When I started telling people I was traveling to Peru there were many stories about the roots of La Diablada were told to me. It sounds like a fun thing to do in Puno. Men dress up as demons and join the usual population of women in multilayered dresses and bowler hats. According to one version of events, the horned parade hits the streets in remembrance of the departure of the devilish conquistadors in the late 19th century. This doesnt feel to far off once you see this in person. We sat back and watched in awe as it is quite beautiful as well.
An alternative version has it that the procession is lakeside to pay respects to the ancient spirits of Lake Titicaca. I think that either way, a local incarnation of the Dark Lord himself leads the processions, accompanied by dancers that seem to be possessed.
To make sure that no one confuses the intent, the red demons leave their crucifixes around their necks during the evening. Inside the capital of folklore, Puno rules supreme for La Diablada and its event in February called La Virgen de la Candelaria. This is a masked dance which tells the tale of trapped miners who battled an army of demons. I cant wait to come back to Puno to see this festival as well. Unfortunately we did not dress up but instead sat back and enjoyed the sites and sounds of the beautiful festival.