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Holidays and Fiestas

January 1 — New Year's Day

January 6 — Three Kings Day (a.k.a. Feast of the Epiphany)

February 12 — Anniversary of the Discovery of the Amazon River; Province Day (Galápagos)

February 27 — National Community Spirit Day

End of February or early March — Carnival: Celebrated the weekend leading up to Ash Wednesday, Carnival is the ultimate party in the Catholic nations of Latin America. While not as extravagant in Ecuador as in other Latin American countries, celebrations here include water fights and lavish parades. In Ecuador, Carnival can best be enjoyed from Ambato, where the famous fruit and flower parade takes place, or — due to the water fights — in any place warm. Although the dates change annually according to the religious calendar, beware of flying water balloons and buckets of water flying on innocent passersby throughout Ecuador the entire month of February.

Easter and Holy Week (Semana Santa) — Religious processions and an endless supply of fanesca (a typical stew made of different grains and seafood eaten throughout the week) mark Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. While Holy Saturday is technically the only official holiday during which stores ought to be closed, many businesses are closed the whole week. Be advised that pretty much all of Ecuador goes to the beach during Holy Week, consequently prices go up and rooms are scarce. The Ceremonia de Reseña or Vísperas is celebrated in only three cities around the world, and Quito is one of them. If you are in Quito on Miércoles Santo be sure to check it out.

May 1 — Labor Day: Processions fill the streets and plazas to honor workers nationwide.

May 24 — Battle of Pichincha: Military and civilian parades show the nation's pride of the day in 1822 when the country's most important battle in the war for independence from Spain was fought.

June — Corpus Cristi: Usually celebrated on the ninth Thursday after Easter, this religious holiday / traditional harvest celebration of the highlands includes ceremonies and dancing.

June 24 — Saint John the Baptist: Celebrations in Otavalo and the surrounding highland communities.

June 29 — Saints Peter and Paul: Celebrations in Otavalo and the surrounding highland communities. Communities in Manabí Province and elsewhere on the coast fête these patron saints of fishermen with boat processions.

July 24 — Simón Bolívar's Birthday: A nationwide celebration of the birthday of South America's great liberator.

July 25 — Founder's Day, Guayaquil: Guayaquil's biggest party- the city shuts down for two days to celebrate Simón Bolívar's birthday and the foundation of Ecuador's most populous city.

August 10 — Quito Independence Day: Quito celebrates with outdoor concerts, plays and special events the whole month of August. September - Various harvest festivals throughout the country

September 1-15 — Fiesta del Yamor: An annual festival in the highland town of Otavalo.

September 23-24 — Festival of the Virgin of Mercy

October 9 — Guayaquil Independence Day: Once again, Guayaquil combines holidays (Independence Day and Columbus Day) to ensure a multi-day festival.

October 12 — Columbus Day: Also known as Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), Columbus Day celebrates the day in 1492 on which Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) first set foot on American soil in what is now known as the Dominican Republic. In the last decade, with more and more people recognizing the negative effect of the conquistadores that followed Columbus, the celebration is a time to focus on the indigenous groups and their significant contributions.

November 1 — All Saints' Day

November 2 — All Souls' Day (a.k.a. Day of the Dead): All Souls' Day is a day during which families visit cemeteries to dance, drink, eat and leave flowers and other offerings for deceased friends and relatives in a convivial ceremony designed to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on.

November 3 — Cuenca Independence Day: The culmination of three days of festivities, this is the final day of Cuenca's biggest annual celebration.

November 11 — Latacunga Independence Day and Festival of the Mama Negra: Parades and parties precede a Catholic-Pagan religious procession.

December 6 — Founder's Day, Quito: The air in Quito takes on a more festive spirit throughout the first week of December as Quiteños watch parades, attend street dances, and ride around Quito atop chivas (open-air party buses complete with live music and drinks). Also known as Fiestas de Quito, this week, in reality, is just the opening act to a month-long gala for many.

December 24 — Christmas Eve

December 25 — Christmas Day

December 28-31 — Year's End Celebrations: Starting with the Day of the Innocents, the entire nation symbolically prepares to enter a new year by burning human effigies in the streets as Quiteños end a nearly month-long party.In some parts, men dress up as viudas alegres (happy widows).

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Latin America: Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know Were Food!, Music in Ecuador and Dance, Theater and Comedy.

06 Aug 2012

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