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Festivals and Holidays in Bolivia

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5477 words Published: 11th Jul 2018

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A festival is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival. Among many religions, a feast is a set of celebrations in honour of God or gods. A feast and a festival are historically interchangeable. However, the term “feast” has also entered common secular parlance as a synonym for any large or elaborate meal. When used as in the meaning of a festival, most often refers to a religious festival rather than a film or art festival.

In the Christian liturgical calendar there are two principal feasts, properly known as the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas) and the Feast of the Resurrection, (Easter). In the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican liturgical calendars there are a great number of lesser feasts throughout the year commemorating saints, sacred events, doctrines, etc.

For a list of festivals in the USA, please see List of festivals in the United States.


The annual tradition of Alasitas involves buying tiny replicas of the things you want the coming year, and offering them to the Ekeko, who carries them (literally, the things are supposed to be sown or somehow attached to him) during the year.

In Bolivia, Ekeko is a character associated with abundance and prosperity, and he is the central figure in the Festival of Alasitas. This event is based in the city of La Paz, but can also be seen in other cities of Bolivia. Juan Apaza writes about some of the scenes from Alasitas in El Alto Hoy [es].



Alasitas is a 3-week long fair that, in La Paz, takes place beginning on the 24th of January and in Santa Cruz takes place in September. Everything is in miniature! This festival originally took place in September throughout the country when it’s spring time in Bolivia and farmers prayed for a good crop so their harvest would be bountiful. Alasitas is an Aymara festival Bolivia celebrates in reverence of the indigenous “god of bounty” or “abundance” called the Ekkekko. Therefore, Alasitas has been called the Festival of Abundance. It takes place at the Parque Urbano in La Paz and the 5th Ring between Tres Pasos al Frente and Cumavi in Santa Cruz. As it grows each year, its location is sometimes moved.

Tradition that has spread to other parts of Bolivia as immigrants move around; however, in the Andean regions of the country the date was switched to January to commemorate an indigenous uprising that took place in 1781, let by Tupac Katari.

The Aymara have a god called the Ekkekko (meaning midget or dwarf). He’s the god of abundance. They purchase a statue of the Ekkekko which usually has a poncho made of “aguayo” fabric. The aguayo is the colorful handloomed lambswool or alpaca wool fabric that Aymara women use to carry produce or their children on their backs.

During Alasitas, which takes place just prior to Carnaval, everything you can possibly think of is sold in miniature. You can find miniature houses, cars, grocery store products, university diplomas, little tools and kitchen utensils, clothing, even passports and visas.

The Aymara purchase in miniature everything they hope the Ekkekko will grant them during the coming year. They then pin these things to his poncho and leave them there as a sort of altar in their homes throughout the year, in the hopes that he will help them acquire these things during that time.

When they first pin the miniature things to his poncho they put a cigarrette in his mouth and light it. They then pray to him as he smokes. Sometimes they drink alcohol and toss him a little drop or drop some onto the floor in front of the Ekkekko before drinking from the glass themselves. This, I’m told, is because you must always give to the Earth before taking for yourself.

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Alasitas is a great place to visit as a tourist. It’s incredibly interesting. But because it has also become very touristic, you can now purchase just about anything you want at Alasitas in the form of handcrafts and art pieces for tourists. In fact, it has become so popular that artisans come all the way from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and other places to sell their handcrafts too.

You can also find things that are not in miniature like great ceramics and leather goods. Definitely visit this month-long fair if you’re in La Paz in February or in Santa Cruz in September.

You can sample all kinds of great baked goods and dried fruits. I suggest trying the anticuchos. Anticuchos are like shish-kabobs. They’re little pieces of meat and potatoes stuck on to a thin metal stick and roasted on an open grill. Prior to handing the anticucho to you, the griller will slather a spicy sauce over it. The sauce is absolutely delicious and is made from peanuts and hot peppers. (Oh! And did I mention the meat is beef heart? Yum.)

Alasitas has become one of the best and largest venues for people to sell their goods and handcrafts each year. They sell so well that they’ve completely broken with tradition and now sell all kinds of things just for tourists. In addition, what used to be a 10-day fair has been extended to 30 days and they now move to Santa Cruz every year in September and stay a whole month there too. It’s rather amusing, really, since most of the people who sell at Alasitas claim to be staunchly anti-capitalist.

