Best time to go to Bolivia

Tinku Festival 2025

When Bolivians let their anger out, even the police are powerless and violent street fights break out

Dates: early May

Tinku Festival
Tinku Festival

In the first weeks of May the usually peaceful Bolivian Andes seem to go mad: without any sound basis, the indigenous Aymara and Quechua leave their work to engage in frantic street fights that highlight the tinku festivals.

The origin of this phenomenon stems from the Potosi region, and dates back to the Spanish conquest when the indigenous population of Potosi met the uninvited guests with fists and stones and hence comes the name "tinku" meaning " the violent encounter." This ritual-like combat is particularly vivid in the town of Macha. Besides, it is reenacted during the Festival de la Cruz, featuring around 3,000 brave participants, typically wearing splendid colourful costumes and leather helmet-like hats to prevent fatal outcomes.

However, injuries still do occur despite all the rules, precautions, and the presence of police and authorities​. The action begins with men and women dancing to warlike motifs, and gradually me​n become encircled by women, and that is where tinku begins. Supposedly nowadays violent street fighting helps hard-working people to unwind and truly let all their anger out once a year, and participation in the "tinku" ritual is considered a sign of true bravery. These street wars break out suddenly, and likewise quickly wind down.

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