A travel company that has made delving as deeply as possible into other cultures its signature suggests that festivals offer windows into what a community traditionally values.
“Whereas museums offer curated snapshots of a culture’s past, local festivals offer a vibrant, visceral connection to regional customs in their most colorful incarnations” observes Jim Kane, founder/owner of Culture Xplorers. "Our mission is to change the way people travel; to make the experience of travel more engaged, more connected and more reciprocal for both the travelers and the local communities with which we come into contact and that so generously enrich our understanding of the world."
Kane, through his US-based adventure travel company Culture Xplorers (http://www.culturexplorers.com/) schedules a number of his trips to coincide with festivals. Here are four of his favorite, under-the-radar festivals in Latin America:
January Festival (Fiestas de Enero), Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico. From Jan. 15-23there’s non-stop revelry in this normally quite town, with the excitement culminating in a mock naval battle on the Grijalva River. During the dance of the Parachicos, hundreds of townspeople dress in brightly colored sarapes, wooden masks made to resemble the original Spanish colonizers and wigs made of shocks of bristling broom thistle. Shaking rattles and dancing through town, this sight is a remarkable visual and musical spectacle paying homage to a local legend about a noble Spanish lady, her sick child and a local healer who was able to cure him.
Experience this as part of Culture Xplorers’ San Sebastian departure. See:http://www.culturexplorers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Chiapas-SS-Jan-2014.pdf
Easter Pilgrimage, Tilcara, Argentina.Wednesday of Easter Week. Tilcara, tucked into Argentina's northwestern-most province close to the border with Bolivia, is known as an artists’ enclave. But on this day it turns into the site of one of South America's great pilgrimages. Thousands ofsikuris (pan flute wielding devotees of the Virgen of Copacabana) return from the Virgen's mountain sanctuary, carrying banners and playing their pan flutes.
Experience this as part of Culture Xplorers’ Argentina True North departure. See:http://www.culturexplorers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Argentina-True-North-APRIL-2014.pdf
Virgen del Carmen Celebration, Paucartambo, Peru. This Andean hamlet (population 5,000) July 15-17 becomes the staging ground for an atmospheric, energetic and heart-felt homage to the town's beloved Mamacha Carmen (the Virgen of Carmen). More than 15comparsas (dance troupes) decked out in fantastical masks and elaborate costumes portray the region's ethnic groups, professions and history, in turns majestic and humorous. Dazzling fireworks and daredevil dancers ignite the town's square on the festival's opening night, while the story of the Mamacha Carmen's victory over the demons and other forces of evil is re-enacted on the 16th. On the final day, a moving procession to visit dearly departed members of the various comparsas concludes the breathtaking annual event.
Experience this as part of Culture Xplorers’ Virgen del Carmen departure. See:http://www.culturexplorers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Peru-VDC-2014.pdf
Day of the Dead Kite Festival, Sumpango, Guatemala. Annually on Nov. 1 residents here fly colorful kites inscribed with messages to their dearly departed. The focal point of the festivities is the town's cemetery where families gather to commune and celebrate with relatives past and present a giant kite competition adds an exclamation point to the annual fest, with dozens of super-sized, technicolor entrants -- some measuring more than 30 feet across -- competing for prizes and the cameras' eye.
Experience this as part of Culture Xplorers’ Coffee, Kite & Cookstoves departure. See:http://www.culturexplorers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Coffee-Kites-Cookstoves-2014.pdf
About Culture Xplorers
Culture Xplorers (http://www.culturexplorers.com/), a leader in sustainable travel, offers handcrafted journeys that deepen understanding and foster connection between travelers and local communities around the world.
Culture Xplorers trips are created from the ground up, built on three founding pillars: people, traditions and impact. Their travelers meet the people of the places they visit, engaging in the living traditions that make each destination unique, and in doing so, create a lasting, positive impact through tourism. Genuine connections with people and place are formed farm-to-fork and around the table, via participation in local celebrations and through authentic exchange with community leaders and members.
Countries where cultural exchanges are fostered are Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Cuba (in 2014). The Culture Xplorers Foundation was founded in 2007 to help foster the sustainability of local culture in at risk communities worldwide. Its positive impact partnerships focus on sustaining endangered traditions, strengthening education, fostering community-based travel and breaking the cycle of poverty through the support of comprehensive micro-loan and education programs. See: http://www.cxfoundation.org/
For 2013-2014 season information, tours, availability and reservations contact Culture Xplorers at (215) 870-3585 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.