Tens of thousands of people take part in the 50+ dance groups that perform during Carnival in Oruro, Bolivia (aka Carnaval de Oruro). The event, which has been designated a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, requires a lot of behind-the-scenes support. Here’s our look behind the scenes at Carnaval de Oruro including costume makers, makeup artists, and more.

Overview of the parade route carnaval de Oruro

It’s an honor to take part in Carnival in Oruro and participants invest many months to learn choreography and many hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to purchase elaborate costumes like these.

Preparing the parade route carnaval de Oruro

Even the parade route gets dressed up for Carnival in Oruro, Bolivia.

Oruro Carnival costume shops

Carnival costume and mask shops are open year-round in Oruro. During Carnival, additional stands pop up selling last minute items that complete the costumes.

Carnaval de Oruro Costume Shops

Shops selling costumes and masks for Carnival tend to specialize in specific costumes for specific dances. The shops pictured above sell items worn by Diablada and Morenada dancers.

Costume making for Oruro arnival Diablada

Oruro is famous for its costume and mask makers, many of them skilled in handmade craft traditions.

Morenada glove carnaval de Oruro

This street vendor is selling gloves made specifically for each of the different groups of Morenada dancers.

Oruro carnival costume decorations

Sparkly bric-a-brac of all sorts used to customize and personalize Carnival costumes.

matraca morenada quirquincho armadillo

Some conservationists estimate that 2,000 hairy armadillos (the symbol of Oruro) are killed each year to be stuffed or turned into Carnival rattles called matracas. This has lead to concerns about the future of this species.

Oruro Carnival behind the scenes

Participants gather in a kind of outdoor green room offering food, alcohol, hair stylists, makeup artists, and other services to participants before they hit the Carnival parade route.

Hair stylist and mackup Oruro carnival

A woman gets her hair and makeup done before Carnival in Oruro, Bolivia.

Morenada dressing

Our friend Saul getting ready to dance with the Morenada Central Comunidad Cocani Carnival fraternity with the help of his brother Diego.

Tinku hat detail Carnaval de Oruro

Every inch of every costume, like these Tinku hats, must be colorful and festive for Carnival.

Silver Carnaval de Oruro

Oruro is a silver mining town and silver objects are displayed as part of Carnival celebrations.

Oruro Carnival silver display

On Monday morning, various Carnival dance groups display family heirloom silver in front of the church.


Enjoy more spectacle and tradition in our photo-and-video-filled post from the heart of Carnaval de Oruro.


Here’s more about travel in Bolivia

Here’s more about Festivals & Celebrations in the Americas

See all of our Photo Essays


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