Cuenca’s Christmas festivities begin in earnest tonight with the Festival de Luces (festival of lights) on Santo Domingo Plazeta, in the historic district. More than 7,000 lanterns will be lit in the annual celebration honoring the coronation of the Virgen Morenica del Rosario. The ceremony, which has been held annually since 1928, begins between 6 and 7.
In addition to the lighting of the lanterns, the event will feature a program of music and dance, featuring the Santa Catalina choir and the Polyphonic Quintet.
Santo Domingo Plazeta is located in front of the Iglesia Santo Domingo on Calle Gran Colombia at General Torres.
The city of Cuenca finished installing its Christmas decorations on Wednesday, including more than 300,000 lights. Among the notable decorated areas are the Rio Tomebamba adjacent to the Baranco, the streets of the historic district and many city plazas.
On Tuesday, the giant artificial Christmas tree in Otorongo Plaza was illuminated during the inauguration of the novena season. Catholic novenas typically begin nine days before Christmas but, according to Iván Genovés, director of Fundacíon Iluminar, Cuencanos often begin the ceremonies early. Also on Tuesday, the nativity scene at the San Blas Artisanal Portal opened to the public.
Cuenca’s Pase del Niño neighborhood parades also begin this week, joining together December 24 for the grand parade through El Centro.