12 Coolest Hispanic Holidays You Never Heard Of
Are you trying to decide where and when to go on your first (or next) trip to Latin America?
It’s a vast, diverse region with so many countries that it’s hard to choose just one.
What if you had information at your fingertips about the coolest Hispanic holidays, when and where they take place, and what they’re all about?
Well, exactly that is what you’re getting here today!
Keep reading to discover the 12 coolest Hispanic holidays you’ve never heard of—including links, dates, and colorful images for you to make a decision to visit Latin America as soon as possible!
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Table of Contents:
- Why Learn About Hispanic Holidays?
- Top 12 Little-Known Hispanic Holidays
- Visit Latin America To Experience These Hispanic Holidays
Why Learn About Hispanic Holidays?
Learning a language is much more than just learning its grammar rules, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Spanish, just like any language, is a cultural expression and, as such, a window into a new culture.
Learning about upcoming Hispanic holidays not only allows you to plan potential trips to Latin America, but also helps you to better understand the kaleidoscopic Latin American culture.
At the end of the day, speaking a second language implies knowing as much as possible about the culture that produces it.
Top 12 Little-Known Hispanic Holidays
Check out this collection of some of the coolest, most fascinating (and not so well known) Hispanic holidays and Latin American traditions in 2022 and beyond.
1. Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival, Argentina
Also known as La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia, this festival dates back to the 17th century!
National Geographic ranked it the second best harvest festival in the world. In 2022, Mendoza Harvest Festival took place from March 6-9, and it was a huge success.
La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia starts with the “blessing of the fruit,” continues with a parade of harvest queens from the suburbs of Mendoza, and includes gaucho festivals, and much more.
Join the Argentinian people in this celebration of their proud wine culture and discover the fascinating Mendoza province.
What are gauchos, again? Find out!
Gauchos and Estancias: Cowboy Culture in Argentina
2. Dancing of the Devil, Venezuela
This fascinating tradition has been included in the list of Immaterial Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and takes place in the coastal towns of Venezuela on the 9th Thursday after Easter, when the “devil is on the loose.”
The festivities involve hundreds of people dancing with masks, horns, and red suits in front of local churches.
In a representation of the struggle between god and the devil, a priest walks toward them and the diablos danzantes (dancing devils) dance backward. At the end of the celebration, the devils surrender to God.
3. Day of the Little Candles, Colombia
One of the most unique Latin American Christmas’ celebrations, Día de las Velitas takes place every year on December 7th. It’s a tradition that celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
Millions of Colombians across the country participate in this spectacular tradition by lighting little candles and paper lanterns and placing them outside their homes, creating an extraordinary “spectacle of light, fire, and religious fervor.”
Follow the Light!
Get all the details about The Day of Little Candles in Colombia.
4. Guelaguetza, Mexico
The Guelaguetza Festival takes place every July in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. It’s one of the most colorful, enigmatic, and fascinating traditions of Mexico.
La Guelaguetza is one of the largest indigenous events in Mexico and a giant celebration of the indigenous heritage of the country.
The Guelaguetza brings together the eight regions of Oaxaca and representatives of each one of them perform a traditional dance from their own region. Besides the spectacular dances, there are delightful gastronomic events!
Then you’ll love to learn more about Oaxaca Mexico’s Dazzling Guelaguetza Festival.
5. Fiesta de las Ñatitas, Bolivia
This holiday is on November 8th, when Bolivians “gather at the cemeteries to unearth human skulls.” People dance, sing, and pray all around the city with the skulls. Some even take the skulls with them and keep them at home all year round.
It’s a holiday that mixes indigenous traditions from the Aymara people and Catholic beliefs in one of the most fascinating examples of the syncretism in all of Latin America.
6. Inti Raymi, Peru
Celebrated on June 24th every year, Inti Raymi is “an ancient Inca celebration in honor of the Sun God: Inti.” The date is significant, as it coincides with the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, when the Sun is farthest from the Earth.
