Dance with the devils in Chile

18th Apr 2013

Travellers wanting to get in touch with their devilish side should head to Chile this summer to experience one of the globe's most colourful spectacles.

For the large majority of the year, La Tirana is a low-key town in the Tarapaca region of northern Chile with a population of only 560.

But between June 12 and 17 every year, things roar into life as up to 250,000 visitors descend on the town for the Fiesta de la Tirana.

Dancers don ornate, brightly coloured masks and headdresses to perform the diablada - the "dance of the devils".

Dressed in their lurid costumes, complete with huge, twisting horns, the dance troupe perform a complex set of choreographed movements intended to banish evil spirits, accompanied by rhythmic drumming, flutes and whistles.

Fiesta de la Tirana features elements of local indigenous religions and Catholicism, paying homage to the Virgen del Carmen, the title given to the Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the hermetic Carmelite Order.

Descendants of the Atacameno, Kunza, Aymara and other indigenous peoples make pilgrimages to her sanctuary to exchange promises for blessings.

Masses are said in the church while in the surrounding area there are stalls with handicrafts and food, and dancing throughout the day.

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