Colourful dances, tradition and happiness. The small desert town of La Tirana with a mere 800 inhabitants attracts more than 250,000 visitors every year during the second week of July, week in which the town celebrates the patron saint of Chile, the Virgen del Carmen.
During this must-see religious festival, the streets of La Tirana are filled with colour and joy, and dance groups present dances such as the Antawara, Chunchos and Diabladas, for which they prepare year round. July 15th is the height of the festival ; on this day, groups of dancers make bonfires, and at midnight music played by hundreds of bands, the ringing of bells and fireworks indicate that the day of “La Chinita” (as the patron saint is usually called) has arrived.
The “Fiesta Grande” is the most important day of this celebration; the Virgen del Carmen leaves the temple in the afternoon, marking the beginning of the procession, and is then carried throughout the town, accompanied by dancing groups in luminous dress. The dancing and singing is reminiscent of a street carnival, and the rhythmic music invites you to join in the celebration.
This short video gives you a glimpse of this colourful festival in Chile’s desert region.
If you want to join in this year, have in mind that the festival begins on July 10th, 2020. The best way to get to La Tirana is via Iquique. From there you will reach your destination after 70 km, about a 1.5-hour drive.
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