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The Kite Festival At Santiago Sacatepéquez And Sumpango (for Day Of The Dead) 


Kite Festival Guatemala

On November 1st, many countries in Latin America celebrate All Saints’ Day, a traditional day of remembrance for the deceased. In two Guatemalan towns, Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango, the townspeople have adopted a unique tradition of flying massive, colorful kites above their cemeteries. Known as the Feria del Barrilete Gigante (Festival of the Giant Kite), the two towns (both about 20 kilometers/12 miles north of Antigua) draw hundreds of visitors to observe the ceremonial activities.

The enormous contraptions range in size between 4.5 and 15 meters (15-50 ft). They are made of bamboo and tissue paper emblazoned with intricate patterns, vibrant colors and often politically-slanted messages. The larger kites stay close to the ground, while the smaller ones are flown high. They are supposed to symbolize the dead, floating above the living. Sometimes the kites fall apart due to strong winds (which are fairly common at this time of year), and can land on the crowds below. However, most kites are fairly lightweight and won’t cause much damage, but be on your toes. The long hours spent crafting the kites and their quick destruction aptly symbolizes the life-and-death theme of the holiday.

Further Information

Travel tips: The festivals are held in both towns, with Sumpango’s a bit larger than the one in Santiago Sacatepéquez. The easiest way to get to Santiago is via Antigua, which has buses that run out the western side of the market. To get to Sumpango, it’s a bit easier to go through Chimaltenango or Guatemala City.

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By Eli Mangold
22 Jul 2010

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