Ecuador’s early settlers, their adoption of the Christian faith and their contemporary way of life today provides an interesting mixture which is still present in the country’s cultural expressions.

Festivities of Ecuador include religious ceremonies often using Andean symbols, as well as different ceremonies that are sacred to each village. In each celebration, it is easy to notice different types of characters. They have lots of characters from devils to bulls – also known as Toros de pueblo – along with a unique atmosphere and captivating decor which provides a systematic illustration of traditions, rituals, and customs by those celebrating these traditional ceremonies.

One key moment of these festivals is the performance by the Banda de Pueblo. These people offer their national music to entertain and contribute to the celebration. It is also conventional for these festivals to include the drinking of brandy and liquor. Moreover, many people will toast with a glass of chicha – a traditional drink that has become part of the celebration's furniture.

The most celebrated Ecuadorian festivals and holidays during the first two months of the year are:


Pillaro Diablada - January 1st-6th: The popular festival known as Pillaro Diablada is celebrated in the province of Tungurahua at the beginning of the year. This festival sees men dressed up as devils, folk dances and parades throughout the city.


Epiphany’s Day - January 6th: Epiphany’s Day is marked with Christmas carols, masses, music performances, traditional dances, processions, and even fireworks. Also known as Día de Reyes, it is celebrated in many locations, including Chillogallo (Quito), Lican, Gatazo Grande, Chimborazo, Montecristi (Manabi), Cuenca (Azuay), Calpi, Tisaleo, Ambato (Tungurahua) and many other cities.


Carnival: The celebration of Carnival across Ecuador comes before Lent. Thus, the exact date will depend on Easter's date. The festival is often celebrated by playing with and throwing water. However, some villages prefer to use eggs and flour while more urban areas such as large cities will use the special carnival foam.

The carnival festival is celebrated with the mentioned games using water and traditional dances in Tungurahua. Alternatively, it is celebrated in Ambato with an exquisite fair of fruits and flowers, while the Afro Festival takes place with an international crowd in Esmeraldas. This is a music festival which also hosts dance competitions.

The most well-known festival takes place a few days prior and is called Carnival of Guaranda. At this party, you will find the traditional chicha drink which is made from corn, Blue Bird liquor, and beverages of Pajaro Azul. This is an annual festival and includes music, parades, dancing, costumes, and it will be difficult to miss locals throwing flour and water to visitors and passers-by.

The carnival that commences the celebrations is the Carnival of the Father, locally known as Taita Carnival. There is an opening celebration which is then followed by a party that lasts for eight days.


Virgen de la Caridad - February 2nd: Dances, fireworks, cow capture, and ball games are played at the Festival to the Virgin in Carchi. It is also known as Fiesta de la Virgen de la Caridad.

Feast of the earthquake lord - February 4th: In Patate, Tungurahua, Señor del Terremoto takes place and is known as a feast of the earthquake lord.

The Day of the East - February 12th: This day marks an anniversary of the country’s discovery of the Amazon River. This "Day of the East" celebration includes fairs in Puyo, Macas, Zamora, and Tena.


The holy week - March 19th to -21st: This Catholic holiday commemorates the biblical events of Calvary of Christ. Holy week begins with Palm Sunday “Domingo de Ramos,” and ends on Easter Sunday, “Domingo de Pascua o Resureccion.” The date of this celebration varies each year, as it depends on the ecclesiastical lunar calendar, and can take place between the 22nd of March and the 25th of April.

The most important events and processions of this Catholic celebration are:

“La procesion de Ramos” or Palm Sunday Procession of the towns of Lican and Chambo, in the Chimborazo Province.

“La procesion de Cristo del Consuelo” or procession of Crist of the consolation that takes place in Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province

“La procesion de Jesus del Gran Poder“ or procession of Jesus of the great power, that takes place in Quito, in the Pichincha province.

These religious processions are based in the biblical events of the Calvary of Christ and are carried out by voluntary devotees, who see this as a form of repentance and penance and as a strong demonstration of their faith.

In Quito in particular, the procession is accompanied by the “Cucuruchos,” who are persons that dress in a purple, long dress, with a pointy hat of the same color that covers all of their faces, leaving two holes for the eyes for the person to see. These characters walk along the procession with bare feet, and some with bare backs, which they hit with a “whip” made of ropes. The Cucurucho tradition began in the colonial times, where repentant and devoted Christians would wear the pointy hats (called cucurucho) and wait outside of the churches, enduring the elements and the looks of passersby. Nowadays, on Good Friday is possible to see hundreds of cucuruchos walking the streets of the historical center.

Festivals-of-ecuador Cucuruchos


Battle of Pichincha - May 24: This national holiday commemorates the victory of the liberation forces during a determinant battle of 1822, and that signified the independence from the Spanish Kingdom. This battle took place on the foothills of the Pichincha Volcano, where the city of Quito is located. This date is celebrated with parades and other cultural events across the country.


The indigenous community celebrates the Corpus Christi - June 15: Corpus Christi. In the town of Pillaro, in the Tungurahua province, the indigenous community celebrates the Corpus Christi with an amalgam of indigenous and Christian traditions. This is one of the most important folkloric traditions of Ecuador and has been declared an Intangible Cultural Treasure of Ecuador. The people of Pillaro and the surrounding communities gather this day to don very elaborated costumes with important indigenous elements and then dance in celebration in the town´s central plaza. One important element of this celebration is “El Danzante” (the dancer), also known as the rain priest, and it symbolizes the goodness and generosity of the indigenous communities.

