* Jan 1 - New Years Day
* Dec 7 - Quema del Diablo (The Burning of the Devil)
* Mar/Apr - Holy Thursday / Friday / Easter Week
* Dec 24/25 - Christmas Eve/Day
* Sep 15 - Independence Day
* Nov 1 - All Saints Day
* Dec 31 - New Years Eve
Here you will
find the most complete list of the fiestas of Guatemala anywhere
on the web. Over 370 fiestas are listed in each of two lists.
One list is organized by department and town. The second list is
organized by date. If you want to know what is going on this
weekend or need to make plans to visit a fiesta then this list
is for you.
Here you will
also find general information about the fiestas of Guatemala as
well as the most complete list of more than sixty traditional
dances you will see plus a religious holiday date
calculator to find the dates of those fiestas which occur on
movable religious holidays. It is all here!
Alta Verapaz / Baja Verapaz /
Chimaltenango / Chiquimula /
El Progreso / Escuintla / Guatemala /
Huehuetenango / Izábal /
Jalapa / Jutiapa / Petén /
Quetzaltenango / Quiché /
Retalhuleu / Sacatepéquez /
San Marcos / Santa Rosa /
Suchipéquez / Totonicapán /
March / April - June / July - September /
October - December
know about fiestas:
El Boj - Most fiestas are
powered by liberal consumption of alcohol, mainly boj (also
known as guaro or venado). Guaro is "white lightning"
and is made from fermented and distilled sugar cane. Its quality
varies greatly with the better brands being quite agreeable but
invariably strong. It consumed straight from the bottle or mixed
with anything available. Like vodka, it mixes well with
Saq ik - Is a traditional
ceremonial meal served at many fiestas. Sak ik is a type of
turkey served in a white sauce.
Music - It is very common
to find the national instrument, the marimba at fiestas.
Marimbas vary greatly in size from smaller ones played by one or
two players up to enormous instruments played by 6 or 8 players.
You may also see harps, drums of various type and the chirimia.
Fireworks - Every fiesta,
procession, or celebration of any kind in Guatemala involves
fireworks. Strings of firecrackers are a constant backdrop to
all celebrations. Giant strings up to 20 feet long can be had in
most stores and at the critical moments during celebrations, the
fireworks unleashed can be most impressive (or frightening,
depending on one's point of view). Fiestas often include
"toritos" which are men who don a cage equipped with a
massive amount of fireworks which are set off while the
"torito" charges the crowd - a practice that is quite
exciting and not a little dangerous. Be careful!
Cofradias - This is a
tradition which is a melding of ancient Mayan religious
practices and Catholicism. Many towns have associated religious
icons usually representing saints. These icons are cared for by
a group of men (or women), a cofradia, elected annually by the
town's people. During fiestas, the cofradia solemnly marches the
religious icon through the streets in a parade, sometime with a
barrage of firecrackers paving the way in order to frighten away
All traditional fiestas include folk
dancing whose forms date back hundreds of years to the conquest
and beyond. Some of these dances are rooted in traditions brought
from Spain (which include Moorish and Iberian influences) others
are rooted in Mayan tradition, still others have African roots.
Dances you might see include:
(Variation of "Moros y Cristianos")
* "De Animalitos: El Tauro" (Animals, The Bull)
* "De Cortez" (About Cortez)
* "De Disfraces" or "De Gracejos" or
"Los Enmascarados" or "Los Feos" (Costumes,
Masquerade or Masks)
* "De Toritos" (The Little Bulls)
* "El Aba-i" (Garífuna)
* "El Africano" (The African)
* "El Aru Majani" (Garífuna)
* "El Costeño"
* "El Chico Mudo" (The Mute Boy)
* "El Chip Chip" (Garífuna)
* "El Convite" or "Convites"
* "El Gunjae" (Garífuna)
* "El Jungujugu" (Garífuna) – This dance
accompanied by drums and cymbals is rooted in Haitian Voodoo which
the Garífuna call Chugú.
* "El Mahani" (Garífuna)
* "El Negro" or "Los Negritos"
* "El Palo Volador" (The Flying Pole)
* "El Rey Fernando" (King Fernando)
* "El Sambai" (Garífuna)
* "El Venado" (The Deer)
* "El Yancunú" (Garífuna) – Is a dance about
war with men wearing masks of women’s faces. This dance
commemorates a battle which took place on Roatán during the 17th
* "Fierabrás" (Variation of "Moros y
* "Gigantes" (The Giants) – This dance honors
the major Mayan deities.
* "La Conquista" (The Conquest) – Commemorates
the conquest of the Indians by the Spanish and recalls the horrors
perpetrated on them by Pedro de Alvarado. Other characters include
the Quiché King Tecún Umán and his sons and daughters.
"La Invasión Extranjera" (The Foreign Invasion)
* "La Malincia" or "La Malinche"
* "La Paach" – This dance is dedicated to the
rituals of the "cult of maize" and is a harvest dance.
Among other things, it illustrates the belief that finding double
or triple ears of corn is a sign of good luck, like a 4-leaf
"La Punta" (Garífuna) – This dance invented by
the Garífuna is by far the most popular and is danced at
festivals and in discos throughout the western Caribbean. Punta is
a strenuous dance performed on the balls of the feet but with
practice it can be danced for hours.
* "La Región de los 24 Diablos" (The Land of the
* "La Serpiente" or "La Sierpe"
or "La Culebra" (The Snake)
* "La Shumba" (Garífuna)
* "La Vaca Mora" (a variation of "De
* "Las Siete Virtudes" (The Seven Virtues)
* "Los 12 Pares de Francia" (The twelve couples
from France) – This dance is a major production lasting up to 5
hours. The major characters are Charlemagne and a Moorish King.
The production is very dramatic with battles, deaths and
* "Los Abuelos" (The Grandparents)
* "Los Animalitos" (The Little Animals)
* "Los Cuatro Toros" (The Four Bulls)
* "Los Curunes"
* "Los Diablos" (The Devils)
* "Los Huehuechos"
* "Los Moros y La Conquista" (The Moors and the
* "Los Judios" (The Jews)
* "Los Mazates"
* "Los Mexicanos" (The Mexicans) – Dance based
on "De Toritos" covering the Mexican
influence in Guatemala.
* "Los Partideños"
* "Los Tinacos"
* "Los Tres Venados" (The Three Deer)
* "Los Tucunes" (a variation of "Los
* "Los Venados" (The Deer)
* "Las Flores" (The Flowers)
* "Maipoll" (Garífuna Maypole Dance, no longer
* "Moros y Cristianos" – One of the most common
traditional dances, performed in several forms and
under several names. It commemorates the triumph of the
Castillians over the Moors in 1462 when they finally expelled the
Arabs from Iberia. This dance has special significance for the
Indians because they would like to have done the same to the
Spanish invaders of Central America and imagine the dance as if it
were called "The Spaniards and the Indians".
* "Paach" Is a dance about corn (maize)
* "Pororó" (Garífuna dance no longer performed)
* "Rabinal Achí"
* "Rey Azarín"
* "Rey David" (King David)
* "Santa Catarina"
* "Tope de Mayo" (Indian Maypole Dance)
* "Tum Salajché" Surely, the most spectacular of
the dances is the Palo Volador in which men (usually fortified by
plenty of alcohol) climb a 100 foot wooden pole, tie themselves to
a rope attached to the top and wrapped around their body; Then
they jump, spinning to the ground...sometimes to their death.