Spanish Language Blog

Carnival in Latin America Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Spanish Culture, Videos

These days we are enjoying the Carnival (Carnaval, en español) season all over the world, mainly in countries that follow the Christian tradition. Carnival comes 40 days before Easter (Pascua)and takes place during the three days before Ash Wednesday (Miércoles de ceniza). More or less all countries respect the calendar, but traditions and celebrations are very different across the globe. Let’s have a look.



Carnival in Bolivia reveals a syncretism between Pagan and Christian beliefs. Colorful costumes, folklore music and dances and parades are not as seen as, for example, those from Brazil. However, Carnival is a very important tradition in Bolivia including Diabladas, a procession of devils (diablos)that honour Mother Earth and bring prosperity to the community.





Colombia celebrates Carnaval de blancos y negros (Black and White Carnival) at least a month before the rest of the world. This celebration is from pre-Columbian times, and it was forbidden during the time of the colony. This is an Andean indigenous tradition. The mixture with Spanish and African elements of celebration created this festivity, that has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Humanity by the UNESCO.



Video by Sightseer.TV – Buenos Aires

Renowned is also the Montevideo Carnival, which is the longest Carnival in the world (it lasts 40 days). 
This carnival has two main aspects, which are not antagonistic but complementary: las murgas or street choirs, of Spanish origin, whose lyrics are rich in humor and social and political satire and played an important socio-cultural role during the dictatorship (1973-1984), and candombe, of black African origin, which recreates the African origins of the slaves during the colonial era, with its costumes, songs and dances, cultures and religions.

This is a video of the song “Una canción a Montevideo”, written and interpreted by Mauricio Ubal, which combines both murgas and candombe. We hope you enjoy it and maybe celebrate a bit differently this year! ¡Feliz carnaval!

Video by Héctor Tierno

Una canción a Montevideo
Con su voz marinera encantada,
viene un viento inventor de avenidas.
Viene un cerro patrón de miradas,
que va hundiéndose allí en la bahía.
Vienen / sueños,
vienen / pueblos …

Con su voz de boliches y grillos,
vienen soles de ropa tendida.
Ciudadela de muros heridos,
preguntando qué fue de la vida.
Vienen / cielos,
vienen / fuegos …

Viene amar,
viene amar,
viene amar a este Montevideo.

Vienen los sombreros / llenos de tranvías,
vienen los tambores / llenos de glicinas.

Vienen las sirenas / la radio prendida
y en medio del temporal …
viene un tango en un estuche de malvón
a llorar porque ha perdido una ciudad

Viene amar,
viene amar,
viene amar a este Montevideo.

Vienen navidades / gorriones antiguos,
cantores de carnaval …

Esos techos de rambla infinita,
esas voces con techos de nada.
Todo viene a esta mansa bahía,
mar de fondo de nuestras palabras.

Viene, / duele,
cae en la hondura …
de cada soledad.

Viene amar, viene amar,
viene amar a este Montevideo.

Viene mar, viene amar
viene mar de este Montevideo.

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About the Author: Paula

Born in Buenos Aires, living in Barcelona, I mostly write about cultural topics in Spanish from Spain and Latin America.


  1. Molly Calo:

    ¡Carnival es muy interesante! Me gusta los calores vivos y bailares. En América no tengo canival. ¡Carnaval es muy vivo y guapo!