Globos de Cantoya National Contest in Paracho

By Liliana Elena Gonzalez


Globo de Cantoya is a big balloon made out of thousands of china paper sheets (from 4 to 2000+) impelled to the sky by a hot device. They are made in different shapes and sizes, picturing animals, persons, geometrical figures, you name it.


The contest will be held in Paracho Michoacan with more than 60 participants from several states within Mexico and Brazil as the special International participant invited. The event will take place next weekend, July 25th and 26th, 2009 in the Casa de la Cultura Uantaperakua located in the main plaza.

Paracho is a small town in the mountains of Michoacan, located west of Morelia (1.5 hour driving) and Patzcuaro(about 40 minutes driving). It has a population around 16,500 and it is also known as the Guitar capital of the World, because more than half of their population is devoted to produce  guitars and mandolins.

Brazilians have a lot of experience in building cantoya balloons. They don´t know exactly the origins of these artisan heritage, they believe it was start in honor of San Juan during the Fiestas Juninas in June and July in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. They recall las Turmas (balloon makers´team) built Globos de Cantoya up to 70 meters tall and some of them with fire works to blow up in the sky. Read more about it at La Jornada Michoacana.

There will be an infantile category for children up to 12 years old withits own rules and rewards. Their balloons will be built inside Casa de la Cultura between 10 am and 3 pm in the event day. They will work in teams of 3 to 5 children using 40 to 50 sheets of paper and registering a name for their project. Their balloons will be impelled the same day at 5 PM.

The open category is divided in 3 categories according to the number of sheets used to build the balloon:

Category A = 50 to 150 sheets of china paper (winner´s award $5,000.00 pesos)

Category B = 151 to 350 sheets of china paper (winner´s award $7,000.00 pesos)

Category C = 351 to unlimited sheets of china paper (winner´s award $10,000.00 pesos)

Creativity will be also rewarded.

The whole event will have conferences, workshops (yes, you can learn how to build them!), seminars and exhibitions of Globos de Cantoya. Purepecha music and dances and a special exhibition of uarukua play ball. There is an official website for this event in Spanish.

As per the origin of this tradition in Mexico, it is attributed to Joaquín de la Cantoya y Rico (named after him) who lived in Guanajuato in the past century. He built a 10 meter tall balloon with a basket at bottom to allow a person to travel. He was asked to go to every festivity around and perform the “elevation and travel” in his balloon.

There is a wikipedia entry calling Uriangato in Guanajuato as the place where the tradition of “globos de Cantoya” began in 1928, when the first “globo” was sent to the sky on San Miguel Arcángel holidays.

One of the sponsor Human Heritage is offering a tour departing from Mexico City to attend the whole event.

3 Responses to Globos de Cantoya National Contest in Paracho

  1. Thanks for posting about this, I would love to read more about this topic.

  2. MarkSpizer says:

    great post as usual!

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