Ecuador festival tours, visit indigenous & popular festivals

Dates & events for festival tours

To visit a town during the celebration of a party is having the chance to know its people idiosyncracy because in their songs, in their dances and in their costume, is possible to discover their customs, their sadness and their happiness. Ecuadorians celebrate their parties with an overflowing enthusiasm, each participant dress best clothes and the whole town gets organized in advance to have everything -including drinks and food for everybody- set up.

Since the pre-hispanic times the people of Ecuador celebrate festivities that coincided with the crop or the solar cycle (spring and summer), the equinoxes and solstices. But, with the arrival of the Spaniards, the Church transformed many indigenous celebrations into catholic holy days by overlapping dates, today there is a colorful blend of Catholic celebrations and indigenous festivals. Civic days are also remembered with pride and respect.

Below is a calendar of the most important festivities around the country, should your travel plans match any of the below dates you have the opportunity to include a visit to one of these colorful festivals.

January

  • New Year, celebrated all over the country. 1st of January. The Ecuadorians celebrate the New Year with dances, costumes and masks in  parties with family and friends.
  • "Fiesta de los Reyes Magos" Festival of the 3 kings: All over the country . 6th of January. The visit of the Three Kings to Jesuschrist is commemorated. In the towns and cities masses and meetings are organized. In Great Gatazo (Chimborazo), one chooses to be a "prioste" (celebration sponsor) or to parade as one of the kings and ambassadors; whereas in Ambato (Tungurahua), people sing Christmas carols and the devotees participate in processions. 
  • Bailes de los inocentes (Dance of the Inocents):  Celebrated in Pichincha Quito-Chillogallo. 15 of January. Celebrated with dances and masks, brightened up with the music of typical town bands.

February

  • Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity): Celebrated in the province of Carchi town of Mira. 1st of February. With great devotion people commemorate the Celebration of the Virgin of the Charity. Fireworks and popular dances. 
  • Aniversario del Descubrimiento del río Amazonas (Discovery of theAmazon river). Celebrated all over the country. 12th of February. Civic activities, remembering the expedition commanded by Francisco de Orellana, who departed from Quito in search of "El Dorado" and discovered the Amazon river to Europeans in June of 1542. 
    Día de la Provincia de Galápagos (Galapagos province day): Celebrated by all the province. 12th of February. The Town Hall starts all civic and cultural activities.
    Día del Patriotismo y la Unidad Nacional (Patriots day). Celebrated all over the country.   27th of February. Remembering of the Tarqui battle (1829) and flag loyalty oaths by  highschool students.
  • Carnaval (Carnival): Celebrations all over the country. Movable dates. The carnival depends on the day of Passover. Each town waits for this festivity with anxiety the arrival of these festivities, celebrating with parades, dances and floats.

March

  • Fiesta de la Caña de Azúcar (Sugar cane festival): celebrated in Imbabura - Atuntaqui.March 2nd - 5th. Dances and street singin, the settlers celebrate the sugar cane and handcrafts festivity. 
  • Fiesta del Melocotón (Peach festival): celebrated in Azuay - Gualaceo. 4th - 10th. Crafts, exhibitions, dances and masks.
  • Holy Week: Celebrate all over the country. Movable dates. The week begins with the Palm Sunday, the town takes palm leaves to get blessed at the Churches. The passion and death of Christ are remembered with masses and processions full of devotion and sadness, which reflects the faith of the Ecuadorian people. 

April

  • Fundación de Cuenca (foundation of Cuenca): All over the Azuay province. 12th of April. A series of protocolic activities in the occasion of the Anniversary of the cities foundation, like serenades with fireworks, artistic presentations, social and popular celebrations and many other activities.
  • Feria agrícola (Agricultural fair): celebrated in Chimborazo - Riobamba. 19th - 21st of April. Allegorical floats, fireworks, folkloric dances, among others.
  • Feria Popular Lationamericana de Exposición de Artesanías (Latin American artisan show): Celebrated in the province of Imbabura, city of Ibarra. 22nd - 26th of April. During the festivity there is a display of artisan creations from the most important South American popular artists. 

