Like all other South Americans, Ecuadorians love to have a party and so major holiday in Ecuador are normally very colourful events, with the whole country taking time off to celebrate. Also, as a predominately Roman Catholic country, Ecuador’s holidays and festivals normally coincide with religious festivals.
The following, then, are some of the major events in Ecuador to look out for:
Like elsewhere in the world, events in Ecuador kick-off in January, with the major events and holidays being center on New Year’s Day and Epiphany (or Three Kings’ Day). Although, strictly speaking, Epiphany does not warrant a national holiday, with over 90% of the population in Ecuador being Roman Catholic, Epiphany (6 January) is considered one of the major events in Ecuador’s calendar.
Following on from the unofficial Ecuador holidays celebrating Epiphany, the next of the major events in Ecuador is National Community Spirit Day (27 February), which was originally held in remembrance of the Tarqui Battle, but these days is a national holiday celebrating civic activities and events.
Simply put, March/April time is possible the biggest time of the year for Ecuador holidays and festivals. Events and holidays during this period are kicked-off with Carnival, which, as a major event in Ecuador, is always celebrated the weekend prior to Ash Wednesday. Events and holidays during, and following, Carnival usually means that Ecuador holidays for the whole week following Carnival, which itself is a long-weekend, as Carnival is quickly followed by one of the biggest events in Ecuador - Easter Week.
With such a large number of Roman Catholics, Easter Week produces an endless selection of religious events and holidays. Although Holy Saturday is technically the only national public holiday during this period, as mentioned, most Ecuadorians tend to take the entire week off. This time is also a popular time for Ecuadorians to do some domestic travel - so expect the whole country to come to a standstill during this traditional time of Ecuador holidays and festivals! Although there are a number of provincial events and holidays following Easter Week, the next major event in Ecuador’s calendar is 10 August - Independence Day (Fiesta Civiva Nacional). This Ecuadorian holiday usually includes military parades and civic events held around the country.
After August, the next national event is not until 9 October – when events in Ecuador turn to Guayaquil's Independence Day. Although 9 October may not be considered a major item in Ecuador holidays and festivals in its own right, it is quickly followed by Columbus Day (12 October), one of the many major events in Ecuador and South America celebrating the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus first arrived on this continent.
November then sees a re-emergence of Ecuador holidays and festivals centering on religious issues with All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day (1 and 2). Although, strictly speaking, only the 2nd is considered a major event in Ecuador, i.e. a national holiday, with the 3rd being Cuenca Independence Day, this is once again a time of the year when many of Ecuador’s holidays and festivals combine to provide a fiesta time! However, keep in mind, as with all Ecuador events, shops are likely to be closed during this time.
Finally, in December the major events in Ecuador turn to the more traditional festivals and holidays that we are used to in the west, i.e. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, both traditionally national holidays, and New Year (or Year’s End as this major event in Ecuador is known). New Year is a very important celebration in Ecuador, running from 28 thru to 31, with the whole nation bracing itself for the Ecuador New Year by burning human figurines in the streets. Again, a great time for Ecuador holidays and festivals to combine into one long holiday – which is rather the theme of most Ecuador holidays and festivals: Ecuador holidays tend to occur at the same time, for a period of a couple of days, when the whole country takes time off to celebrate the events and holidays in question.