Bolivia prepares for 'Dance of Devils' festivals

6th Feb 2014

One of South America's biggest festivals and events comes to Bolivia next month - with visitors guaranteed a devilishly good time.

Holidaymakers on city breaks to Oruro at the start of March can enjoy a celebration recognised by Unesco as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Oruro Carnival is Bolivia's largest annual party, drawing in an estimated 400,000 every year.

Its highlight is La Diablada or "Dance of the Devils".

This amazing parade of 20,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians proceeds along 4km (2.48 miles).

It shows off demonic dancers in colourful costumes, and takes place on the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday.

With so many participants, headed by a vibrantly attired San Miguel character, the parade can go on for 20 hours.

Behind "San Miguel" trails a dancing, marching cavalcade of the famous devils and myriad bears and condors.

The leading devil, Lucifer, wears the most lavish outfit, complete with a velvet cape and an ornate mask.

He is flanked by fellow devils, including Supay, an Andean god of evil who lives in the hills and mineshafts.

The parade is followed by other dance groups, vehicles decorated with jewels, coins and silverware, and miners.

The latter offer the year's best riches to El Tío, the demonic character who owns all underground minerals and precious metals.

Then come Inca characters and conquistadores.

The archangel and the devils arrive at the city's soccer stadium to perform dances that outline the story of the battle between good and evil.

When it becomes clear good has won, the dancers adjourn to the Santuario de la Virgen del Socavón at dawn on the Sunday.

A mass is staged in honour of the Virgin, who pronounces that good has triumphed.

Events such as the cha'lla libations continue throughout the week. This is where alcohol is sprinkled over worldly goods and four adjacent rock formations to invoke a blessing.

The carnival spectacularly finishes on the Monday after Ash Wednesday.

The Dia del Agua (Day of Water) sees a massive water-bomb fight from which overseas tourists aren't spared a drenching.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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