Oaxaca Zapotec Candle Making Experience – Private Tour

We believe one of the best ways to connect with a culture is through its arts.

Take a deep dive into Oaxacan culture with us, where tradition and artistry unite in the “Land of the Gods.” We will take you to the pueblo of Teotitlán del Valle, celebrated for its rich Zapotec heritage. Here, you’ll explore the centuries-old Zapotec wedding tradition, “La Pedida de Mano,” where scaly candles, fruits, flowers, and age-old customs take center stage.

At “San Pascual Velas,” you’ll discover the craft of traditional candle making, unveiling the artistry behind “cera escamada” and “velas de concha.” Witness live candle-making demonstrations and try your hand at creating these symbolic candles. By creating your candle in our workshop, you will uncover the heart of these time-honored creations that symbolize life’s stages from birth to death. Join us on this genuine journey into Oaxaca’s cultural heritage, where you’ll forge lasting memories and a profound connection to the enduring spirit of Oaxacan culture. Secure your spot today for an unforgettable experience!

 

All bookings are private, so booking with friends works out more cost-effectively, as you share some expenses (such as guide, transport, etc). Discounts are auto-magically applied when you make your reservation.

Are you planning to be here for the Day Of The Dead? You may also be interested in our in-depth, interactive experience taking you deep into the culture, traditions and practices of the Day Of The Dead in Oaxaca:
Book Your Oaxaca Day Of The Dead Experience here!

Make a Deposit to confirm today!
All booking deposits are in USD and must be made in advance so that we can prepare this experience for you. Your initial deposit covers some expenses payable in advance of your tours, such as your guide fees and other inclusions. Need to reschedule the date? With 2+ weeks’ notice, you may be able to without any rebooking fees! See Cancellations & Rebooking terms at the bottom of the page.

This tour requires a Local Payment in MXN
The Local Payment is a portion of your overall tour cost paid in Mexican Pesos on the morning of tour departure. It includes “on tour” expenses that cannot ordinarily be pre-paid such as money that goes directly to the host families, and meals. It is an additional cost to the price of your tour when you make your deposit.

The Local Payment for this experience is 700 Mexican pesos per person (approximately $35 USD).

Description

Oaxaca Artisanal Candle Making Experience

Discover the Heart of a Unique Zapotec Tradition

 

Item Details
Meeting Point Your centrally located Oaxaca City hotel (you tell us your hotel after you reserve)
End Point Your centrally located Oaxaca City hotel
Duration Up to 6 hours (+/-)
Physical Level Low – this experience involves moderate walking through small towns
Cultural Rating High – a good balance of cultural interactions, and engaging with local artisans
Ages 12+ (under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian/parent)
Group Size Private – Max 6 people per booking

Itinerary for learning about Oaxaca Candle Making

Welcome to an extraordinary journey that will immerse you in the heart of Oaxacan culture, where ancient traditions and artistic craftsmanship come together to create an unforgettable experience in the “Land of the Gods.”

Our adventure begins as we pick you up from your hotel at 9:00 AM, setting the stage for a day filled with cultural exploration. Our destination: Teotitlán del Valle, a charming village located amidst breathtaking landscapes of the Valle de Oaxaca and known for its rich Zapotec heritage. Here, we will uncover the fascinating tradition of “La Pedida de Mano,” a Zapotec wedding ritual where the groom’s family seeks the bride’s hand in marriage. In this ceremony, offerings of fruits, flowers, bread, and the iconic “velas de concha” (scaly candles) play a pivotal role.

Arriving at “San Pascual Velas,” we will step into the fascinating world of traditional candle making. Known as “cera escamada” in Oaxaca City and “velas de concha” in Teotitlán del Valle, the craft behind these candles has been passed down through generations. Here, you’ll witness a live demonstration of candle making, and you’ll even have the chance to try crafting these exquisite candles yourself. This immersive workshop will reveal the age-old secrets behind this centuries-old art form. Here, you’ll explore the intricate techniques behind creating candles that symbolize the stages of life, from birth to death.

In the afternoon, we’ll gather for a 1.5-hour feast with the artisans themselves. It’s a unique opportunity to savor the flavors of Oaxacan cuisine while engaging in rich conversation as you connect with those who carry on these ancient traditions. Our journey continues with a 30-minute visit to Casa Viviana, where you’ll gain more insights into the significance of these local customs from the perspective of an esteemed local matriarch we’ll speak to. We’ll finally return to Oaxaca City, a 45-60 minute drive, and arrive by 4:00 PM. You will gain a heart full of cherished memories and a newfound appreciation for the beauty of Zapotec tradition.

Join us on this extraordinary journey into the heart of Oaxaca’s cultural heritage, where candles are more than just wax and wick; they are symbols of love, tradition, and the enduring spirit of the “Land of the Gods.” Reserve your spot today to be part of this enchanting experience that will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper connection to Oaxacan culture.

Please note: There is not a Dress Code! You will be visiting some food vendors who are a bit more traditional, so dressing respectfully is appreciated. You don’t need to dress to impress – you will be getting your hands dirty (literally). It is recommended to just bring modest, comfortable clothes, and that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty in. A more detailed list of suggested clothing attire can be found below.

