Festivals are celebrated in plenty if we go by the Ecuadorian calendar. The main ones that contribute to the celebrations are the “Carnival” and “Easter Week”. Many festivals are held to commemorate the days of Quito’s independence struggle and remember the veterans who laid their lives during this era. Spanish music is famous worldwide, and with Quito being ruled by Spain for many years, it 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 from the end of November to the 6th of December, the festival of “Fiestas de Quito” is celebrated to commemorate the day; the Spanish laid the foundation of Quito in the year 1534. During this festival, events like bullfighting, flamenco dancing, parades, marchings, opera and theatre plays are organised. All squares and venues of Quito are packed with shows organised to remember the event.
International Sacred Music Festival of Quito
The Sacred Music Festival is the largest music festival in South America during the week of Easter. World famed musicians are eager to perform at this festival at various venues across Quito.
Carnival in Ecuador, known as Mardi Gras is celebrated a week before Lent. Ecuadorians celebrate this festival in a unique way. In Quito, traditional parades with dancers, musicians are organised. Musical and dance performances are also organised on stages. Food tents selling street food are set up near the parade sites.
Semana Santa or Holy Week is celebrated a week before Easter, and this traditional festival begins on Domingo de Ramos / Palm Sunday. Quito is the best place to enjoy Semana Santa celebration. In Quito the procession of Jesus de Gran Poder is organised and millions of people gather at the central Plaza de San Francisco to watch an image of Jesus brought to Quito's cathedral by purple-robed Cucurochos.
Battle of Pichincha Day (Independence Day)
24th May is the date of Battle of Pichincha, celebrated as independence day in Ecuador. Parades, Military parades are held throughout the country. On the volcano, the battle place, programs including air shows are arranged. Being a national holiday and an important event, cannon fires, flag hoisting ceremonies, cultural exhibitions and other such events are also organised.
Every June, 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 are also part of this festival.
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, Ecuador. On these days, the belief is that souls of your relatives visit you, and there should be ample food and drinks for them, so that their remaining journey to afterlife is comfortable.
Agosto Mes de las Artes
To promote tourism and conserve tradition, the city council of Quito started organising festivities and events in the field of music, dance, theatre, films, and crafts. It intended to make Quito the cultural capital of the country. Every August, various events are held at open-air venues where entry 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 burnt. The burnt dummy personalities characterise the “old year”. Men and women act as widows of these “old year” dummies and go home to home asking for money. There are also traditional events, celebrations and meals.