Carnaval in Cuenca gets underway tonight with the Compadres and Comadres celebration in San Francisco Plaza. The action begins at 6 with food, dance and music honoring the city’s ancient and modern traditions. Later, the plaza and nearby Parque Calderon will erupt in mass foam fights as celebrants attack each other with aerosol foam cannisters.
Organizers are requesting that the crowd delay the foaming until after the opening events and stage shows. “We are asking for a peaceful beginning to the evening to celebrate our cultural heritage in the Tayta Carnival tradition,” says María Angélica León, director of the Cuenca Tourism Foundation. “We will celebrate our Cañari and Inca roots with gastronomy, costumes, dance and music.”
Tonight’s Compadres and Comadres will be the first held in the renovated San Francisco Plaza, relocating from Parque Calderon. “We are excited about the new location and the fact it offers a large open area for the activities,” says León. “Because of its garden areas, Parque Calderon restricted the ability for dance and music presentations. San Francisco Plaza can also accommodate overflow crowds on the Padre Aguirre pedestrian mall.”
To maintain order, León says there will be more law enforcement officers assigned to the event than in previous years. “We want to avoid the chaos and limit alcohol consumption, which has been a problem in the past,” she said. “We hope to rescue the Tayta traditions of the past.”
In recent years, Compadres and Comadres has attracted crowds of 10,000, and more, to Parque Calderon, according to the tourism office and organizers are expecting similar numbers Thursday night.
León expects the foam fights to spill over to Parque Calderon, two blocks away.
Saturday will be another big day for Carnaval events, with the Voz del Carnaval parade beginning at 9 a.m. from the San Blas Plaza, proceeding west on Simon Bolivar. The Amistad Club, Journalists Union of Azuay and the city of Cuenca, say that this year’s parade will be the biggest ever.
At noon Saturday, the action moves to Plaza El Otorongo for the annual fig festival which includes a food fair and stage shows.
In the afternoon, there will be a free concert at Parque de la Libertad with the artists Fulanito, El Symbol and the band I love 80s and 90s.
In addition to Cuenca, other Carnaval celebrations are planned for Paute, Gualaceo, Girón, Nabón, San Felipe de Oña, Pucará as well as in other towns and villages.