Noche de San Juan (Night of St. John)

The night of the 23rd to the 24th, Bolivia will celebrate the Noche de San Juan (Night of St. John) it’s a very ancient tradition which is celebrated in many parts of Europe and Latin America, and is an established event in Bolivia, this is a tradition brought to the country by the Spanish colonist; in the northern hemisphere Noche de San Juan celebrated the shortest night of the year and the arrival of summer; while here in Bolivia it was adapted to celebrate the coldest night of the year and the arrival of winter. The traditional way to celebrate this event consisted in bonfires where fire wood and old furniture where burned on the city streets. Families and friends gathered together around the bonfires to celebrate the coldest night of the year. The bonfires were accompanied by heartily food, “ponche” (alcoholic beverage, served hot), music, dance and a lot of fireworks. In modern times and due to ecological concerns authorities have banned the practice of setting on fire wood and old furniture, but the party and the family reunion continues to live on. In small towns and remote areas of the country bonfires are still lit on San Juan Night.

In the modern version of Noche de San Juan, the party has also met the modern life, been carried out in clubs, bars and discotheques as well. It’s a well publicized event around Bolivia, just ask you’re hotel concierge or taxi driver for a good San Juan Night party and they will give you good tips on how to get to one. Music, dance, hot dogs and ponche are a big part of the party and off course fireworks. If you are in Bolivia on the 23rd don’t miss out the opportunity of been part this great tradition.

Traveler Warning: Possible Violence in Tarija

This warning is for people traveling to Bolivia in general and to Tarija city and Department in particular. On Sunday, June 22nd and after, violence could explode in this area, when an illegal autonomy referendum is scheduled, due to the illegality of this act, civil unrest, demonstrations and blockades are expected.

Demonstrations or large gatherings may take place in major cities on June 22nd and after. Travelers are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational between the promoters of this act and security forces, demonstrators, and bystanders, and escalate into violence. Travelers are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any protests. If you find yourself in the vicinity of a large gathering, it is recommended you leave the area immediately for your own safety. Travelers should stay current with media coverage of local events.

In addition to civil unrest in cities, it is not uncommon for roads between cities to be blocked by protesters or marchers. Please note that the police have limited capabilities outside major cities and communication is poor.

The police will be on alert for potential civil unrest. Because the police will be involved in addressing potential civil unrest, there will be minimal police patrols. As a result, you can expect criminals to take advantage of large crowds and use ruse or diversionary tactics to prey on potential street victims. Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and theft are the most common street crimes during such periods. Everyone is advised to limit their cash on hand, unnecessary credit cards, jewelry, and other portable valuables.

Aymara New Year & Winter Solstice in Tihuanaku

Aymara New Year & Winter Solstice in Tihuanaku

Come and celebrate de Winter Solstice and the New Year on the Aymara Calendar in Tihuanaku Bolivia. The event is celebrated with dances and Andean music, and it has its pinnacle with the ritual to receive the first light of day ("Wilkakuti" return of the sun in Aymara) this done annually in the ruins of Tihuanaku-Kalasasaya temple marking a new year on the Aymara calendar (year 5,516 this year).

Each June 21st, Bolivian and foreigners gather in Tiwanaku for this mystic celebration, witch is believed to fill spectators to this ritual, with the energy of the Wilkakuti. The event starts the previous night on the planes out side the Kalasasaya temple, in an eclectic atmosphere filled with Sicuri Music, native dances and the smell of bonfire, this last through the entire night.

The bonfires are necessary to weather the extreme cold of the southern hemisphere winter; with temperatures of less than 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) for sure you’ll need a warm coat to be there. If you are planning to attend this event you should take with you warm clothes, gloves, scarf and everything you consider necessary to stand the natures forces. There are some kiosk’s available but don’t expect nothing fancy or elaborate, so maybe it could be a good idea to take something to eat and drink.

At 6 am, the next day just before starts to rise, all is ready to receive the Aymara New Year, everyone is cheerful, Yatiris (Aymara shamans) begin to lay alcohol in the ground, shouting Jallalla (cheers to the mother earth) and invoking the Sun (Tata Inti) for a good harvest in the coming year. At that moment, just when the sun starts rising; people believe that by doing so, their bodies and minds have been revitalized and cleansed. This ritual puts end to the celebration, then everybody heads back to La Paz or their place of origin.

You can make arrangement to attend this magic ritual with almost any Travel Guide Agency in La Paz or in the Sagarnaga Street, since this is a largely known event in Bolivia.
La fiesta tuvo varias replicas en distintos lugares como: The celebration of the Winter Solstice and Aymara New Year is also celebrated in other places in Bolivia, like:

-La Paz is held in the so-called Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), located near Mallasa in the south of La Paz, the Apacheta of the Cumbre at 5,000 meters above seas level, in the Horca del Inca in the town of Copacabana in the Titicaca Lake.
-In the Samaipata fort, built by Incas, in eastern Bolivia in the Santa Cruz Department.
-Uyuni in the Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Lake) in Potosi.
-In Oruro in the Pampa of Aullagas, which according to investigations of the British cartographer Jim Allen it’s the place where the Atlantis was located.

Read More about Tihuanaku by clicking here.
Use our search tool to find Travel Guide’s to attend this event by clicking here

Road Conditions

Due to social unrest the roads from Oruro-Cochabamba, Sucre-Potosi and Cochabamba-Santa Cruz are blocked. Avoid traveling through this area as possible. More updates on this coming soon. (Date: 6/3/08)

Update: The Roads: Oruro-Cochabamba, Sucre-Potosi and Cochabamba-Santa Cruz are clear for now. New blockades are expected, negociations are taking please at this moment. Be aware that the situation can change rapidly. Is adviced to check the local news for additional updates. (Date: 6/9/08)