If you intend on living in Ecuador, you may want to get the information about the holidays and festivals in the country. Ecuadorians love to celebrate and you will really enjoy each and every one of them. The locals are very sociable, even with those beyond their family. You will find them to be sincere, accommodating and eager to include you as part of their close circle of friends.
One of the best ways to get close to the locals is to observe the same holidays and festivals in their custom. Some of the festivals reflect their main religion while others may be holidays that you will recognize from back home.
Ecuador holidays according to month
Here is a list of the holidays and festivals that you may want to join while you are living in Ecuador.
(1) New Year or (Año Nuevo) – This is a national holiday in Ecuador. The main celebration actually happens in New Year’s Eve – which will be discussed later on.
(6) Epiphany (Día de los Inocentes, y Reyes Magos) – This is also a national holiday.
March or April
(Week before Lent) Carnaval – This is one of the most important and most fun celebration in the country. The version of the Carnaval in Ecuador is quite unique because it can really be very messy. The elder Ecuadorians may not like it but the young ones do. During this festivity, they have a tradition of throwing water balloons and bags filled with flour or even eggs at each other – or those innocently passing by. It is all in good sport so you need to be ready to get very messy during the Carnaval.
(Date varies) Semana Santa – One of the important holidays in the Christian world is Lent. This is celebrated beginning on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and ends on Easter. This is a nationwide holiday that includes processions during Good Friday. One of the best processions usually happens in the capital city, Quito. During this time, Catholics abstain from eating meat.
(1) Labor Day (Dia de los Trabajadores) – This is a national holiday that is also celebrated around the world. During this day, workers go on parades and also demonstrations to voice out their concerns.
(24) Battle of Pichincha (La Batalla de Pichincha) – This national holiday commemorates the last battle of independence that happened in Ecuador during the time of the Spanish colonization. This battle happened 3,500 meters above sea level, since Pichincha is actually a volcano in Ecuador. This is celebrated in schools through parades and other commemorative activities while bigger cities hold military parades.
(Date varies) Marimba Festival – This is a festival that is specific to San Lorenzo in Esmeraldas. If you are living in Ecuador and specifically in this province, you may want to drop by for this three day festival that is filled with music and dancing.
May or June
(Thursday, date varies) Corpus Cristi – This holiday is held every Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Although it is a national holiday, it is popular to celebrate this in the highlands: Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Loja and Chimborazo. The celebration per town differs but they mostly include music, dancing, and costumes.
(24) St. John the Baptist (San Juan Bautista) – This holiday celebrates the life of St. John the Baptist. It is only celebrated in Otavalo and usually takes a whole week. There is also a ritual that honors Mother Earth or “Pachamama” wherein the local men dress up in costumes and dance from one house to the other. This goes on until they reach the chapel of San Juan. Upon reaching the chapel, they start to throw rocks at each other.
(29) San Pedro y San Pablo – This is a national holiday that begins the night before with street bonfires. There is a tradition that involves women jumping over the fire to help them get pregnant. The concentration of the festivities happens in the Imbabura province.
(24) Birthday of Simon Bolivar (Dia de Simon Bolivar) – This is a national holiday that commemorates the life of the foremost independence leader of Spanish America. He is known as El Libertador who led several battles against the Spaniards during their colonization. His efforts led to the independence of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Panama and of course, Ecuador. This holiday is celebrated through military and school parades. The national costume is also worn as bands and dancing in the streets become prominent during the celebration.
(25) Guayaquil Foundation – This celebration only happens in the city of Guayaquil where parades and schools all commemorate the founding of the city. There are various events happening in the downtown area.
(Date varies) Fiestas de San Lorenzo – This festival is exclusive to San Lorenzo in Ecuador and it honors the saint that they are named after.
(10) Quito Independence Day – This holiday is celebrated in the capital city, Quito and it commemorates how they are the first to battle against the French for their independence. This is what led to the Battle of Pichincha. This event is celebrated through concerts, music festivals and other cultural activities.
(1-15) Fiesta del Yamor – This is a holiday celebrated in Otavalo as a thanksgiving rite for the second solstice or the season of harvest. This celebration started way back in the time of the Incas. It is celebrated chicha – a potent liquor that is made from corn that is ground and mixed with water and allowed to ferment.
(23-24) Our Lady of Mercy (La Virgen de las Mercedes) – This is a popular festival that honors the Virgin Mary or specifically, Our Lady of Mercy. It is a festival that happens throughout South America but in Ecuador, it is concentrated in Latacunga.
(9) Guayaquil Independence Day – This celebration happens in Guayaquil to commemorate the day that the city became independent of the Spanish rule. It is celebrated with parades and other events to remember the historical significance of this day in the history of Ecuador.
(12) Columbus Day (Dia de la Raza) – This is a national holiday that celebrates the day that Christopher Columbus voyaged into the new world. This holiday is actually celebrated in a lot of South American countries like Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras, etc.
(1-2) All Saints’ Day (Todos los Santos) and Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) – This is a national holiday that is actually celebrated all over the world. It is the day when everyone remembers their loved ones who already departed. This celebration is marked with food, reunions, offering and visiting and decorating the tombs and graves of every beloved who passed away.
(3) Cuenca Independence Day – This holiday remembers the day that the city of Cuenca was liberated from the rule of the Spanish colonizers. In some areas, businesses close for the week and events happen throughout the city (e.g. parades).
(11) Latacunga Independence Day – This holiday celebrates the independence day of the city of Latacunga. This is only celebrated in Latacunga with parades.
(6) Founding or Quito – This holiday is celebrated only in Quito to remember the day that they were founded as a city.
(25) Christmas Day (Natividad) – This is a national holiday that is also celebrated all over the world. It is celebrated to remember the birth of the Christ. On December 24, “Pase del Niño” is celebrated in Cuenca on the 24th of December.
(29-31) Yearend Celebrations – This is done just before the New Year and it involves unique traditions in Ecuador. They celebrate the end of the year with “old years” or “años viejos” – which are stuffed dummies that are made of paper, sawdust, wood and firecrackers. They are shown throughout the whole country before they are burned. The locals dress in black (with some men dressed as women) and act as crying “widows” who go from house to house for the dummy’s funeral. Before being burned, the “widow” kicks the dummy or wipes it out if the past year had been a bad one. This is to help them have a better new year. It is said that the best place to celebrate the New Year is in Salinas.
Expats who are living in Ecuador will always be welcome to participate in the festivities. They are actually deemed to be guests of honor and will be welcomed everywhere. But always remember to be very careful not to offend and to be respectful of the traditions and practices of the locals. No matter how unique the practices may be, you have to respect the history and culture behind each and every one of them.
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