May

  • Día del Trabajo (Labor day): Celebrated all over the country: 1st of May. All the employees make parades along the streets and all government offices are closed.
  • Festival de las cruces (Festival of the crosses): Celebrated in Pichincha - Quito. May 2nd - 3rd. The settlers of the districts of Champicruz and the Green Cross, go out during the night to celebrate their protective crosses, with fireworks, songs and masks dances.
  • Día del Señor de la Buena Esperanza (Lord of the good hope): Celebrated in Pichincha - Checa. 3rd of May. Day of the Patron Saint and the Master of the Good Hope. The town celebrates with their typical band, bonfires and also fireworks.
  • Feria y exposición agrícola (Agricultural fair & Expo): Celebrated in Pastaza - Puyo. May 11th - 14th. A fair and agricultural, cattle and industrial exhibition, is made in the Amazonian region.
  • Batalla de Pichincha (Pichincha Battle): All over the country. May 24th. Cultural parades and activities to the memoire of the battle of Pichincha (1822), that sealed the independence of Ecuador.

June

  • Corpus Christi: Celebrated in several provinces of the country Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Azuay and Loja  Pujilí, Salasaca, Cuenca and Saraguro. Dates are movable. The most important celebration of the Central Andes the festivities vary according to the place where it is celebrated. For example: In Pujili it is celebrated with music and dances. The dancers get dressed in spectacular embroidered suits, plaster masks and hats adorned with shining tapes and feathers.
  • Fiesta del maíz y del turismo (Corn & tourism festival): Celebrated in Pichincha - Sangolqui. June 22nd. This day is celebrated with parades, masks dances and handcrafts exhibition. All the town participates in the popular bull fights (animals are not harmed). 
  • Fiesta de San Juan (Saint Johns festivities): Celebrated both in Imbabura and Pichincha provinces, mainly in the towns of Otavalo and Tabacundo. 23rd - 24th of June. With several dances and parades the traditional celebration of San Juan is celebrated. In Otavalo, it is a masculine celebration, that can last all the week. In days gone (decades past) it would end with stone throwing in the vestibule of the Church, this practice has been banned. 
  • Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo (Saint Peter & Saint Paul): All over the country. 28th - 29th of June. In some communities of Imbabura (Cotacachi and Cayambe), this festivity is celebrated with dances, parades, bonfires and delivery of rooster branches during the ceremonies.

July

  • Santo Domingo: Celebrated in Pichincha all over the province. July 3rd - 29th. Anniversary of the canonization of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, celebrated with parades, dances and an agrarian exhibition.
  • Celebración de la Virgen del Carmen (Carmen Virgin): Celebrated all over the country. July 16th. In the center of Cuenca, (province of Azuay) floats are made for a parade, and in Chambo (province of Chimborazo) the natives visit during this day the sanctuary of the Virgen de la Fuente del Carmelo de Catequilla, where a catholic church was constructed on a sacred mountain.
  • Natalicio de Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar´s birthday): All over the country. July 24th. The Ecuadorian people remember the birth of the Liberator of the Americas, the main character of the independence of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. 
  • Aniversario de la fundación de Guayaquil (Guayaquil foundation): Guayas all over the province. July 23rd - 25th. Parades, dances in the streets and the International Beauty Contest "Pearl of the Pacific" are part of the celebrations. Also cultural exhibitions, art festivals and several activities are organized. 
  • Día de la celebración del apóstol Santiago (Saint Santiago): celebrated in Tungurahua - Pillaro. July 29th. Confinements of young bulls "novillos" and other attractions are part of the festivities.

August

  • Día de la Independencia Esmeraldas (Esmeraldas independence): celebrated all over the province. August 5th. An arts & crafts festival, agricultural and industrial fair are organised. Afro-Ecuadorian folklore, Marimba dancing, beauty pageants, etc 
  • Fiesta de la Virgen de las Nieves (Virgin of the snows): celebrated in Chimborazo - Sicalpa. 5th - 7th of August. The town celebrates this festivity with fireworks, clowns and presentation of typical dances.
  • Independencia del Ecuador (Independence day): celebrated all the country. August 10th. National Festivity that commemorates the Independence of Ecuador (1809). The military and scholastic parades are traditional for this date.
  • Festividades de San Lorenzo: celebrated in Tungurahua - Pilaro. August 10th. Bull runs and masked dances are organised.
  • Festividad de San Jacinto: celebrated in Guayas - Yahuachi. 10th of August. The villagers make several peregrinations.
  • Fiesta de la Virgen del Cisne (Virgin of the Swan): celebrated all around the province of Loja. August and September. The town celebrates the Festivity of its Patron Saint: The virgin of the Swan, with typical dances, horse races, roosters fights and folksongs. The celebration begins the 15th of August and continues until a movable date in September.
  • Feria de Agricultura (Agricultural fair): celebrated in El Oro - Santa Rosa. August 25th. Different agricultural exhibitions are organised. 

