Held in late May or early June, El Gran Poder began in 1939 as a candle procession led by an image of Christ through the predominantly campesino neighborhoods of upper La Paz. The following year the local union of embroiderers formed a folkloric group to participate, other festival-inspired folkloric groups joined in, and the celebration grew larger and more lively.

It has now developed into a unique La Paz festival; embroiderers prepare elaborate costumes and upwards of 25,000 performers practice for weeks in advance. A number of dances are featured, such as the suri sikuris (in which the dancers are bedecked in ostrich feathers), the lively kullasada, morenada, caporales and the inkas, which duplicates Inca ceremonial dances.