At the height of the Incan Empire, Inti Raymi would draw 25,000 people to Cusco and 200 llamas would be sacrificed during the festival.
These days, Inti Raymi is a more symbolic celebration and has been declared a cultural heritage of Peru.
Oh, the controversy!
Why was the Inti Raymi celebration banned?
7. Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico
Known in Spanish as la Virgen de Guadalupe or Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, she’s the Mexican version of Virgin Mary. Canonized in 1895, she’s the icon of Mexican Catholicism.
Mexicans and people from all over the world gather at the Basílica de Guadalupe every December 12th to celebrate her birthday. An estimated 11 million people congregated there in 2019 to show their devotion to the Virgin.
Who is la Virgen de Guadalupe and why is she so special?
8. Flower Festival, Colombia
Colombia’s Fiesta de las Flores (flower festival) is a colorful celebration in the city of Medellín during the month of August. This event has become a popular international event that attracts over 26,000 visitors every year.
The festival features orchid expositions, firework displays, horse fairs, classic car parades, and the famous desfile de silleteros, which is a parade of “more than 500 participants carrying floats through town” and the culmination of the festival.
Enjoy kaleidoscopes of color?
Get all the details on The Flower Festival in Colombia.
9. Fireball Festival, El Salvador
One of the most original Hispanic holidays you’ll find anywhere is El Salvador’s Fireball Festival.
It takes place every year on August 31st to commemorate the eruption of a volcano in 1922. The people of El Salvador thought that the best way to do that was throwing “fireballs at one another”—and that’s how this festival was born.
Ready to pack?
We’ve got 7 more compelling reasons to visit El Salvador.
10. Fiesta de la Tirana, Chile
Celebrated every month of July in the small town of La Tirana in Chile, this spectacular Hispanic holiday involves 10 days of dances “with colorful costumes, as well as music and fireworks.”
Legend has it that an Incan princess refused to be colonized by the Spanish conquerors and fought them tirelessly. One day, she fell in love with one of her Spanish captives and was killed by her own community.
These days, over 250,000 parishioners visit this small town to commemorate her memory and celebrate the cultural origins of the Chilean people.
Want to dance with somebody?
Learn all the details about la Fiesta de la Tirana in Chile.
11. Black and White Carnival, Colombia
Carnival is a Catholic holiday celebrated all over the world. However, Latin America has some unique celebrations of this holiday—of which The Black and White Carnival of Pasto, Colombia is the most fascinating.
In fact, it’s on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
What makes it unique are the events on January 5th and 6th every year. The 5th is Black Day and the 6th is the White Day. Each day people take to the streets with their faces painted or wearing clothes according to the color of the day.
12. Tapati Rapa Nui, Chile
The Tapati Rapa Nui festival translates into the local Polynesian language as “Rapa Nui Week.” Rapa Nui is none other than the famous Isla de Pascua (Easter Island) in the South Pacific.
This festival takes place during the month of February and has become one of the main events in Polynesia. During Tapati Rapa Nui, you get to see ancient competitions inspired by the cult of Tangata Manu, such as the Rapa Nui Triathlon, the Haka Pei (sliding down a hill on top of banana trunks), or horse races.
To be sure, Tapati Rapa Nui isn’t much of a Hispanic holiday, but as it takes place in a Latin American country and it’s such a cool event, I thought it would be interesting to include on the list.
Made up your mind?
Learn what to expect when you travel to Easter Island from Chile.
Visit Latin America To Experience These Hispanic Holidays
From popular Catholic Hispanic holidays to colorful indigenous festivals, this list covers a little bit of everything. Get to know more about the Latin American culture and their fascinating holidays by visiting these countries, experiencing these festivals firsthand, and practicing your Spanish at the same time.
One of the main benefits of speaking Spanish is that it makes it easier to visit Spanish-speaking countries, communicate with the locals in their own language, and learn more about their culture.
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