Festivals are celebrated in plenty if we go by Ecuadorian calendar. The main ones that contribute to the celebrations are the “Carnival” and “Easter Week”. There are many festivals that are held to commemorate the days of Quito’s independence struggle and to remember the veterans who laid their lives during this era. Spanish music is famous world wide and with Quito being ruled by Spain for many years, it but naturally has its influence on Quito’s regional music. Cultural, Film and Theatre Festivals sum up Quito’s idea of fun and enjoyment.
Fiestas de Quito
Every year on December 6 the festival of “Fiestas de Quito” is celebrated to commemorate the day; the Spanish laid the foundation of the city in the year 1534. People enter the street, dance and have fun, huge display of fireworks is put on show and all the square and venues of Quito are packed with shows organised in remembrance of the event. There are dancers, musicians and merriment all around and the festivities are no less than a carnival.
"Cero Latitud" Film Festival
The "Cero Latitud" Film Festival is one of the most important events in Quito with a number of premium documentaries, animation films, short films, videos being screened at the festival across four cities simultaneously. Along with Quito, the festival also takes place in Guayaquil, Ambato and Cuenca. Awards are given in categories such as full feature length films, animated films, advertising films, etc. Nearly 100 films are screened every year at the festival.
The Sacred Music Festival is the largest music festival in South America that takes place during the week of Easter. World famed musicians are eager to perform at this festival which takes at various venues across Quito such as churches, theatres and Old Town. In the previous years, around 300 musicians from six countries have taken part in the festival which included 22 shows.
Experimental Theatre Festival in Quito
The Experimental Theatre Festival / FITE-Q takes place every October in Quito to find new ways of expressing human emotion through the medium of theatre. This performing arts festivals along with staging experimental theatre performances also, arranges workshops for dance, theatre, production, direction by international artists. The festival takes place at different venues such as Teatro Nacional Sucre, Teatro Variedades, Teatro Benalcazar, Teatro Bolívar, Teatro Facultad de Artes, Plaza del Teatro, Tribuna del Sur, Plaza Foch, Plaza de Guápulo and Tribuna de los Shyris.
In the month of February or March, a week before Lent, Ecuadorians belonging to Quito come together to celebrate their traditional Carnival in a very unique way. Unlike other Latin Carnivals, people throw water balloons, flour bags, eggs and anything that comes in their hands, at each other. While old fashioned Ecuadorians love the flower parades, young Quitons enjoy this kind of fun.
Semana Santa or Holy Week is celebrated a week before Easter and this traditional festival begins on Domingo de Ramos / Palm Sunday. Processions are held on the streets on Good Friday and natives prepare the traditional soup called Fanesca made with Bacalao fish. During this week, Catholics refrain away from eating meat. Prayers and masses are held in churches on Good Friday, Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. The Week ends on Saturday which is a national holiday, with Sunday being an Easter Sunday.
Battle of Pichincha Day / Independence Day
Independence Day is the day of victory of the Battle of Pichincha fought on the mountains of Quito, after which the Spanish were defeated and the real process of political independence began. Being a national holiday and an important event, military parades, cannon fires, flag hoisting ceremonies, cultural exhibitions and other such events are organised.
Corpus Cristi is held on Thursday that comes immediately after Trinity Thursday. The festival is celebrated in different ways such as by donning masks and holding palos encebados (smeared poles) which are climbed by men who want to acquire the prizes hanging from the pole. As in all other festivals, music, dancing and wearing bright, colourful costumes is a part of this festival also.
Day of the Dead
On the 1st and 2nd of November ethnic festivals of All Saints' Day (Todos los Santos) and Day of the Dead (Dia de los Difuntos, o muertos) are celebrated in Quito. The belief is that on these souls of your relatives visit you, and there should be ample food and drinks for them should be ready so that their remaining journey to after life is comfortable.
Agosto Mes de las Artes
To promote tourism and conserve tradition, the city council of Quito started to organise festivities and events in the field of music, dance, theatre, films, and crafts. Its intention was to make Quito the cultural capital of its country. So every August, various events are held at open air venue where entrée is free.
Ecuador has a unique way of celebrating New Year’s Eve. They call it “años viejos" (old years). On this day, stuffed dummies of famous personalities are paraded on the streets before they are finally burnt. The burnt dummy personalities characterize the “old year”. Then men and women act as widows of these “old year” dummies and go home to home asking for money. It is believed that after the dummies are kicked and burnt, bad year has gone by and New Year is a happy year.