During the Alasitas Fair devotees buy miniatures of items they would like to own and offer them to Ekeko, the God of Plenty, while the Virgin of La Paz is also honoured.

Alasitas is Bolivia’s festival of small wishes, yearly held in different towns at different times. The largest fair is held yearly in the capital of La Paz, on January 24, when Bolivians buy miniatures representing the material goods they aspire to own and offer them to Ekeko, the God of Abundance.

The History of the Festival of Alasitas in Bolivia

There is not one conclusive theory about how and where the festival started. In the Aymará language, alasitas means “buy from me” and in pre-colonial times Alasitas was celebrated in September [Bolivian springtime], to ensure a good crop.

It is said that the Spanish changed the date to January 24 in commemoration of an indigenous uprising in 1781: the siege of La Paz by Tupac Katari. During the colonisation the Spanish tried to force Catholicism on the indigenous people. They partly succeeded, many Bolivians became Catholics, but in fact the Bolivian religion became a mix of Catholicism and traditional Andean beliefs and rituals.

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Who Celebrates the Alasitas Fair?

Alasitas has become a potpourri where Catholicism is mixed with centuries-old Andes traditions. The main divinity is Ekeko, but Catholic priests give their blessing to the newly acquired miniature goods as well, while simultaneously the Virgin of La Paz is honoured. Whereas the Franciscans focus on the Virgin, the yatiris – the local wizards – focus on Ekeko; the average Bolivian cares about both.

Alasitas is a festival for everybody and celebrated by Bolivians from all levels of society. It is celebrated by the inhabitants of villages, cities and countryside, by the highlanders and the lowlanders, by the indigenous and the criollos, as well as by western orientated entrepreneurs.

Who is Ekeko, Bolivia’s God of Plenty?

Ekeko [“dwarf” in Aymará] is the household god and it is not unusual for Bolivians to have a representation of this short and chubby, happy-looking fellow in their home. To ensure good luck the statue should be received as a gift and not be personally bought. Ekeko brings wealth into the family and keeps misfortune at bay.

To obtain the favour of fortune, Bolivians like to present Ekeko with miniatures – mostly made of a sugary substance – of products they would like to own. These can be a house, a car, furniture, clothes, an airplane but also food. A miniature passport may be bought if one has the wish to travel, a university diploma in case one wants to study or when graduation is near.

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Perfectly copied miniature dollar and euro notes are favoured over local bolivianos in case one wants wealth. Ekeko loves smoking, his statue has a special hole in the mouth to offer him a cigarette.

Where in La Paz is La Fiesta de las Alasitas Celebrated?

Calle Sagárnaga is the commercial centre of the indigenous handicraft of miniatures. This is the heart of the tourist centre where thousands of tourists stroll down the alleys in search of souvenirs and to admire the local curiosities of miniatures and other products that bring good fortune.

The Bolivians especially come for the latter during Alasitas, and the streets are crammed with locals who need to buy their miniatures replicas in time – the blessings will take place around noon and they should be prepared by then.

The location of the ritual of blessings may change yearly. It is best to ask at a Tourist Information, or another tourist location such as a hotel, restaurant or museum where the main activities will be held.

The Alasitas Festival in La Paz, Bolivia

Alasitas is one of La Paz’ important festivals. On January 24 Bolivians buy miniatures of products they would like to own and offer them to their God of Abundance, Ekeko. This festival gives tourists an insight into the typical Bolivian mixture of Catholicism and local beliefs.

Holidays and Festivals in Bolivia



This is a colourful, happy event tinged with poignancy. At the end of January the streets in the centre of La Paz fill with people from the city and the countryside, many of them in traditional dress, eagerly buying finely-crafted miniatures from street stalls and vendors. The figures represent material goods that the people aspire to own. It might be a tiny automobile or a bag of cement to represent a new home. A miniature passport or postage stamp might secure a dream of travel and tiny banknotes might bring wealth. One of the most popular figurine is Ekeko, “The God of Abundance”, a popular, generous and all encompassing divinity. At the end of frenzied buying and selling there is a procession to visit the Yatiri, a wizard who blesses all the objects.

Virgen de la Candelaria

The festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria, in many images, is celebrated on February 2 in various Hispanic Catholic countries, including Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela and Uruguay.

