Ecuador Travel
Heritage Festivities

Heritage Festivities

Traditional Festivals: A tour of the cultural manifestations of the four worlds in Ecuador

Traditional festivals in Ecuador can be identified as ancestral or indigenous, and traditional mestizo. Among the first are the festivities of the equinoxes and solstices, which were inserted into the Catholic calendar during the colonial period, such as the Carnival festivities prior to Lent, the Inti Raymi festival, which is celebrated in the Andes world, the same which starts with the Corpus Christi festival, the San Juan and San Pedro fiestas, in the north of Pichincha; and, the festival of Jora and Yamor in Imbabura.

While traditional mestizo festivities, for its symbolic richness and its historical-cultural implications, we can highlight: the Diablada de Píllaro, the Carnival, Holy Week, the pilgrimage of the Virgen del Cisne in Loja, the Romería a la Vírgen del Quinche, the feast of the Black Mama in homage to the Virgen de las Mercedes in Latacunga, the Rodeos Montubios of the provinces of Guayas and Los Ríos in the Costa World, the Pass of the Child in Cuenca, and the Old Years throughout the country , where popular creativity is evident in the construction of ingenious cardboard and paper dolls, which at midnight on December 31 are burned among multiple rituals, joy and joy, to receive the New Year with promises and good omens.

Each of these cultural manifestations for its history, traditions and customs, have become a great tourist attraction and therefore are part of the cultural strength that Ecuador has to share with the world.


The Diablada Pillareña

La Diablada PillareñaThe Devil is not just one. In Santiago de Píllaro, north of the province of Tungurahua, they come out as thousands in the well-known Diablada Pillareña. This festivity takes place from January 1st to 6th of every year and gathers all the Pillaran people. Men and women of different ages and social status participate. Anyone can disguise as a devil, even foreigners.

The origin of the Diablada Pillareña comes from the colonial era and it is deduced that it was the mestizo and Indian rebellion against the Catholic religion, which gave rise to this celebration. The Indians disguised themselves as devils in repudiation of priestly preaching and the physical, economic, psychological and moral mistreatment they received from the Spanish.

Legend has it that in this locality, the residents of the Marcos Espinel neighborhood came to court the women of Tunguipamba. The parents and brothers, very upset to learn of such insult, wanted to give a lesson to the gallants and, therefore, they found no better way than to take advantage of the darkness and disguise themselves with masks with horns, like the acolytes of the devil.

Others say that at the end of the decade of the forties, in celebration of the Day of the Innocent Saints, the “Legion”, a motley group of characters, went out into the streets of the town. There was the Cyclops, the Goblin, the Death, the Soul, the Ronca Box, the Two Faces, the Crazy Widow, the Uñaguille and the Devil. It is said that this last character was taken as a reference to give rise to the “Devils” of Píllaro.

There is a version that states that at the beginning of the new year, which coincides with the feast of the innocents, the inhabitants of Píllaro believe that the sky opens and therefore they perform a ritual in which they reach the limit of their understanding, their power of resistance and mentality. This practice gives them strength and supernatural powers. They disguise themselves and wear a mask that resembles the one they fear most; they dance to mock, to have control over the evil one. A third source attributes the origin of this particular party to the mitimaes of Bolivian origin that surely left their trace here, due to the coincidence of the characters with the Diablada del Carnaval de Oruro.

La Diablada Pillareña

Be that as it may, the well-known Diablada Pillareña, Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ecuador since January 2009, is a popular celebration that year after year incorporates more communities and devils adepts. The masks are handcrafted on the basis of a mold made in a block of earth to which several layers of couché paper soaked in paste are adhered. The mask is left in the sun so that it acquires hardness. Then horns and teeth of different animals are added: goats, deer, lambs, bulls, etc. In the end the color is granted, but the black and red tones stand out.

Their costumes are also multicolored and those made in mirror or satin fabric are distinguished, accompanied by live or fringes that contrast with the color of the suit. Many wear layers with different legends alluding to the demon, lucifer or the evil one. In the upper part of the head they use a crown made of pressed cardboard and covered with cellophane. Others wear wigs made with the fur of animals or cabuya, although today these elements have been replaced by wigs, hats or plastic straw.

