June 21 has long been a special time for the Aymara people of Bolivia, who make up some 20 percent of the nation’s population. It is the date of the winter solstice and the longest night of the year in the Southern Hemisphere and of ritual importance to the Aymara.
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But it was only in 2010 that 21 June became a public holiday called “Aymara New Year.” Schools, government buildings, and private businesses now close down to observe the holiday.
In the Aymara region of western Bolivia, near Lake Titicaca, there are intriguing events to attend. You can see sun rise at the ruins of Tiwanaku, along with throngs of tourists, and learn how the winter solstice was important to ancient Aymara farmers.
Also be sure to appreciate and explore the amazing topography of the Aymara homeland, from steep, snow-capped Andean peaks to the shores of Lake Titicaca, one of the most elevated freshwater lakes in the world.