Inti Raymi - June 17-21: The Inti Raymi or the celebration of the Sun is one of the most important indigenous celebrations of Ecuador and dates from the Incan and Cañari cultures. It celebrates the June solstice, which for the Incas marked the beginning of winter (in the southern hemisphere) and the celebrations can take up to 5 days. The celebration consists of parades and dances in costumes, in gratitude for the fertility of the soil and the good harvest. The biggest celebrations of Inty Raimy take place in the Cañar Province, in the Ingapirca community, just beside of Ecuador´s most important archeological site.



Paseo del Chagra - July 21: Chagra is the name given to the Andean Cowboys. When the Spaniards introduced horses to South America, they discovered that the Andes where a very difficult terrain to ride on, given the different soils and the deep gorges. Because of this, they thought the locals how to ride horses so that they could guide them through the difficult terrains, and thus the Chagra tradition as Andean cowboys was born. The Paseo del Chagra takes place in the town of Machachi, in the Cotopaxi province, and consists of parades with horses, bulls, Andean music bands, dances and a wide array of agricultural products of the region.



First cry for independence - August 10: On the 10th of August of 1809, in the city of Quito, the local leaders decided to declare the independence from the Spanish Crown. Although this independence process did not succeed, this independence declaration is considered as a very important historic event, as this first cry for independence was followed by other leaders and nations, and started the different independence processes in other countries of the region. This date is celebrated with a military parade and other events, in the city of Quito.

August, the month of the arts: In Ecuador, the month of August is considered the month of Culture and arts. During this month, there are special exhibitions in the museums, and many events are organized throughout the month, especially in the city of Quito. The cultural programs change every year and are coordinated by the municipality and local artists.


Cacería Del Zorro (foxhunt) - October 1st to the 8th: The city of Ibarra celebrates its foundation during the month of October. The most famous and interesting event of these celebrations is an equestrian activity known as Caceria del Zorro or Foxhunt. The “Fox” is a horse rider dress in back, with a cape hanging from his back. The Fox has a head start of 80 meters and is then chased by the “hunters,” which are other riders from the community. Whoever catches the cape of the Fox gest a price and also gets to be the Fox in the following year.

Independence of Guayaquil - October 9: In 1820, the city and province of Guayaquil declared its independence from the Spanish Crown. This date is celebrated in Ecuador as a national holiday and is the most important date for Guayaquil, which commemorates the date with parades and dance troupes through the city.


All Souls’ Day - November 2: Dia de los Difuntos. Ecuador celebrates the 02nd of November as “El Dia de los Difuntos” or “All souls day.” This national holiday is very important for the Ecuadorian people, who have the tradition of visiting the graves of their loved ones in the cemetery and leave their favorite meal by the grave, as a preset for the deceased. Another tradition of this day is the Guaguas de pan, which are dolls made of bread that are eaten together with Colada Morada, a warm and sweet brew made with different berries and only prepared in this holiday.

colada morada

Independence of Cuenca - November 3rd: Shortly after the declaration of independence if Guayaquil in October of 1820, the city of Cuenca, the third biggest and most important of Ecuador, also declared its independence from the Spanish Crown on the 3rd of November of 18290. This day is a national holiday in Ecuador and is celebrated with colorful Paredes in the historic center of Cuenca.

La Mama Negra. Every second Saturday of November the city of Latacunga celebrates “La Mama Negra” or Black mother. This cheerful celebration has a long-standing tradition and is quite beloved in the Andean region. A man, who has to be born in Latacunga, is elected by the townspeople and dresses as a black woman (the black mother) and rides on horseback through the town, accompanied by a procession with many elaborate costumes and many other riders. The Mama Negra represents the Mercedes Virgin, which is worshiped in the region and has two vases, one of milk and one of water, which the rider shares with the townspeople and with other characters of the parade.

Day of the Virgin of Quinche - November 21st: Quinche is a small community located a few kilometers north of Quito, in the Pichincha Province. This small town is known for its Virgin and the pilgrimage from devotees to this town on the 21st of November. People from all the region come to show their fate and devotion with a pilgrimage that departs from Quito to arrive at El Quinche, in a walk of approximately 37 kilometers.


Spanish Foundation of Quito - December 6: On the 5 and 6 of December, the city of Quito celebrates its foundation. There are many events throughout the city, including open-air concerts and the election of the city´s beauty queen. During this week, it is also usual to see the “Chivas,” open busses that drive around the town with music and people on board dancing and drinking.

December 24: Christmas. Given Ecuador´s Catholic faith and tradition, Christmas is celebrated all along the Ecuadorian territory. Cities are decorated with the traditional lights and Christmas trees, and in Quito, the city builds the nativity scene in the Panecillo, using the statute of the winged virgin.

December 31st: New Year. New ear in Ecuador has an interesting tradition. Families make or buy life-size rag or paper dolls, which are burnt on the streets at midnight. The doll represents the ending year and is usual that the dolls represent a personality of the country (a president or another known personality). During this day, men dress up as “viudas” the widowers of the ending year and request a donation from passing cars. The donations are then used to finance the new year´s party, organized by the different neighborhoods.

Before burning the doll, it is traditional to read the final “will” of the year, where it is usual to hear jokes and promises for the coming year.

In the cities of Quito and Guayaquil, there contests for the best-made dolls. On the 31st of December, the best dolls are exhibited on a street in each city, and the winner is decided. Each year the dolls are better built and with more effort, so don´t be surprised by the gigantic masterpieces, that will be burnt at midnight.


Cotopaxi: A perfectly shaped active volcano:




Amazon Rainforest: