Anyone who has travelled will understand the frustrations of arriving in town days after an annual festival to find everyone hiding at home nursing their hangovers, or days before, unprepared and with nowhere to stay. However, with a little forward planning and some inside expertise, planning your trip around a local festival can prove to be an unforgettable experience, the ultimate way to combine a rich cultural experience with having a very good time, and often for free. As well as help with where and when to go, Dehouche will have your right bang smack in the centre of the action: from meeting the founders to the movers and shakers, it’s all about being in just the right place at just the right time. We have selected our monthly highlights from around our favourite continent so you know exactly where to be in 2012.
Dakar Rally: 1st-15th January. Start the year with a bang and join the Dakar Rally, the world’s ultimate extreme motocross rally as it races up Argentina, across the Chilean Andes and down into Peru. Join them at the finish line in Iquique (Peru) as they crest the Andes and plunge down the sand-dunes at more than 150 kmh.
Cartagena Hay Festival: 26th-29th January. Join the flock of international literary buffs who head to Cartagena, the home town of Nobel Prize author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to mix with the artistic glitterati and leading thinkers during a weekend of philosophy, gastronomy, sociology and dance events. And did we mention it was set in Cartagena, the jewel of the Caribbean and one of the world’s most charming cities.
Virgen de la Candelaria, Puno: February. Set on Lake Titicaca on the Bolivia/ Peruvian border, Puno is one of the continent’s most compelling cultural melting pots cultivating unique ways of existence, such as the Uros tribe who inhabit small islands on the lake. For 18 days in February, the town is taken over by the festival of the Virgen de La Candelaria. For more details: http://tinyurl.com/87z3vyk
Festival Sao Bras, Trancoso: 3rd February. Our love for Trancoso’s magical quadrado, hippie origins and fabulous beaches is always heighted during the annual festival of Sao Bras. A far cry from the jet-set scene that descends over high season, this is an authentic festival that encapsulates the eternal spirit of Trancoso.
Vendimia, Mendoza: 28th February-4th March. Have you long harboured (secret) dreams of dancing around in a great vat of grapes as local musicians strum on violins? So have we. Conjuring up the magic of nature and the art of production, the Festival de la Vendimia in Mendoza celebrates the grape harvest in one of the world’s best wine regions.
Ushuaia Classical Music Festival: 31st March-14th April. For fans of classical music, head down to the world’s most southern city where as well as sampling the local speciality of king snow crab (reason enough in itself), the little town plays host to some of classical music’s most talented musicians during the world’s most ‘austral’ classical music festival.
Easter processions: March/April varies. As a predominantly Catholic continent, Easter celebrations across Latin America are often as elaborate as they are extended. Our hot tip is to head to Cartagena for 10 days of parades filled with grandiosity and light where white hooded brotherhoods lead rose-strewn coffins past ornate colonial churches, best observed from the balcony of one of our favorite apartments.
Buenos Aires Book Fair: 19th April- 7th May. Oh book worms, book worms, where for art thou? Flee from the libraries for now is a truly special time to visit a city often described as the Paris of Latin America for its romantic tree lined avenues, café culture and hive of passionate artists on course to change the world. The perfect place then to unite the world’s most important editors, authors and collectors with over 1.2 million readers during the Latin speaking world’s largest book fair.
Lima Art Week: May. Lima is high on our short list for this year’s hippest Latin American city, with an outstanding culinary scene that continues to delight and a booming art scene that has turned it into one of the hottest places to snap up emerging artists. Dehouche have created a Special Insider Experience with Marco Testino to open up the scene to art fans and investors (year round), that will have you swinging from underground galleries to private collectors’ cocktail parties
Art B.A: 18th-22nd May. Swap your pisco sours for a chilled Torrontes and dust off those high heels for another week of inspirational exhibitions and chic cultural gatherings during Buenos Aires’s international art fair.
The Festival of the Sun God, Cusco: 24th June. The grandest display of Incan culture can be witnessed during recreation of the winter solstice that takes places among Cusco’s most sacred sites. While the main procession takes place on the 24th, the surrounding days play host to a variety of street fairs, processions and concerts.
Fashion Week Rio de Janeiro: June. While Rio may be famed for its beautiful beaches and sea of toned lithe bodies, in reality Cariocas are the most relaxed when it comes to letting it all hang out. If you have been angling for the ultimate Brazilian beach experience then Rio Summer Fashion Week is for you ( when we say ‘Summer’ we mean ‘Swimwear’) Join the gorgeous models who flit between catwalk shows and parties in private mansions- great for upping the facebook profile status.
Paraty Literary Festival – FLIP: 4th July-8th July. Join the Brazilian Cognoscenti and international smart set who take over Colonial town Paraty, set on the gorgeous Brazilian Costa Verde, for a week of intellectual debates over caipirinhas.
Super Surf ASP Masters, Rio: 29th July. Although we have often been known to head to Arpoador rocks for a late afternoon sundowner, come July we practically have to camp out, as the world’s top surfers hit this little stretch of Ipanema beach for the Super Surf ASP Masters. Rio de Janeiro taken over by pro-surfers- a week not to miss.
Medellin Flower Festival: Early August. At the beginning of August, the City of Eternal Spring comes into its own with the world’s largest flower festival. Combining ancient tradition with modern flair and a lot of aguadiente, for more details: http://tinyurl.com/3enbfno
Bumba Meu Boi & Kuarup: August. Bumba Meu Boi takes place across the North East and celebrates the regions different cultural influences… with all the joy and colour of a traditional Brazilian Carnival. For a seriously off the beaten track experience, head into the Amazon jungle to witness the Kuarup Festival, where indigenous tribes have been meeting for centuries to honour the dead.
World Tango Festival, Buenos Aires: Aug/September. Shake up the two-step during the world’s biggest tango event. Dehouche can organize a special tailor-made tango programme that will have you delving into the tango world and dancing with modern day legends.
Sao Paulo Biennale: September 8th. The 30th edition of the impressive art and architecture exhibition that takes places every two years in Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera park and has become a meeting point for Latin America’s greatest talent.
Sao Paulo International Film Festival: October. Cultural vultures would do well to book a few months off and move to Sao Paulo, for straight on the heels of the Biennale comes the Sao Paulo International Film Festival, showcasing some of the hottest emerging talent from around the globe.
Dia de La Tradicion, Argentina: November. On the 11th of November, the tiny historical town of San Antonio de Areco is overtaken by thousands of Gauchos who ride in from across the aristocratic Pampas to celebrate the Gaucho tradition.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo: 23rd-25th November. Sao Paulo is the final stop of the Grand Prix circuit, and when combined with the city’s happening restaurant and nightlife scene, it becomes one of the year’s most exciting times to visit the city. For How to do Sao Paulo like a Race Car Driver: http://tinyurl.com/breywxb
Argentine Open Polo Final, Buenos Aires: Second weekend of December. Feel the fever as the world’s top polo players take each other during the final of the Argentine Open in Palermo. For the full lowdown: http://tinyurl.com/ck62tya
Reveillon: Welcome in the New Year at some of the world’s hippest spots: From honouring the Sea Goddess Iemanja in Rio, to partying it up with the Jetset in Jose Ignacio, New Year in Latin America should not be missed.
These are only a small hand picked selection of the myriad of fantastic festivals and events that take place across Latin America. Please contact Dehouche to plan a special trip and leave us your comments on your favourite Latin American festival.