Explosion of joy

With several months of anticipation the band of musicians that will accompany the dancers is looked for. The devils dance to the sound of a town band and follow the rhythms of sanjuanitos, saltashpas, tonadas and pasacalles. The dance runs around the line pairs, which represent the patterns; complete this comparsa the guarichas and capariches.

The legend also tells that those who wear devils in Píllaro have to do it for seven consecutive years, because strange things can happen to him. In addition there are seven known steps that the Devil performs in his dance. Every January, then, the devils take the streets of Píllaro. It’s a party between laughter and fear.

This magical cultural expression that is celebrated between January 1 and 6 was declared Cultural Heritage of Ecuador in 2009, because each year thousands of imps, in the afternoon, burst with their dances and music the peace and tranquility of the small town of Píllaro in the province of Tungurahua, to give way to a real party attended by thousands of national and foreign tourists.


The Carnivals in Ecuador

This festival that precedes Lent is celebrated in different ways in Ecuador, especially in the provinces of Azuay, Bolívar, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Imbabura.

An explosion of joy and euphoria is experienced during four days of the year, (Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, either in February or March, depending on the Liturgical Calendar). During this time people dress up, participate in parades, dance on the street, recite couplets, share with family and friends. In some places the carnival game is still maintained with water and dust, although this custom is gradually being replaced by carnival foams and paper mince throughout the country.


The Carnival of Guaranda

El Carnaval de Guaranda

At the voice of the carnival everyone gets up, everybody gets up to play the carnival. This is the song that is most sung every year in the streets of Guaranda, province of Bolívar.

The most attractive part of the party is the parade, where colorful costumes and dozens of characters put the touch of joy among the thousands of tourists who visit them. But more than a special day, the Guaranda Carnival is a historical celebration that recalls the tradition of the Huaranga Indians. These towns of the nation of the Chimbos, celebrated their cacique during three days in the second full moon of the year.

Their parties included songs, dances, food and drink. Nowadays, the indigenous and mestizo culture comes together in the celebration. According to the shamanic legend, the cacique leader the tribe and descendants of the gods had to imitate the whiteness of the snow; This is when the custom of covering the face with talcum powder or flour was originated.


Feast of Fruit and Flowers

Fiesta de la Fruta y de las flores

In the city of Ambato, province of Tungurahua, the Festival of Fruit and Flowers takes place during the Carnival. There the Carnival is celebrated without water, which has allowed the party to acquire greater importance and become an important reference in the tourist visit of America.

Comparsas, night walks, floral exhibitions, artistic, cultural events, craft fairs, agricultural and a bullfighting event, gather thousands of tourists each year. The blessing of fruit and flowers is the starting point for this great celebration.


The party of comadres and compadres

Los Carnavales en Ecuador

En Cuenca, capital de la provincia del Azuay se dice que durante el carnaval le “tratarán como a compadre”. El carnaval en la ciudad “Atenas del Ecuador” tiene una característica especial, pues mantiene aún algunas tradiciones; así, antes de iniciar la fiesta, se escoge al padrino o a la madrina. Este personaje (compadre y comadre) siempre es alguien importante, (famosos de la televisión, artista o persona muy conocida), no solo de la provincia, sino de cualquier otro rincón del Ecuador.

To give him the good news that he has been chosen as the prioste of carnival, he is given a present: a guagua (girl) of bread and sugar on a patent leather decorated with flowers, balloons, streamers, which symbolizes and marks the beginning of the celebration . This delivery is made two Thursdays before the carnival. Already at the party, especially in the proclamation, visitors are offered mistelas (macerated fruit brandy) and guaguas of bread to strengthen friendship. Then the festivities continue in the rural parishes of Cuenca, where traditional games, as well as parades and music, put the culmination of the party.


The Chota and its festival of Coangue

El Chota y su festival de Coangue

The carnival of Coangue in Chota, Imbabura province (north of the country) is one of the attractions of this corner of the country. This is the music and dance festival on the banks of the Chota River, located on the side of the Pan-American Highway, between Ibarra (Imbabura) and Tulcán (Carchi). This festival began 14 years ago, and it attracts thousands of tourists who come attracted by this new proposal of ethno-cultural tourism, in which members of 38 communities participate.

Music groups (pumps, very typical of the place), craft fairs, gastronomy, exotic fruits of the sector such as ovos, tunas, among others; and in the nights pyrotechnic fires and dances, they are part of the wide tourist offer in this sector.