The celebrations in Peru and Bolivia are centered around Lake Titicaca, in Puno and the small village of Copacabana. In Bolivia, the Virgen is also known as the Dark Virgin of the Lake, and the Patroness Of Bolivia. She is revered for a series of miracles, recounted in Nuestra Señora de Copacabana and has another festival on August 5. Normally, Copacabana is a quiet, rural village with fishing and agriculture the mainstays. However, the week before and the day of the fiesta, the village changes.

There are parades, colorful costumes, music and a lot of drinking and celebrating. New vehicles are brought in from all over Bolivia to be blessed with beer. People gather for days ahead to pray and to celebrate in a mixture of Catholic and native religions. Bolivian celebrants believe the Virgen prefers to stay inside the Basilica erected in her honor. When taken outside, there is a risk of storm or other calamity.

Carnaval de Oruro and Diablada Festival

Say Carnaval and what images come to mind? Fantastically and scantily garbed dancers, pounding samba rhythms, parades, incessant revelry? Carnaval de Oruro, Bolivia?

In Bolivia, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Tarija and La Paz hold carnavals but the carnaval in Oruro,is the most famous. It takes place for the eight days preceeding Ash Wednesday. Unlike carnaval in Rio where the escolas de samba choose a new theme each year, carnaval in Oruro always begins with the diablada or devil dance. The diablada is a centuries-old ritual surviving unchanged from colonial days.

Next are hundreds of devils in monstrous costumes. The heavy masks have horns bulging eyes fangs long hair and in contrast to the frightening masks the devils wear sparkling breastplates silk embroidered shawls and golden spurs. Between the devils groups of dancers dressed as monkeys pumas and insects caper to the music from brass bands, or pipers or drummers. The noise is loud and frenzied.

Out of the devil dancers comes China Supay, the Devil’s wife, who dances a seductive dance to entice the Archangel Michael. Around her dance the members of local workers unions, each carrying a small symbol of their union such as pickaxes or shovels. Dancers dressed as Incas with condor headdresses and suns and moons on their chests dance along with dancers dressed as the black slaves imported by the Spaniards to work in the silver mines.

Family members led by the matriarchs in yellow dresses appear in order: first the husbands dressed in red, next come the daughters in green, followed by the sons in blue. The families dance their way to the football stadium where the next part of the celebrations takes place.

Two plays begun, as medieval mystery plays, are enacted. The first portrays the Conquest by the Spanish conquistadores. The second is the triumph of the Archangel Michael as he defeats the devils and the Seven Deadly Sins with his flaming sword. The results of the battle are announced the Patron Saint of the Miners the Virgen del Socavon and the dancers sing a Quecha hymn.

Although the references to the Spanish conquest and the downtrodden state of the Bolivian peasants are very clear, this festival is based on the pre-Colonial ceremony of giving thanks to the earth-mother Pachamama. It commemorates the struggles of good and evil and the early Catholic priests allowed it to continue with a Christian overlay in an effort to pacify the local natives.

The celebration of carnaval continues for days as the diablada dancers break into smaller groups and continue dancing around huge bonfires. Onlookers join the procession at any point and with the consumption of strong Bolivian beer and the very potent chicha made from fermented cereals and corn they get rowdy. Many sleep in doorways or where they fall until they awake and continue celebrating. If you plan to be in Oruro or any of the towns celebrating carnaval, follow the basic safety precautions:

  • Dress comfortably
  • Allow yourself time to get acclimated to the altitude
  • Watch what you drink – chicha hangovers are awful!
  • Leave your valuables behind

Carnaval de Santa Cruz

Refleja el espíritu alegre del pueblo cruceño. Comienza un mes antes con las fiestas “precarnavaleras”en las que participan todas las comparsas juveniles encabezadas por su Reina. Una semana antes del carnaval se lleva a cabo el minicorso en el cual se realiza la proclamación de la soberana anual del Carnaval .

A partir del atardecer del sábado y hasta el amanecer del domingo de carnaval tiene lugar el deslumbrante Corso en el que “saltan”alrededor de 300 comparsas. Las mismas recorren las calles de la ciudad al ritmo de bandas y “tamborita”. En el recorrido el visitante podrá admirar un marco desbordante de lujo y colorido en hermosas fantasías, impresionantes carros alegóricos que transportan a las reinas, también percibirá el intento por rescatar los motivos regionales y el respeto al medio ambiente.