September

  • Fiesta de la Jora (Jora Festival): celebrated in Imbabura - Cotacachi. September 6th - 14th. Commemorated with folkloric dances and typical food.
  • Feria Internacional del Banano (International Banana show): celebrated in El Oro - Machala. September 20th - 26th. Ecuador is the first world-wide producer of bananas and in the province of Gold, the best fruits are exhibited. 
  • Virgen de las Mercedes (Virgin of the Mercedes): celebrated in Cotopaxi - Latacunga. September 23rd - 24th. Celebrations in honor of the Virgin of the Mercedes with masked dances, typical bands, fireworks, midnight mass and folkloric festivals.
    In the province of Cotapaxi the image receives the name of "Black Mother", because its face is dark. This festivity is one of most famous of the country. Multiple parades in the streets, in which the settlers disguise themselves as politicians; in addition, there are fireworks and town bands. It is presumed that the cult has indigenous roots, in spite of his Christian look. 
  • Fiesta de los Lagos (Lakes festival): celebrated in Imbabura - Ibarra. September 24th - 28th. Parades, folkloric dances, car racing in Yahuarcocha. Agricultural and Industrial International Exhibition.  

October

  • Independencia de Guayaquil (Guayaquil independence): celebrated in Guayas - Guayaquil. October 9th - 12th. Guayaquil Independece is commemorated with the International Industrial Fair, concerts, dances, parades, exhibitions and other activities.
  • Día de la raza (Day of races): celebrated all over the country. October 12th. Columbus arrival to America is remembered. 

November

  • Todos los Santos y día de los Difuntos (All saints & day of the dead): All over the country. November 1st. - 2nd. Religious Festivity that conserves pre-hispanic traditions like the cult to the dead. On November 2, the indigenous families eat, drink and deposit offerings of flowers in the cemeteries, specially, in the countryside. The typical meals are guaguas de pan (bread dolls) and the colada morada (syrup of fermented corn). 
  • Mama Negra (The Black Mother): celebrated in Chimborazo -  Calpi. November 6th. Parades in the streets, in which the settlers render cult to the "Black Mother"; in addition, there are fireworks and bands. 
  • Día de la Independencia de Cuenca (Independence of Cuenca): celebrated in Azuay - Cuenca. November 3rd. Festivity that remembers the Independence of Cuenca. Cultural processions, dances and other activities are organized.
  • Día de la Manta (Manta day): celebrated in Manabí - Manta. November 4th. Parades and celebrations.
  • Independencia de Latacunga (Independence of Latacunga): celebrated in Cotopaxi - Latacunga. November 11th. The town remembers the Independence of Latacunga with parades, cultural events and bull runs.
  • Virgen del Quinche (Virgin of Quinche): celebrated in Pichincha - Quinche.   November 21st. Religious Ceremony, peregrinations and commercial fairs.

December

  • Fundación de San Francisco de Quito (Foundation of Quito): celebrated in Pichincha - Quito. December 1st - 6th. During the celebration the Queen of Quito is chosen. Bullfights, parades and dances are traditional. The tradition to climb cucaña, a wood with soap that in its end has a prize, still stays. 
  • Navidad (Christmas): All over the country. December 25th.Scenes of Christmas in churches. Midnight mass, carols and folkloric festivals. 
  • Día de los Santos Inocentes (Day of the Inocent saints): All over the country. December 28th. Masks, clowns, dances and other activities.
  • Celebración de la Noche Vieja (Old night celebration): celebrated all the country. December 31st. The Old Year leaves with the burning of dolls of natural size that represent the politicians