Folklorica in Sucre

Yesterday was such a “Bolivian” day here in Sucre: great fun, happy people, yet oh so not organized. The event was the 10th Folklorica event named after the Juana Azurduy de Padilla University: “Respirando 10 Años de Libertad”, or Breathing 10 years of Liberty. This is a big event: 30+ teams of Folklorica, roughly translated as folk-dancing, where the teams could number up in the hundreds. The teams dance / parade along a lengthy route, with spectators galore, until they finally reach the main plaza where bleachers have been constructed for the spectators, and where the judges are located.


In true Bolivian style, it is very difficult to find out anything ahead of time: when does it start? where is the route? can we get tickets for the bleachers? etc? We had heard through the grapevine that it was important to buy tickets, and if we bought tickets after 9.00 am, they would be sold out. So, early in the morning, down to the main plaza we went. Finally, by 10.30, the ticket sellers were organized enough to where we could purchase the tickets.

Then, of course, we were curious as to what we had actually bought tickets for, and when the event would start. Sorting through the different answers we got – from the event organizers, the police who were standing close by, and other ticket buyers – we understood that the parade was to start at 11.00 am, and it would likely take three to four hours before it reached the main plaza, and the bleachers where we had purchased tickets. Excellent, this meant we would have time to catch the Holland – Denmark football game with our friends, Azaria and Marika, from Holland.

The Dutch crowd at the Dutch-owned bar Florin, re-named the Holland House for the Euro-cup, watching the game. Holland lost…

At around 14.oo, we headed back down to the Plaza as this was the earliest we had been told to expect any Folklorica teams. Asking around again, we quickly determined that 16,oo, or maybe 17.oo was a more likely time for the first teams to show up – they had barely left the starting point at 14.oo. They were supposed to leave at 11.00…

Ok, not so bad, we now had time to watch the Germany – Portugal game as well. And lo and behold, by 17.oo the first team made an appearance.

Each team is associated with a University. This one is associated with a vet school. Probably cheaper than maintaining an American Football team.

Each team also either had a marching band, or a truck with a bitchin’ sound system.

Beautifully dressed, and dancing the whole time.

To try and impress the judges, some of the teams incorporated kids. Crafty move, as Bolivian kids are, by far, the cutest kids anywhere.

Do they get much cuter?

Actually, they do…

But, after about 5 teams, out of 32, the parade stopped. Asking around, we were told that this was normal: the best teams waited for evening / night time to ensure that the crowds were in place, and so their fire-works could be seen.

No big deal, we went and had some dinner. Then back to the bleachers by 18.30 or so. Now the parade was starting to liven up, the bleachers were full, the spectators were having a great time, as were the dancers.

Night time action pictures.

The dancers were working hard.

By the time they got to the square, some of them had been going for 5 hours.

But most of them were still full of energy.

And then the fireworks started coming out.

Fireworks in the streets.

One poor street dog was going crazy trying to chase the fireworks…

We lasted until about 21.oo; it had been a long day. As we were walking home to our hostel, we met the family who owns it. They were just walking down to the square to partake of the parade. Which, btw, went on until about 1.30 in the morning…

The next day, the local paper,, had an article on the folkfest. While some people were irritated at the major delays of the parade, others suggested that the delays were more in line with a real folk festival, where “everyone feels at ease…”. Gotta love Bolivia.


4 thoughts on “Folklorica in Sucre

    • Rex, in the three weeks we have been here, we’ve had: an auto racing thru the streets folkfest; President Morales watched a 4 hours parade folkfest; and the folklorica folkfest. I’d say Pamplona is way behind…


  1. Hey guys! It sounds like the adventure continues! It is so wonderful to follow folks who really “get” the Bolivian way. Our first experience of a similar parade event in Tarija was having purchased numbered seats on the parade route for a folkloric university presentation, only to have to wait for THREE HOURS for the thing to start. (We had been told to arrive early because of the the pressure of the anticipated crowd.) There is some mysterious clock at work that we still don’t have a handle on. The Bolivians never seem to get impatient, upset or even distressed about the timing of their events. You just have to go with the flow. So good to know you, and so nice to follow your footsteps. Love from us in Tarija!

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