From the exquisite beauty of the Rio Carnival to harvest festivals that promise to get you drunk, there are some true hidden gems in South America’s world of festivals. With gorgeous scenery, and even more gorgeous culture, there’s a lot to explore here. Take a look at The Sherp’s pick of some of the greatest South American festivals out there.
1. Tapati Rapa Nui
Where: Easter Island
In spite of being known as the most remote inhabited island in the world, weird doesn’t begin to cover the strange veil of mystique and mythology that surrounds Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui. Located in the Pacific Ocean and marks the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Every February, which is the beginning of summer for the Rapa Nui people, the Island celebrates the oncoming season with great vigour and splendour. If you appreciate the exotic in a rustic environment, coupled with a touch of mystique, this may become one of your new favorite cultural festivals. All 5,700 inhabitants of Easter Island are wonderfully in shape, ready for the challenging extravaganza that is the Tapati Rapa Nui festival. During the two weeks in February that the fiesta takes place, the Island is alive with traditional music, dance, sport, and fireworks.
(Source: Nicolas de Camaret Creative Commons)
2. Rio Carnival
Where: Rio de Janeiro
Every year before lent, Brazil erupts in extravagant colour and sound as the Rio Carnival is celebrated. While the Brazilian Carnival is historically four days long, it spirals to more days because of the endless street parties. Mind you, these aren’t just club events – but every important or unimportant spot in Brazil witnesses revelry of just another level. Blocos or Bandas (what street parties are colloquially called) are celebrated with free-for-all dance offs, as almost everybody joins in, in choicest costumes. While some stick to sensual get ups, most cross-dress in debauched fashion. In addition to the famous Samba Parade, the Carnival is marked by several famous balls, including the much sophisticated Marvelous City Balls, and even Gay Costume Balls that celebrate drag queens and cross-dressing.
3. National Grape Harvest Festival
When: February 28 – March 8
One wouldn’t peg harvesting grapes as a popular social event, but that’s exactly what Mendoza’s grape harvest festival is. Every year, this festival brings together everyone from the field workers to the wine vineyard owners and the rest of the wine-loving world. Some exquisite wine, delicious food, and a hearty contest for the title of the ‘Harvest Queen’ make for a truly unique experience. This festival attracts just over 200,000 onlookers, including locals and tourists. If you’re not one for organized celebrations, then you can check out some of the more unofficial facets of the festival, that are just as fun, like the Gay National Harvest Queen, the Crush of Grapes Night, the Electro-Dance Harvest Night, among others.
(Source: Argentina Travel)
Already established as one of the biggest and most immersive music festivals in the US, the South American counterparts of this Chicago music festival take place in Brasil, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia respectively. With a bevy of eclectic musicians that amalgamate several genres, to the spectacular locations the exotic cities offer, the South American editions of Lollapalooza are definitely festivals you want to your bucket list. You can find more details about the Brasil edition here, Argentina here, Chile here, and Colombia here.
(Source: Lollapalooza Chile/Facebook)
What sets TomorrowWorld apart from the rest is its storybook setting and immersive nature. Described as Trippy Technicolor Fantasies, stages undergo seamless transformations with a well-executed attention to detail. In 2011, the “Alice in Wonderland” theme translated into a real-life journey down the rabbit hole with live characters, real waterfalls, next-level pyrotechnics, and life-size mushrooms that catapulted stage design to new heights. The line-up is always a banger, as you can expect every respectable dance music act to be playing at TomorrowWorld.
6. Rock in Rio
When: September TBA
Where: Rio de Janeiro
Since 1985, Rock in Rio has been known as one of the most distinguished international rock festivals in the world, incorporating everything a true rock enthusiast could hope for. It takes place in the beautiful city of Rio, which brings to life the stunning beaches and enthused fans alike. This year’s edition is to be headlined by artists such as The Script, Queen, OneRepublic, and more you can view here.
(Source: Bruno Farias Creative Commons/Fest300)
When: November TBA
Creamfields festival is pretty much the epicenter of dance in Argentina. The long standing festival always comes armed with a massive line-up that includes the biggest names in the industry today on around 8 arenas. Last year’s edition saw acts such as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, amongst many more. Now for it’s 15th anniversary this year, we expect a bigger explosion of music and insanity. If you’re someone who wants to experience a pure EDM festival, Creamfields is the place for you.