The Pawcar Raymi of Peguche Tío

El Pawcar Raymi de Peguche Tío

Each year the community of Peguche located north of Otavalo-Imbabura, lives one of the Andean Raymises as part of the historical process that it experiences, a cultural syncretism with the western carnival. It’s about the Pawcar Raymi Peguche Uncle. This celebration began formally in 1995 with the name of “Peguche Uncle Carnival”, had as central axis the Mundialito of Indigenous Soccer.

In 1999 its name was changed to Pwcar Raymi or Fiesta de Florecimiento, with which the land is thanked because the products planted in September of the previous year begin to bloom in February.


Carnival for life, a reunion space in Chimborazo

Carnival for life, a reunion space in Chimborazo

The carnival is an expression of life, which from the rich syncretism becomes the feast of abundance before the abstinence in Lent in the province of Chimborazo. It is a multicultural celebration of intercultural experience, which every year attracts thousands of national and foreign tourists.

During the four days (Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) it is developed in cities and parishes of the province, an extensive program that includes the proclamation of the carnival, village band competitions, ancestral ritual Yaya Carnival and Mama Shalva, Pawkar Raymi Festival , albazos; and, with the largest Jucho (sweet drink made with capulíes and peaches) they seek to conquer the palate of visitors.


Holy Week in Ecuador

Semana Santa en Ecuador

The celebration of Holy Week in Ecuador includes the development of several liturgical ceremonies. In each region, city or locality of the country, it is celebrated in a diverse way. The recreation of the Viacrucis; the Construction of Mount Calvary; the Preaching of the Seven Words; the Descent; processions throughout the week; and, finally, the Glory Mass on Easter Sunday, are part of the religious acts that take place from Palm Sunday until the Sunday of Glory.



Cristo del Consuelo in Guayaquil

The image of Cristo del Consuelo has been venerated for more than 50 years in the church of the same name, located at the intersection of Lizardo García and A streets, southwest of Guayaquil. It measures approximately 1.80 meters and was carved by the master Cuenca Julio Sinchi.

Bath of the Cross in Ballenita

For decades, the Bath of the Cross takes place on Holy Tuesday at the beach of Ballenita, province of Santa Elena. It is done by fishermen to ensure a good job during the year and tranquility in the waters.

Riobamba: Procession of the Lord of Good Success

The main celebration is the procession of the Lord of Good Success that takes place on Holy Tuesday, in Riobamba-Chimborazo, through the downtown streets of the city, starting at 3:00 p.m. Starts from the church of La Concepción (city center). The image of the Lord of Good Success is protected by members of the National Police and other entities, who are previously chosen for this purpose. There is no lack of male saints, (cornets), veronicas, Roman soldiers, bands of music and the Catholic people who in large numbers accompany the Lord of Good Success year after year during his procession. The Lord of Good Success, Patron of the city, was rescued from the rubble of the old Riobamba, buried by the strong earthquake of February 1797.

Pichincha-Quito: The Drag of Caudas

The Drag of Caudas: ‘The Purification of the Sins’

Every Wednesday of Holy Week at 12.00 the Cathedral of Quito takes place the Dragons of Cauda a religious ceremony of the Catholic world that arrived in Quito in 1550. It is a funeral commemoration in homage to Christ, who for its traditions and rituals has It has become a blessing for those who participate and admire this ritual.

Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas / The Kasama Festival

The procession of the Via Crucis begins in the cathedral church and runs through the main streets of the city until you reach the Sanctuary of Our Lady of El Cisne, located on the Bomboli hill, where the meditation of the Via Crucis begins.

Meanwhile, in the province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, the Kasama Festival is celebrated, which is considered by its tsáchilas inhabitants as the “beginning of a new year or new dawn”.


Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

In Ecuador, the festivities of Corpus were celebrated in June, with special intensity in the colony, through large popular mobilizations and colorful theatrical events, whose actors interacted a lot with the public. These cultural representations were followed by music and dances, which generally lasted several days. Important elements of this celebration were the fireworks elaborated with gunpowder, exalting the fire as an element of demonstration of jubilation. Some of the parties of Corpus mixed with the ancestral indigenous of the Inti Raymi, generating a certain fusion between them and therefore changes in the values ​​and original practices of the Inti Raymi.


