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Carnaval de Oruro

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Category: festival
Where: Oruro, Bolivia
When: 1 Feb - 13 Mar 2017
Website: http://www.orurocarnaval.com/

El Carnaval de Oruro (or Carnival of Oruro) is the biggest annual cultural event in Bolivia. Considered by many the finest in South America after the Brazilian carnival in Rio de Janeiro, it is a carnival that should not be missed if traveling around Latin America.

The carnival has been recognized by UNESCO since 2001 as a World Heritage event and declared the carnival as one of Mankind's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The Carnaval de Oruro is located in the old mining city of Oruro, which is located in what is known as the Altiplano region of the high Andes Mountains in Bolivia, South America. The Oruro carnival typically begins a week before Lent each year.

During the Carnival, thousands of visitors from other Bolivian towns and from neighboring countries, flock to the city to take part in the festivities. The carnival is basically a week long fiesta, where thousands of dancers and musicians in expensive costumes parade through the streets and where heavy drinking and water-balloon fights are the norm.

The highlight of the Carnival is conducted over three days and nights, with fifty groups parading through the city over a route of four kilometers. The groups are not just from Oruro but from all over Bolivia. The groups represent various indigenous dance forms, and are accompanied by several bands. (see video below)

The origins of the carnival is said to date back to the late 1700's, where legend has it that a thief called Chiru-Chiru was mortally wounded and the Virgen de la Candelaria (Virgin of the Candle Mass) took care of him in a mineshaft until he eventually died. Miners soon found his body there and were astonished to see on the wall above the him an almost life-sized image of the Virgen de la Candelaria.

The miners decided immediately to recognize the Virgen de la Candelaria as the Virgen del Socavon (Virgin of the Mineshaft)," protector of the working population and along with the mining community they decided that every year they would celebrate it with a great fiesta.

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