El espectáculo adquiere su máxima fastuosidad cuando ingresa la reina del carnaval cruceño con toda su corte constituida por los integrantes de la comparsa coronadora.

En estas fiestas la mujer es la principal protagonista pues, al estar completamente disfrazada, hace de las suyas escogiendo pareja, coqueteando e invitando a bailar a los varones que asisten a dichas fiestas. El público podrá apreciar que la entrada de los grupos está dividida en tres bloques folklóricos: regional, nacional e internacional.

También participan de esta fiesta conjuntos típicos, entre los que destacan los de la Chiquitanía que entran acompañados de tamboristas al son de chovenas (ritmo oriental).

El frenesí continua el domingo, lunes y martes , días en que la población baila y se divierte en las calles céntricas de la ciudad jugando con agua, pintura y espumas, viviendo momentos de total alegría.

Pujllay or Phujllay in Tarabuco, Sucre

The Pujllay or Game begins with a Catholic mass in Quechua language it stops then to continue with the party and the rejoicing for the victory of the Battle of “Jumbata “in a parade of nonpareil coloring, the peasants move to the place where the Pucara is and they dance in circles to its surroundings to the they are of the Tokoros, Pinquillos, Spurs, Bells and Drummers.

The Pucara that consists on a support or stairway covered with great variety of agricultural products, besides drinks, breads and others taken place by the peasants of the region.

Labor Day or May Day

If you are traveling in Latin America on the first day of May, you can expect to find banks, government offices, stores, post offices and businesses closed for the day as people celebrate the Día Internacional Del Trabajo with parades, demonstrations and other symbols of solidarity with the worker.

Bolivia celebrated Día Internacional del Trabajo for the first time on May 1, 1936. Day of the Worker, or May Day, had already been established in Europe, and would shortly sweep across the Latin American countries.

The communist and socialist countries embraced the day, and over time, May Day became associated with those political systems in many non-English speaking countries.

“In Paris in 1889 the International Working Men’s Association (the First International) declared May 1st an international working class holiday in commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs. The red flag became the symbol of the blood of working class martyrs in their battle for workers rights.”

The Origins And Traditions Of Mayday

Who were the Haymarket Martyrs? They are all but ignored in the history of the United States, who moved the May Day labor celebrations to September. May Day: what happened to the radical workers’holiday? The first Monday in September is now the Labor Day holiday, but it has very little to do with the reason for a working man’s holiday. This history is detailed in May Day – the Real Labor Day.

Long before May Day, The Workers’Day, born in the struggle for the eight-hour day came to be, the first of May was a traditional day of feasting, celebrating spring, fertility, romance and more.

The Pagan Origins of May Day asks “Why did the Labour Movement choose May Day as International Labour Day? It’s more that May Day chose the Labour Movement. Unlike Easter, Whitsun or Christmas, May Day is the one festival of the year for which there is no significant church service. Because of this it has always been a strong secular festival, particularly among working people who in previous centuries would take the day off to celebrate it as a holiday, often clandestinely without the support of their employer. It was a popular custom, in the proper sense of the word – a people’s day – so it was naturally identified with the Labour and socialist movements and by the twentieth century it was firmly rooted as part of the socialist calendar.”

So now you know why everything shuts down on May 1. It’s a good idea to play it safe that day and stay away from parades and rallies that might prove explosive.

Gran Poder

The merging of pre-Columbian religions and the Roman Catholic faith created a number of religious observations, including the Fiesta del Gran Poder celebrated primarily in La Paz, Bolivia. The event began in the late 1930’s with a small number of dancers and is today a huge event.

The festival centers around the devotion to Christ as the second person in the Holy Trinity based on an anonymous painting of the Trinity dating from the early XVII century. The three entities were painted withIndian or mestizo features. Though the Catholic church had forbidden human representations of the Holy Trinity, a young novice named Genoveva Carrión took it with her when she entered the Monasterio de la Purísima Concepción. When the religious order downsized, the painting found its way into different lay hands, finally ending up with Plácido López who lived in the barrio Chijini in la Paz.

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A small chapel was built to honor the Holy Trinity and then Bishop Augsto Scheifert direct two not-quite-expert artists to paint over the two side figures. They did so, but one, wanting to retouch the eyes, came back one night. When the remaining figure moved its head, the artist fled, but many favors or miracles were attributed to the Christ figure. Devotion grew and in 1939 the chapel was officially named Iglesia Parroquial del Gran Poder.

