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Virgen de la Candelaria - BoliviaThe festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria, in many images, is celebrated on February 2 in various Hispanic Catholic countries, including Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela and Uruguay.

The celebrations in Peru and Bolivia are centered around Lake Titicaca, in Puno and the small village of Copacabana. In Bolivia, the Virgen is also known as the Dark Virgin of the Lake, and the Patrones Of Bolivia. She is revered for a series of miracles, recounted in Nuestra Señora de Copacabana and has another festival on August 5.

Normally, Copacabana is a quiet, rural village with fishing and agriculture the mainstays. However, the week before and the day of the fiesta, the village changes.

Candelaria - Rey MorenoThere are parades, colorful costumes, music and a lot of drinking and celebrating. New vehicles are brought in from all over Bolivia to be blessed with beer. People gather for days ahead to pray and to celebrate in a mixture of Catholic and native religions. Bolivian celebrants believe the Virgen prefers to stay inside the Basilica erected in her honor. When taken outside, there is a risk of storm or other calamity.

In Peru, Puno is known as the Folkloric Capital of Peru and lives up to this reputation in grand manor during this fiesta which lasts for days. The rites are centered around the observance of February second, and then a week later with the famed dances. Peruvian celebrants are not hesitant to take their statue of the Virgen around the streets of Puno in a staged procession.

Mamacha CandelariaThe mixing of Christian and pagan is very evident here. Mamacha Candelaria, Mamita Canticha, and MamáCandi, are all names for the Virgen of Candelaria, the patron saint of Puno. She is also associated with Lake Titicaca as the birth of the Inca empire, with the cult of the earth, Pachamama. Men, women and children dance in her honor, to show their devotion and their thanks for her blessings. The celebration continues as a prelude to Carnival, as described in Máximo Esplendor Festivo.

The festival has two main phases. The first is described in El Día Principal Y Sus Ritos in which a procession carries the statue of the Virgen around the city, and dancers in lavish costumes from all walks of life join the parade. The dancers, by group, pause in front of the cathedral to be blessed with holy water, after which they are cooled with water thrown from nearby houses.
The second phase occurs on the Sunday after February second, called the Octava. On this day, El Segundo Gran Día : La Octava, costumed groups from the neighborhoods of Puno dance day and night in religious fervor and competitive spirit.


Bolivia Flag
Festival Date
New Year 1
Alasitas (La Paz) 24
Virgen de la Candelaria (Copacabana) 2
Carnaval and La Diablada (Oruro La Paz and
other locations)
February or March
Carnaval (Santa Cruz) February or March
Local Holiday (Oruro) 22
Good Friday and Easter March or April
Phuyllay (Tarabuco) Second Sunday in March
Local Holiday (Tarija)
Labor Day 1
Local Holiday (Chuquisaca) 25
El Gran Poder (La Paz) Late May or early June
Local Holiday (La Paz) 16
Santo Patron de Moxos (San Ignacio de Moxoz)
Nuestra Señora de Copacabana (Copacabana) 5
Dias de la Independencia (National) 5 - 7
San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo) 10 - 13
Virgen de Urcupiña (Quillacollo) 13 - 18
Chu'tillos (Potosí) Late August
San Roque (Tarija) First week of September
Local Holiday (Cochabamba) 14
Local Holiday (Santa Cruz and Pando) 24
Columbus Day 12
All Saints Day 1
Local Holiday (Beni) 18
Christmas Day 25
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