What to bring to the Oaxaca Artisanal Candle Making Experience?

Though this could vary seasonally, this is the basic list of what we suggest you bring with you. Keep in mind that your transport is private and secure, so you can leave some items in the vehicle when not needed:
– Jeans or long pants (this is most customary in Mexico, though shorts/dress are fine if you are most comfortable in that).
– Sneakers/comfortable shoes.
– Umbrella (for the rainy season, May-November)
– Sunblock.
– Hat/cap
– Cash. The producers do not accept credit cards if you want to buy anything after your experience. There is no pressure to buy anything. Unlike other tour companies, the producers we work with will always get paid fairly for their time, regardless if you buy some of their crafts or not.

What is included with the Oaxaca Artisanal Candle-Making Experience?

Your ancestral experience includes:
– information provided before your experience to educate you and properly prepare you
– a specially trained and licensed English-speaking guide who will facilitate your experience
– translations and demonstrations with the local food vendors
– meals (alcoholic beverages are not included with the meals)
– a special small gift to take home with you

What is not included when on your Oaxaca Artisanal Candle Making Experience?

Travel Insurance (Compulsory)
– International flights
– Transportation (outside of the transport included in the itinerary)
– Accommodation in Oaxaca
– Alcoholic beverages
– Gratuities and tips
– Spending money if you wish to purchase additional food, souvenirs, or items.

Supporting Local Projects with our TRiP Foundation

For every TRiP that you go on with WSE Travel, we will donate 2% to an environmental or community-based project in the country you’re visiting. We want to ensure that every guest we help, in turn, supports and preserves the destination we’re experiencing together as a direct result. We live by an ethos of Travel Responsibly & Impact Positively (TRIP).

For more information on the projects this experience supports, please visit our Mexico TRIP projects.

Cancellations & Rebooking

All tours, services, and experiences booked through WSE Travel are bound to our Terms and Conditions, which were modeled after most other travel services such as flights, hotels, and other tour operators.

Should you need to cancel or change your reservation for any reason (including but not limited to missed flights, illness, or change of mind), you will still be bound to the terms and conditions agreed to at the time of booking.

Should you give us more than 14 days’ notice of a change in your reservation, we can store your payment in the ‘safety deposit box’, to be used for a future travel date, either by you or transferred to a friend or family member. Refunds are not available unless your reservation is canceled by WSE Travel for circumstances outside of our control.

Should you give us less than 14 days’ notice of a change in your reservation, a rebooking fee will be imposed. We do try to be flexible for our guests, but not at the sacrifice of the livelihoods of all locals hired for your private experiences. As these are private experiences, your guide and any other local service provider block their days off from other work to accommodate your reservation, and may not be able to fill that day again in the event of cancellation.

To be fair and responsible to them and their reliance on your reservation’s promised work, your guide will still be paid for your reservation. As such, last-minute cancellations or changes within 2 weeks of departure will be subject to a rebooking fee of the online deposit, to re-hire a guide for your future travel date.

This flexibility is a bend in our Terms and Conditions to try to be fair both to our guests, as well as the locals hired to facilitate your reservation. If you feel there is a high chance of cancellations or changes, please make sure you buy appropriate travel insurance that will reimburse you for cancellations of things such as flights, hotels, and tours.

4 reviews for Oaxaca Zapotec Candle Making Experience – Private Tour

  1. Michael Novitzki (verified owner)

    We made two stops on this tour. The first was to a home that doubles as a relatively large-scale artisanal facility, where you can see all the stages of production and people working at those stages. They also give you an opportunity to try your hand at working with wax. The feeling of slowly getting the hang of it was really fun. Then we stopped at the much smaller-scale home workshop of a woman who produces alone, and whose work is internationally renowned. Her stories about her many decades as an artisan, the history of candles, and what it means for Oaxacans today were fascinating. Teotitlan Del Valle, where this tour takes place, is a mecca for various other artisan crafts, from tapestry weaving to mezcal to honey and beyond, so this tour is also a good opportunity to stock up on straight-from-the-source local goods, most of which travel quite well.

  2. Sarah Hughes

    I loved the hands on experience of this tour. We learned about the unusual tradition of why and how these ornate candles are made and we then had the chance to try our hand at making the decorative was flowers that adorn them. It was both fun and educational and I definitely recommend it.

  3. Ryan (verified owner)

    What a beautiful experience, but it’s hard to put into words. Getting to explore the history of candle making that is being kept alive by these families, and have such an intimate look at these traditions, made for a tour I’ll never forget. The highlight was definitely getting to learn the process and get hands on making our own. I feel like so many tours these days are to a shop simply to buy something, but this candle making tour in Oaxaca stood out above the others I’ve been on. And it was really enjoyable to sit with the family for a meal, hear their stories and and the in-depth history of the village and candle making in Teotitlan that’s been preserved. Thank you WSE for this experience, this wasn’t my first tour with them and definitely won’t be my last!

  4. Nathan (verified owner)

    This was such a unique cultural experience in Oaxaca. I’m so glad we found it. Learning a craft that was handed down through generations was truly remarkable. We even got to bring out handmade candle home with us. 2 Thumbs up!

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