In the years since, the festival of El Gran Poder has grown into an international celebration. Parades and processions with the dark figure of the Christ (see photo), music and costumed dancers honoring cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Of these, La Morenada is the most famous.

Held annually at the beginning of June, the Fiesta del Gran Poder is La Paz’s biggest street party. Copious amount of local beers and food are consumed. Visitors wanting a place to stay during the celebrations make advance reservations.

Columbus Day

October 12 (or the nearest Monday to it) is traditionally celebrated throughout the Americas as the day Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

In English speaking countries, the day is celebrated as Columbus Day or Native American Day. In Spanish speaking countries and communities, is is known as Día de la Raza, the Day of the Race.

Día de la Raza is the celebration of the Hispanic heritage of Latin America and brings into it all the ethnic and cultural influences making it distinctive.

It is celebrated on October 12 in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela, Not anymore in Bolivia, because the strong feelings about the real situation of native americans on Spaniards Rule.

A few historical facts behind the holiday:

  • Cristóbal Colón, born Cristoforo Colombo, following the newly accepted theory that the world was round and not flat, sailed west from Spain to find a new route to China or the East Indies. He wanted also to prove his calculations of the earth’s circumference.
  • He was off on his calculations and he didn’t find a new spice route. Instead, on October 12, 1492, he and his small fleet of three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, landed on one of the islands now known as the Bahamas. The exact island is a matter of debate and conjecture, but from there, he went on to Cuba and Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and went back to Spain to recount his adventures.
  • With royal approval and funding, he set forth in 1493 with a fleet of 17 ships and retraced his earlier voyage. This time he explored Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands, founded a colony on Hispaniola. He did not find any spices, nor gold in great quantities, but returned again to Spain. He made his third journey to the New World in 1498, where he explored the coast of Venezuela and was awed by the sweet water of the Orinoco where it flowed into the Atlantic.
  • For his efforts, Columbus was made admiral and Governor General of the new colonies until he was sent back to Spain in disgrace in 1500. He overcame that humiliation sufficiently to make a fourth and final voyage in 1502, landing in Costa Rica. When he died in 1506, Columbus was dishonored and all but forgotten. Whether he should be celebrated as the man who opened Central and South America to exploration and colonization, or excoriated for the same thing is a continuing debate.
  • Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day are reviled in places because he is blamed for bringing the evils of slavery, the encomienda system and the diseases of Europe to Latin America. He was avaricious, cruel and paved the way for the conquista.

Now, 500 plus years later, we recall his deeds and celebrate not Columbus the man, but the actions and influences of all the people who came after him, who melded their European culture with the indigenous cultures and, with difficulty, blood and years of battle, misunderstandings and treachery, have created the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society we now celebrate with the Día de la Raza.

Note: It was up to others to name the places where he had landed or to discover the route to China. Amerigo Vespucci named Venezuela afer his native Venice, and Vasco da Gama sailed round the Cape of Good Hope and the Indian Ocean to the Far East, opening the Spice Route for Portugal.

All Saints Day

November 1 is celebrated throughout the Catholic world as Día de Todos Santos, or All Saints Day, to honor all the saints, known and unknown, of the Catholic faithful. Every day of the year has its own saint or saints, but there are more saints than calendar days, and this one major holy day honors them all, including those who had died in a state of grace but had not been canonized. And, to keep things fair, November 2 is celebrated as the Day of All Souls.

Día de Todos Santosis also known as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Like many other Catholic celebrations, in the New World it was grafted onto existing indigenous festivities to meld the “new”Catholicism with the “old”pagan beliefs.

In countries where the Europeans eventually reduced the indigenous populations, by one means or another, the celebrations gradually lost their native meaning and became more of a traditional Catholic event.

In Latin American countries where the indigenous culture is still strong, such as in Guatemala and Mexico in Central America, and in Bolivia in South America, Día de Todos Santosis an important meld of many influences.

In Central America, the dead are honored by visits to the their gravesites, often with food, flowers and all family members. In Bolivia, the dead are expected to return to their homes and villages.

The Andean emphasis is agricultural, since November 1 is in spring south of the Equator. It is the time of returning rains and the reflowering of the earth. The souls of the dead also return to reaffirm life.