Dancers of Pujilí

The Dancer of Pujilí

The Dancer of Pujilí, considered Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2001, is the central character of this festival, whose splendor and eye-catching captivate tourists and make this celebration an unforgettable event. This event that takes place in the month of June of each year brings together more than 70 delegations from all over the country and is characterized by dances, music from town bands, lots of color and excitement.


Inti Raymi or Feast of the sun or “Feast of the second abundance”

Inti Raymi o Fiesta del sol o “Fiesta de la segunda abundancia”

The Feast of the Inti Raymi, feast of the Sun or Solemn Easter of the Sun takes place in June, of each year. It is loaded with expressions of ancestral symbolism and components of philosophical, religious, political, economic and astronomical order, it is the manifestation of the Rune-Man in thanksgiving to the Sun God for his kindness to nature. Its relationship is mathematical with the summer solstice, thanks to the exact handling of the stars and their influence on agriculture, which denotes the convergence of time and the cyclical space of the Andean man.


Feast of the Yamor

Fiesta del Yamor

It is a cultural celebration qualified as “the happiest party in the friendliest city in the country” in which year after year, the devotion to the Virgin Mary of Monserrate, linked with the gratitude to the Pacha Mama for the fecundity of the land and for making the crops possible.

The party was born in the Monserrat neighborhood, in the city of Otavalo, province of Imbabura, approximately in the year of 1952, where traditionally it was celebrated to thank the virgin María de Monserrat, patron saint of Otavalo and the Pacha Mama for the corn harvest and the vivifying work of the Otavaleña region.

In this celebration typical dishes and drinks were offered, among which was the chicha del yamor. From 1953 on, it was institutionalized as the “Yamor” festival.

This festival is held once a year, at the end of August until the first week of September, where the different events and events take place in various scenarios of the city of Otavalo and the surrounding communities.


The Black Mama

La Mama Negra

Declared in 2005 as Intangible Cultural Heritage of the country, the feast of the “Black Mama” that takes place in the months of September and November in the city of Latacunga, province of Cotopaxi, is the most famous and transcendental of the Andes World. This is the ceremony that is offered each year to the Virgen de las Mercedes or Santisima Tragedia, the “Mama Negra”, as part of a tradition that fuses indigenous and Hispanic cultures.


Rodeo Montubio

Rodeo Montubio

In the coastal provinces of Los Ríos, Guayas and Manabí, the maximum expression montubia is also lived in October. It has its origin in the works of the ironwork that was customary to execute in the haciendas along with the taming of horses and the contest of amorfinos (coplas), while they were tasted delicious dishes like the goose of chicken and the tamales.


Return Feast at Ibarra

This 2017 marks the 145th anniversary of the return of the survivors of the devastating earthquake of 1868, which destroyed the town of San Miguel de Ibarra.

On August 16, 1868 occurred the so-called Ibarra earthquake, although it affected the entire province of Imbabura, with a balance of 20,000 deaths, approximately. In the city, about 7,200 inhabitants, about 5,000 died.


The Fox Hunt

The Fox Hunt

The Hunting of the Fox is a competition of horsemen that goes back to 1972, when some students of the equestrian school were invited to the San Vicente Ranch of the Police, in Quito (Pichincha). The first Hunting was developed in the mountainous spaces located in what is now the ‘Y’ sector, and the Avenida de la Prensa in Quito.

The first Fox of this competition was the French André Oviol, who was based in Ecuador; and the first winner was Hugo Serrano, leader of the group of ibarreños students.


Passage of the Traveling Child

Passage of the Traveling Child

During the 24th of December a great procession takes place, from the neighborhoods of Vado and San Sebastián, to the west of Cuenca, towards the Calderón Park. Thousands of children, accompanied by their parents and relatives, parade from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. Of special interest are the foremen, blacks, floats, dancers, musical ensembles, biblical scenes.


Popular Feast the burning of the Old Year

Fiesta Popular la quema del Año Viejo

In the feast of the old years in Ecuador, the main character is the crazy widow. It is a man dressed as a woman, who is placed next to the Old Year, to ask everyone who passes by, a “limosnita (alms)” to bury it. His choreography when asking for alms is what has transcended our national borders.