How to celebrate Carnival in Ecuador – Fiesta Mayor in Guaranda

It’s that time of the year again – Carnival is being celebrated all around the world! Ecuador of course takes part in this spectacular event as well, with many own traditions during these festivities. Although carnival is celebrated throughout the country, there is one town which draws special attention, namely Guaranda. Guaranda is situated in the heart of Ecuador and simultaneously represents the capital of the province Bolivar. With roughly 24.000 inhabitants, this cute little town transforms into a major party hub once a year during Carnival. And this is what happens:



Guaranda is especially famous for its cultural expression in the form of its “Fiesta Mayor” which takes place during the carnival period and is recognised as intangible heritage of Ecuador since 31 October 2002. Then, Guaranda becomes one of the most visited towns in Ecuador by local as well as foreign visitors. Fiesta Mayor displays a mixture of traditional dances and carnival clubs with many activities taking place outside in the streets such as games including water, eggs, paper streamers and carioca (type of foam used during carnival). Typically, this event is accompanied by traditional food, for example Fritadas or potatoes with guinea pig (yes, traditional Ecuadorian dish!) and the strong liquor called Pájaro Azul (“blue bird”).  Besides the carnival festival, the extensive and delicious gastronomy which can be enjoyed in Guaranda during those days is a major attraction to visitors.


Similar to other festivities in the region, Fiesta Mayor represents a combination of catholic as well as Incan traditions which unites both cultures, the indigenous as well as the mixed-European one. This festival takes places during the three days before the beginning of the religious fasting period in advance of Eastern. From the indigenous perspective, this festival is related to fertility of the land which explains the excessive use of water during those days. Anyways, the festival represents a great mixture of ancient and new traditions, from Andean histories and European values, and thus displays a unique opportunity to experience Ecuador’s diverse culture in person!


There are always new ways to celebrate the fifth season of the year, yet why not try traditional and celebrate it in Ecuador this year? Why not Guaranda? Don’t miss the greatest blast of the year and be there!


Written by: Kerstin Kraus


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