During this time, the doors are opened to guests, who enter with clean hands and share in the traditional dishes, particularly the favorites of the deceased. Tables are bedecked with bread figurines called t’antawawas, sugarcane, chicha, candies and decorated pastries.

At the cemeteries, the souls are greeted with more food, music, and prayers. Rather than a sad occasion, the Día de Todos Santos is a joyous event.

In Peru, November 1 is celebrated nationally, but in Cuzco its known as Día de todos los Santos Vivos, or Day of the Living Saints and celebrated with food, particularly the famed suckling pig and tamales. November 2 is considered the Día de los Santos Difuntosor Day of the Deceased Saints and is honored with visits to cemeteries.

Wherever you are in Latin America on the first and second of November, enjoy the local holidays!

Virgen de Copacabana

A religios festival for the virgin of the snow. Mass, folkloric dancing and processions. 5th – 6th Virgen de Copacabana – Copacabana (La Paz).

Celebration for the Virgin of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Dancing, processions, folkloric displays.

Virgen de Urcupiña or Virgen de Urqupiña

Festival in Quillacollo (Cochabamba). One of the most important religious festivals in Cochabamba. It is a colorful &religious festival with a large mass, folkloric dancing, processions, typical food and the sale of miniature handicrafts.


The Chutillos festival in Potosi is definitely worth it. Especially the first day with the authentic dances and costumes is marvelous.

Virgen de Guadalupe

Festivals celebrated in Viacha (La Paz), Sucre (Chuquisaca) and Valle Grande (Santa Cruz), but by far in Sucre is the biggest.

A religious festival in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Folkloric dances, bull fights, music, dancing and typical food and drink.

San Roque

Festival in Tarija, (Although the fiesta day of San Roque is officially on the 16th of August). An 8-day long celebration for the patron saint of dogs, San Roque. Unique costumes, processions, music and dancing. The biggest party and typical of the Tarija region with its unique music style.

Each year on January 24 a large marketplace in La Paz, Bolivia, is full of merchants who traditionally call out, ” Alasitas,” an Aymara word meaning “buy from me,” to potential buyers of their miniature wares. Shoppers can find tiny replicas of just about every kind of object-cars, houses, foods, furniture, clothes, tools, household goods, and, especially, money-and seek those which represent items they would like to have in the coming year. After purchasing the miniature object of one’s desire, the next step is to take it to church to have it blessed.

Presiding over all this downsized commerce is Ekeko, an Aymara god of material wealth, fertility, and good luck. Ekeko is represented as a portly little man who wears a backpack full of goods and whose arms are stretched out, as if in an attitude of acquisition. Many people keep ceramic figures of Ekeko in their homes for good luck.


The Maldives will hold a Hay festival starting October 14 with the intention of celebrating “ideas, conversations and fun”.

The festival will bring together international and local experts in literature, art, science, drama, music and poetry, according to a statement from the President’s Office.

Maldivian writers including Ogaru Ibrahim Waheed and Fathmath Nahula will join historian and biographer Jung Chang (author of Wild Swans and Mao), novelist Ian McEwan (author of Atonement) and environmental campaigners Montagu Don, Tim Smit, Mark Lynas and Chris Gorell-Barnes.

Mauritian-born, electronic fusion artist Ravin will perform and local bands will include Fasy Live. Lectures will also be delivered online by prominent artists, scientists and historians.

“The Maldives has been a multi-party democracy for only two years and this new freedom has opened up a host of new opportunities both culturally and politically,” the statement said.

Some events will be held on the Presidential Retreat on Aarah, allowing rare public access to the island.

The Hay Festival began in the Welsh book town of Hay-on-Wye in Brecon Beacons National Park in the UK, and has fostered the exchange of ideas for more than twenty years.

Hay Festival Maldives will commission a series of lectures to be delivered online by prominent artists, scientists and historians. These will debate environments that are facing transformation over the next one hundred years and what this means for the people living there.

Speakers include historian and biographer Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and Mao, the novelist Ian McEwan, author of Atonement, and environmental writers and campaigners Montagu Don, Mark Lynas and Tim Smit. They will appear alongside Maldivian writers including Ogaru Ibrahim Waheed and Fathmath Nahula. Mauritian-born, electronic fusion artist Ravin provides musical enchantment, and local bands performing include Fasy Live.

As well as the live events, Hay Festival Maldives


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