Calendar of Events
Guatemala is a country full of colorful events and Antigua is at the epicenter of the most impressive festival of the year. Semana Santa (Easter week) sees Antigua transformed into a colorful mass of street carpets, each one hand made with colored sawdust, masses of colorful flowers, petals and leaves. These carpets take anywhere from 1 to 3 days to create are completed in time for the parade of processions to walk over them. The street carpets are a tradition dating back to the 16th century; Antigua and Grenada are the only two places that still continue this amazing tradition. We advise that you book as far in advance as possible as the hotel and the city rapidly fill for Semana Santa.
Besides Semana Santa there seems to be some sort of festival happening every month. Listed below are of some of Guatemala’s major events. Our staff is more than pleased to arrange for tours and excursions to all events. To avoid any disappointments please let us know in advance if you are planning your trip around a festival.
Semana Santa, or Easter week in Guatemala is one of the most colorful times to visit the country and to admire the religious and Indian folkloric traditions on display in different regions of Guatemala. The best place to be during Holy Week is La Antigua Guatemala. Other Indian villages with colorful folk traditions are Huehuetenango and Totonicapán, in which the passion of Christ is reenacted live by a regional council of Indians who restage the events that happened on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Holy Week in Guatemala represents a conjunction of Catholic beliefs and of pagan Indian rites in the more picturesque regions of our highlands. We invite you to come and admire our beautiful processions and colored sawdust carpets. We recommend arriving in Guatemala the Friday before Holy Wednesday and to stay for at least one week after Easter Sunday to have time to visit the major archaeological sites in the Petén area (you can also take an extension to visit the beaches in Belize). Please be aware that groups stay at a single village. And, since only full-week packages are available, all-day excursions are scheduled to the major villages of interest, such as Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlán, etc.
All Saints Day in Huehuetenango, and Santiago Sacatepequez
~ November 1~
November 1st is one of the most important days of the year in Guatemala. On this day we celebrate the Day of the Dead. It is a celebration in which cemeteries are visited and decorated in memory of loved ones. It is a union of ancient pagan beliefs and of the Catholic traditions brought over by the Spaniards in the XVI and XVII centuries. On this day two major celebrations take place "the horse races in Todos Santos, Huehuetenango," and the flying of giant kites in Santiago Sacatepéquez. The village of Santiago Sacatepéquez is of Cakchiquel origin, and is located 30 Km from La Antigua Guatemala. From the early morning hours, the people in this village gather in the narrow streets and begin their procession to the local cemetery. Once there, they take part in one of the most colorful traditions of Guatemala, flying giant kites to communicate with their loved ones who have passed away. The celebration takes place in the local cemetery, and it ends with a sumptuous lunch and a traditional dish called "fiambre." The giant kites are around 2 meters in diameter, and have small messages tied to their tails in which the villagers let their dead know how they are doing and ask God for special favors. The celebration in Todos Santos, Huehuetenango, takes another perspective. This isolated village in the Cuchumatanes mountains is of Man origin, and the Indians celebrate this day by racing horses and eating the most traditional dishes peculiar to that day. The oldest Indians tell us that the traditional meal of this day begins with a prayer and then a black tamale is eaten.
Celebration of Santo Tomas, the Patron of Chichicastenango
During the year, Chichicastenango is home to the most outstanding market in Latin America. Every Thursday and Sunday the Indians gather at the main plaza to sell their wares. But every December the celebrations in this Quiche village take on even greater proportions. Come and admire the rare change of Cofradias and how the Indians commemorate their mythological gods and the Christian god. Admire the Palo Volador, in which the Indians fly around a high pole in the central plaza, suspended by nothing more than a rope. We invite you to come and celebrate these festivities.