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Venezuela Carnaval
Venezuela Carnaval


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Both Puerto La Cruz and Porlamar are veritable United Nations of cruising sailboats. Flags from all over the world fly on boats in these two harbors as they stop off for provisions and adventures.
Simón de Bolívar:
Message to the Congress of Angostura, 1819
"We are not Europeans; we are not Indians; we are but a mixed species of aborigines and Spaniards. Americans by birth and Europeans by law, we find ourselves engaged in a dual conflict: we are disputing with the natives for titles of ownership, and at the same time we are struggling to maintain ourselves in the country that gave us birth against the opposition of the invaders. Thus our position is most extraordinary and complicated. But there is more. As our role has always been strictly passive and political existence nil, we find that our quest for liberty is now even more difficult of accomplishment; for we, having been placed in a state lower than slavery, had been robbed not only of our freedom but also of the right to exercise an active domestic tyranny. . .We have been ruled more by deceit than by force, and we have been degraded more by vice than by superstition. Slavery is the daughter of darkness: an ignorant people is a blind instrument of its own destruction."  [more]

The country's largest, most exuberant festival is Carnaval, which is made into a five day holiday weekend by most people getting the Carnaval Monday and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday off.  Characterized by music, dancing, parades and masquerades, the flavor of the event varies from region to region. Days are full of papelillos, disguises, surprises and games. All around the country, children, youths and adults enjoy the traditional music.


Venezuela is a country of striking natural beauty and dramatic contrasts: the snowcapped peaks of the Andes in the west, and steamy Amazonian jungles in the south; the hauntingly beautiful Gran Sabana plateau, with its strange flat-topped mountains, in the east, and 3000km (1860mi) of white-sand beaches fringed with coconut palms line the Caribbean coast. South America's largest lake, Lake Maracaibo, and third-longest river, the Orinoco, are also here, and the country boasts the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls. It is also home to a wide variety of exotic plants and animals, including the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, armadillo, anteater, and the longest snake in the world, the anaconda.

Los Tambores de Bariovento
Los Tambores de Bariovento, with its large black population from the nearby centuries-old coffee and banana plantations, is known for its African drums [Tambores] and other percussion instruments that are mostly Afro-Caribbean.

The Drums of Bariovento are celebrated at the beginning of the rain season in March, near Corpus Christi, in Bariovento, Miranda state. Bariovento is comprised of the towns Curiepe, Higuerote, Caucagua, & Tacarigua.

Isla de Margarita Carnaval
This carnaval sells out all the hotel rooms well in advance. Visit our guide

WHEN: Pre-Lenten

Carúpano Carnaval
Carúpano, in the Sucre state, is famous throughout the country for its elaborately staged Carnival. The Carnaval is over 125 years old and allows Carúpano to call itself the Carnaval capital of Venezuela. Carupano is a port city at the center of two peninsulas on the Northeast coast and a regular stop of the ferry to Isla de Margarita
WHEN: Pre-Lenten

Cumana was the first European city founded in the Americas - in 1521 by Gonzalo de Ocampo. It's located in the Gulf of Cariaco in the Oriente, the East of Venezuela. The capital of the Sucre state, it has a rich colonial legate: forts, castles and churches. The Sucre state is one of the wildest of all Venezuela and not known to many tourists.

Venezuela Carnaval Inland
In the interior of the country Venezuelans celebrate carnival with dances such as La Burriquita, El Pajaro Guarandol, El Carite and the theatre of La Quemada de Judas in which a symbolic Judas is thrown onto a pyre and burnt.
In Zulia, the mamarrachos, daubs and the viejitos come out to perform in a traditional parade of disguises.
Discover the Doll of the Calenda, a mysterious dance with the most diverse and curious of characters.

Maracaibo is the capital of Zulia state in western Venezuela, and is the second largest city in the country after Caracas. Maracaibo's La Chinita International Airport  MACZUL
is South America's largest contemporary art museum... Great night life with a diversity of nightclubs and cafés which can be found on the main streets of 72th, Dr. Portillo and Santa Rita Avenue, Visit Vereda del Lago park with its magnificent lake view.

Mérida organizes for the dates, carnestolendas, of the internationally famous Fair of the Sun. This fair had its origin in the celebration in honor of the Virgin of  Immaculate Conception. This had been traditionally held in the month of December, but for weather and other reasons the celebration was moved to coincide with the Carnaval beginning in 1969.

A highlight is the city parade of its comparsas, costumes and bands. During the nights, streets fill with the festive air of people looking to party. Some go to celebrations organized by clubs in special ballrooms, while others are content to roam the city center.

In the Carabobo state, Tuesday of Carnival vibrates with diversions such as the Donkey, Hamaca, the Cayman and the Scorpion.

WHEN: Pre-Lenten

Devil Dancers of Corpus Christi in JUNE 
The dancing can be seen in several towns, all within a day's drive of Caracas. Most are found along the coast, but the oldest and most famous is at San Francisco de Paula de Yare (in Estado Miranda to the south). Here the devils dress in red and yellow and sport ferocious papier-mache masks. During the day before Corpus Christi, the devils hold a night-time candlelit mass called the Velorio de los Diablos Danzantes. The devils pay penance at their carnival, and the number of horns that these devils wear show the number of sins for which they are paying. Los Diablos de Yare encompasses several cities and states.

In Naiguatá, the devils sport costumes decorated with circles, stripes and crosses and masks of terrifying sea creatures. This is the one place where women dance with the devils, who, uniquely, are not organized into a brotherhood. On the Wednesday before Corpus Christi the devils are called by the ringing of bells and three beats on a metal drum called a Caja. They descend upon the town and run amok before falling upon their knees to pray in front of the church.

On the day of Corpus Christi, the devils dance in the streets while mass is being heard, and worshippers renew their faith in this moment of heightened spirituality. After mass, the devils visit houses and shops, purging them of evil and receiving gifts in return. The people follow them to their destination, and a great party begins

The devil dancers of Ocumare de la Costa, Chuao and Turiamo also celebrate spectacularly.


Venezuelans are mad about traveling to visit friends and family over Christmas, Carnival (several days prior to Ash Wednesday) and Semana Santa (Holy Week; the week before Easter Sunday). In these three periods, you'll have to plan ahead and do a little more legwork before you find a place to stay if you, like many Venezuelans, are headed to the coast. 
"Carnival has lost its importance in the major cities, and is taken more seriously in the coastal towns
Traditional Venezuelan festivals at

Last Update: NOV2006 || Main Page: