Isle of Wight Mardi Gras – You’ll fall in Love

Isle of Wight Mardi Gras has something different and attractive that you only can experience by visiting this magical Island.

Saturday, 27th June 2020

Days to start

What is the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras?

isle of wight mardi gras

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras is an annual carnival celebration that is held in Ryde, UK every last Saturday in June. The carnival was inspired by New Orleans Mardi Gras with a little fusion from Latin and Caribbean carnivals.

What is Mardi Gras? Well Mardi Gras actually means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, which is the day before Ash Wednesday, the official start of Lent. Around the world there has been a tradition of feasting and celebration known as Mardi Gras or Carnival that is associated with the Catholic tradition of Lent.

Whilst this Mardi Gras celebration is not associated with Lent, it still embodies the spirit of carnival! Isle of Wight Mardi Gras is one of the biggest events of the year on the island. It is all about uniting the community and putting on an event that everyone can enjoy and create memories that you can hold on it.

When is the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras?

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras will be held on Saturday 27th June, 2020.

Where is the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras?

isle of wight carnival

The Isle of Wight is an island that sits off the southern coast of England. The 2020 Isle of Wight Mardi Gras takes place in Ryde, Town Centre and Esplanade. Ryde is a seaside town and civil parish that is located on the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight.

How do they celebrate the Isle of Wight Mardi Gras?

isle of wight mardi gras

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras is of course all about community! They have a jam packed program to suit everyone’s taste! It is celebrated with lots of dance, music, good food and drink, shows, entertainment, games and activities. Of course the highlight of the Mardi Gras celebration is the parade which is a spectacular event to see.

Isle of Wight Mardi Gras 2020 Theme – The Story of Carnival

isle of wight carnival

The theme “Story of Carnival”, starts with the springtime rituals of ancient Egypt and will travel through Rome and Greece as it is transformed into a decadent pre-Lenten celebration by the Church in Europe. Looking across the Atlantic, Columbus and the early colonists, enriched carnival by adding their own African, Indigenous and Indian cultural traditions to European carnival celebrations. 

To learn more about the origins and history of carnival, read our article “The Origins and History of Carnival – The World’s Oldest Party!”

Isle of Wight Mardi Gras Parade

isle of wight carnival

  • Date: Saturday 27th June, 2020
  • Time: 1.30pm – 5:00 approx.
  • Parade begins: @ Ryde School Playing Fields, Queens Road
  • Route: Queens Road – Newport Street – High Street – Union Street – Esplanade
  • Parade ends: @ Eastern Esplanade gardens

The Isle of Wight Mardi Gras Parade will use the inspiration from the Island’s USPs and the special characteristics that were outlined in the documented that was submitted to UNESCO. The document has ten headings which are Geology, Landscape, Wildlife, Historic Environment, Culture, Dark Skies, Woodlands and Forests, Tourism and Recreation and Food and Farming.

These overarching themes will be developed and portrayed on the streets during Mardi Gras. Learning and researching about the theme will underpin the design of all the various costume sections that is contributed by the young people of the area and made in creative workshops run by parents, teachers and volunteers.

About 30 schools and community organisations, along with samba bands and some visiting carnival groups take part in the parade. A record number of groups are taking part this year and over 1000 costumes are being created for the parade. The parade will feature around 800 children and young people in gorgeous carnival costumes, performing some impressive choreography.

How to get to the Isle of Wight Birmingham?

isle of wight mardi gras

There is no commercial airport on the Isle of Wight but visitors from far away can fly to Londons airports and drive, bus or train to the area. Wightlink has two car ferry services to the Isle of Wight, one from Fishbourne and another from Portsmouth with both journeys taking around 40 minutes. To get a quote for a flight click here.

Where to stay in Isle of Wight?

isle of wight carnival

There are so many accommodation options in Isle of Wight, it really just depends on what your budget is and the level of comfort you are after. Additionally, while the Isle of Wight isn’t large there are many different villages and towns that each have their own unique feel and vibe.

If you want to stay close to the carnival then book your accommodation in Ryde which is where the Mardi Gras celebrations take place. Ryde and nearby town Newport are the most populated towns on the island with supermarkets, cinemas, beaches and many seafront attractions.

On the south-east coastline of the Isle of Wight are the towns of Sandown or Shanklin. This is another busy area filled with hotels, sandy beaches and clean oceans. East Wight is a bit out of the way, but is home to some amazing seafront properties here you can stay at Bembridge, Seaview and St. Helens.

The South Wight is home to the towns Ventnor, Bonchurch, St Lawrence, Blackgang and Niton which has a number of posh hotels and restaurants. West Wight is the least developed part of the island but has an abundance of greenery, eroding cliffs and charming villages. If you are after a quieter place to stay then check out Freshwater, Totland, Colwell, Brighstone and Yarmouth.

Check out some accommodation deals here. 

What to do and see in Isle of Wight?

isle of wight mardi gras

The Isle of Wight is an incredible place to visit! It has an abundance of natural beauty, tranquillity, greenery, sandy beaches, pristine ocean and panoramic views of remote counties. You can enjoy water sports or take some incredible hikes. There are also great pubs, shops and restaurants.

The Isle of Wight also has a rich history! You can visit Carisbrooke Castle, which was where King Charles was locked up prior to his execution. Also Osborne House which was beloved by Queen Victoria.

For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here. For a longer tour check out some of the coolest trips on Tour Radar. 

Before you go!
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance! Never travel without coverage! Being protected on your travels gives you an irreplaceable peace of mind. Don’t learn the hard way about the importance of travel insurance. Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads!

What is the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana?

festival of the virgin of la tirana

Fiesta de la Tirana is an annual celebration that takes place in La Tirana, which is located in the Tarapaca Region of northern Chile. This celebration occurs to honor the Virgen del Carmen. This celebration is the biggest localized religious event in Chile and attracts around 250,000 visitors to this tiny village of 1500 inhabitants.

The visitors come to dance, hear music, pray and pay homage to the Virgen del Carmen, who is the national patron saint of Chile. Over 207 religious brotherhoods from Arica to Copiapó,  participate in this event. This is a beautiful celebration that attracts visitors from not just all over Chile, but from all over the world!

Because this celebration is so large, and the town only has 1500 inhabitants, during the celebration, community-based systems of commerce, housing and healthcare are put in place. Law enforcement is brought in from surrounding areas. Furthermore there is a mandatory dry law on during the celebration, with alcohol checkpoints at every entrance, to avoid public drunkenness.

When is the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana?

The celebration begins on July 10th at 10pm and finishes on July 19th. There are 10 days of celebration. The dance celebrations are organised around the feast day of the Virgen del Carmen,

Where is the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana?

The celebration takes place in La Tirana, Chile. La Tirana is located in the Tarapaca Region in Northern Chile, and is about 45 miles from Iquique, a coastal town on the pacific.

What is the history of Fiesta de La Tirana?

festival of the virgin of la tirana

The story about the origin of The Festival of La Tirana dates back to 1540, when an expedition led by the discoverer of Chile – Diego de Almagro, arrived in the area. It was there that they met an Incaican Princess named Huillac Humu, who due to her hostile attitude towards the Spaniards was known as La Tirana or the tyrant in English

But La Tirana ended up falling in love with one of her Spanish captives named Almeyda. She was so in love with him that she even wanted to marry him and become a Christian. Her community was so outraged that they killed both the princess and her lover.

Around 1650 Antonio Rondon built a hermitage next to the cross of her grave. In the 18th century a little town and church was created in that location. Today there is a Museum – Museo de La Tirana located in front of the church. The lovers remain buried in the place where the festival is celebrated.

While today La Tirana Festival is a celebration that is done in the name of the Virgen del Carmen, it still has many traditions that stretch back centuries to the indigenous Andean people. The masks, costumes, music and dance all have historical significance. Descendants of these indigenous persons still travel to the festival to make promises to the saint and to receive blessings.

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How do they celebrate La Tirana Festival?

festival of the virgin of la tirana

La Tirana Festival is celebrated with lots of religious ceremonies, local instrumental music performances, dance performances and parades. The celebrators dress in colorful traditional clothing and the events are an incredible combination of European, Mestizos, Creoles and Indian culture.

The festival has about 250,000 visitors who come to make offerings, promises, give thanks and pray to the Virgen del Carmen and receive blessings. She is the protector of Chile and believed to be the guardian of the armed forces, navy and police. Believers make their promise to her and are obliged to complete their promises.

