CALL US AT: 1-800-999-1758 OR
M-F 7AM - 5PM PST | 10AM - 8PM EST
Select your Home Country USA USA Flag
Travel Stories Blog

Festival Time in Latin America: The Fiesta of San Miguel, Bolivia

Posted September 27, 2017

A luxury trip to Bolivia will expose you to the historical, culinary, and artistic culture this country represents. From the dramatic landscapes in the central region of the country to the exciting cultural and historical experiences awaiting you and your fellow travelers in Lap Paz, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosi and other vibrant cities, Bolivia is full of unforgettable opportunities to explore and learn. The people of Bolivia are warm, inviting, and loving and you'll discover a terrific opportunity to witness this spirit of the Bolivian people during a major festival held each year - the Fiesta of San Miguel. This celebration offers Bolivians the opportunity to showcase their cultural vibrancy and commemorate the patron saint of the normally quiet town of Uncia - located in the Potosi district.

  • Where exactly is it located? The town of Uncia is a full day's drive from the City of La Paz, in the moderately affluent Potosi Region.
  • When does it take place? The event lights up the normally quiet town of Uncia for up to two weeks at the end of each September - Latin American festivals of up to two weeks aren't out of the ordinary.
  • What does it celebrate? The festival celebrates the town patron - San Miguel, a fire-breathing resident of Uncia who would spew flames at any devilish soul trying to invade or attack the town.
  • What can I expect to see? Visit during this time and see the main attractions of this San Miguel festival, including:


Dancers in traditional costume perform the Tinku dance

The Tinku dance represents a lyrical and visual way to retell stories about the battle between good and evil. Tinku dancing involves an ancient, ritualized series of combat movements performed by dancers dressed as Conquistadors. Those involved swing their arms wildly and throw punches, while a "referee" stands by to ensure the ritual doesn't get out of hand.

You might be asking yourself - "why do they need a referee?" In actuality, the Tinku dance is an emotional performance and some of the staged combats have resulted in injuries and even a couple of deaths. Local lore states that blood spilled during the dance routines indicates a good harvest for the year and a bountiful crop. Ancient Indian cultural beliefs correlate a good Tinku dance with reverence for Mother Earth.


Tucumanas for sale on the street in Bolivia

No Latin American festival would be complete without the food and the culinary offerings available during the Fiesta of San Miguel, offering a feast that is nothing short of amazing. Savory Papas Rellenas (stuffed potatoes), Pique A Lo Macho (a massive pile of sausage, beef, onions, tomatoes boiled egg and French fries, covered with traditional hamburger condiments), Tucumanas (a filled, savory pastry that can be found stuffed with meat, vegetables, eggs and more), and dozens of other Bolivian dishes are among the festivity's feast. If nothing else, this fiesta offers the budding culinary adventurer access to a diverse array of incredible Bolivian foods to sample.


Traditional Bolivian procession on the Island of the Sun

This country knows how to put on a good party and the parades and processions of the Fiesta of San Miguel do not disappoint. Colorful, brilliant and energetic, these parades feature non-stop music of all types, brass bands, fireworks, adult beverages aplenty, and more. Get a taste for the Bolivian spirit, including incredible examples of local fashion and style, by visiting this region soon.


The Festival of San Miguel is one compelling reason to visit the interior of Bolivia. It is in this region that you'll find the Colonial side of the country, with world-class sights in a high-altitude setting - from the heights of Potosi to the tropical forests of Santa Cruz, Bolivia is an incredible destination for anyone seeking an authentic and unforgettable adventure. For more information on travel to Bolivia, contact Ignacio, our Destination Manager for Latin America.