Bolivia Holidays: Urkupiña in Quillacollo

by Bernard Goyette
(Québec, Canada)

An unmistakable sense of Bolivian elegance. © Bernard Goyette

An unmistakable sense of Bolivian elegance. © Bernard Goyette

An unmistakable sense of Bolivian elegance. © Bernard Goyette Not everyone needs to be happy. © Bernard Goyette With friend from Cochabamba.- © Bernard Goyette Other friend from L Paz.  © Bernard Goyette

From 8 AM to 2 Am non stop, this is the most intense entertaining day I ever had.

I am told only the march festival in Potosi(?) would be bigger.
Something to remember.


Qillacollo (Department of Cochabamba) is a city located some 13 km (8 miles) from the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

See it on Google Earth.

Every year in August - 14th, 15th and 16th - Quillacollo celebrates the Urkupiña festivity, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Urkupiña (Virgen Maria de Urkupiña).

According to legend, somewhere around the middle of XVIII the virgin of Urkupiña appeared to a shepherd girl for the first time at Cerro Calvario (Calvary Hill), just outside Quillacollo.

A pilgrimage to the hill is precisely the highlight of this massively popular celebration that begins with the "Entrada", a sixteen-hour parade with incredible costumes and typical dances such as Diablada.

From early morning until late at night dozens of dance and music groups parade the streets of Quillacollo in an amazing display of colour, festivity and faith, evidencing Bolivia's strong religious believes and traditions.

Worshippers would pay their respects to the Virgin as well as Pachamama (Mother Earth)asking for favours and thanking for the ones provided the year before.

The Urkupiña celebration represent another example of religious syncretism of the Catholic rite and pagan deities very much alive in the indigenous communities of the Andes still today.

It's considered to be one of the biggest religious (and popular) celebrations of its kind in South America, attracting hundred of thousands of followers as well as international tourism.

Read more about Virgin of Urkupiña here (website in Spanish).

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