Dancing for the Virgin

festival of the virgin of la tirana

Dancing plays a major role in the celebration of Fiesta de La Tirana. Dance groups known as bailes come to dance before the Virgen del Carmen, who is located in the sanctuary at La Tirana. Dancing before the Virgin is a very emotional experience. There are about 200 official dance groups from all over the country, who come to announce they have returned to fulfil their promise to her.

With so many dance groups, the performances run for days, and are scheduled around the clock. Every different dance group is assigned a specific entry time to see the Virgin, and they have 20 minutes to dance before her. The temple doors officially open on July 10th, and the bailes and pilgrims dance before the Virgin from July 11th until Jul 14th.

But before visiting her they must first dance at the plaza located at the entrance to the town, then in front of the statue of Cruz del Calvario (Calvary Cross), where a priest formally welcomes them and blesses the group. It is a sensory mosaic filled with lots of color, sound, energy and movement. The atmosphere and energy is electric and the central plaza is filled with thousands of dancers.

The dancers are dressed in the most beautiful costumes with lots of glitter and color. They enter the temple accompanied by their band and banner. Romantic melodies of vintage ballads, boleros and waltzes fill the air and where the songs of one dance group ends, another begins. The dancers offer their blood, sweat and tears to the Virgin.

Dancing for the Devil

festival of the virgin of la tirana

One of the most important parts of the festival is the Danza de los Diablos, which in English means the Dance of the Devils. This was brought to Chile by Bolivian salt miners.

Throughout the festival you will see many people wearing fearsome costumes and masks, which are done to chase the demons away. The demon masks have bulging eyes, curling horns and bright colours.

The Feast Day of Virgen Del Carmen

festival of the virgin of la tirana

You could say that the eve and feast day of the Virgen del Carmen, is like New Year’s. The eve of the feast is a special time. In the morning, the bishop celebrates Mass for the representatives of he armed forces. By 9pm at night, the square has filled up with large crowds who eagerly await midnight and the official start of the feast of the Virgen del Carmen.

At midnight the celebrations begin with people waving balloons and lights, orange lanterns float into the sky, the band plays music and firework displays surround the city. The dance groups take turn dancing and singing, and everywhere you look people are socializing and in good spirits. People stay up all night and dance groups continue performing in the square well after sunrise.

At 9am a major event takes place in the square. The statue of the Virgin, a smaller one from the temple, is lowered into the square. Hundreds of colored ribbons are attached to the base of her pedestal which are thrown to the audience, who hold them and sing while she is lowered. This is then followed by Mass.

At 2:30pm, a procession of the image of the Virgin parades its way through the streets, followed by statues of St Joseph who is her husband, and of Jesus. At each block, dance groups have the opportunity to sing to the Virgin, walking backwards, in front of her, so that they don’t turn their back to her.

Big crowds line the streets and follow the procession throwing confetti and shouting “Viva La Virgen”. The procession goes on for about seven hours, before it returns back to the temple. Inside the sanctuary some associations have been given the honor to sing before the larger statue of the Virgin.

Saying goodbye to the Virgin

festival of the virgin of la tirana

While the dance groups don’t leave La Tirana until July 19th, the farewell song and dance to the Virgin, begins midnight after the 16th July. The goodbye dances can be even more emotional than the entrance dances, you will often see dancers crying. They are done in the same order as the entry dance and continue for 24 hours a day until the 19th July, except during Mass.

One week after the groups have departed La Tirana, they gather together in their home cities for a fiesta chica. This is a follow-up dance to La Tirana. Its purpose is to bring the devotion and joy of La Tirana, back to their own streets.

How to get to La Tirana?

The majority of people will travel to La Tirana from the coastal city of Iquique which is about 45 miles from La Tirana. You can fly to Iquique from Santiago in about 2.5 hours, and then take a taxi to La Tirana, which will take around 40 minutes. You can also reach La Tirana by road from the northern cities of Calama, Arica and Antofagasta.

Accommodation for the Festival of La Tirana

It is super important that you book your accommodation well in advance because there are limited hotels. There are also some private accommodation rental options and many locals will open their houses for the celebration. A lot of temporary housing is installed during the celebration for many of the dance groups.

Check out some accommodation options here.

For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.

Before you go!
We can’t stress the enough the importance of travel insurance being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. Don’t learn the hard way about the importance of travel insurance. Never travel without coverage.
Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads.

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