrino (godparent) of the child, 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

In case you’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 a lot of variations, in addition to richly adorned clothes decisions, and different options that make these a preferred collectible. Some individuals would possibly purchase one yearly or to symbolize completely different recollections made through the vacation season. 

In Mexico Metropolis, you’ll be able to go to El Corredor de Niño Dios, which is an extended facet road stuffed 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 varieties of non secular 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 concentrate on 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 dwelling. Round 30,000 trustworthy believers collect right here every year. 


Costa Rica 

As in Mexico, La Pageant 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 shows corresponding to El Pageant de la Canción (Pageant of Track). This celebration is a crucial one for households, and marks the tip of the Christmas season. 



The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of Cuba. The related celebrations have stood the check of time and historic change in Cuba. Some previous traditions which might be adopted right here embody: 

  • Trimming your hair (to advertise well being and progress) 
  • Pruning crops (for a similar motive) 
  • Blessing the candles at church

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

Journey to Cuba remains to be sophisticated for these from america, 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 based mostly in Yoruba beliefs with Catholicism combined in.)

El Salvador

As a traveler to El Salvador, you’ll find many similarities to the celebrations and devotion surrounding this vacation, because the Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of Jucuarán. Maybe there won’t be fairly the thrill or sheer dimension of the celebrations of Peru and Bolivia, however chances are you’ll 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 prepared to be taught with an open thoughts, you’ll be able to expertise Candelaria in almost any Spanish-speaking location. As a result of the vacation has Catholic origins, you’ll discover notable celebrations (usually extra solemn) throughout Europe as effectively, 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 fashionable in mexico and central america
el concurso the competition
el muñeco the doll
el nacimiento the beginning / the nativity scene
el niño dios / el niño jesús the child 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 social gathering
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 based mostly dough stuffed with meat or greens and steamed inside a leaf

Study extra about Spanish-speaking nations with Rosetta Stone

Las Fiestas de la Candelaria is a window into Spain and Latin America’s wider tradition. Catholicism is, after all, a focus of Spanish and Latin American tradition, however celebration, group, and passing custom down via 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 suggest 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 components 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 provides a number of entry factors into an unfamiliar tradition, with immersive, bite-sized classes that assist you be taught language and increase 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 subject bleachers having fun with the 4 seasons of Western New York.



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