The coincidence of Cuenca’s foundation celebration and Semana Santa has created one of the year’s busiest holiday weekends. Beginning Thursday, festivities include crafts shows, food festivals, choral, symophonic and rock concerts, circus performances and bull fights.
Thursday night concluded a week of musical events, including the second performance of Mozart's Requiem in the old cathedral and several choral performances in El Centro churches. It was also the "Night of the Seven Churches," when thousands of Cuencanos walk from church to church, symbolizing visitation of the seven stations of the Christian cross.
From Friday through Sunday, several crafts fairs offer wares not only from artisans from Cuenca, but also from Colombia, Peru and other areas of Ecuador. The largest, the Otorongo fair, has reolocated to the Tomebamba greenway, opposite Parque del la Madre, due to construction at Otorongo Plaza. Other crafts fairs and sales are being held at Chaguarchimbana, in Casa Paul Rivet; at Totoracocha sports complex; and at the San Roque church plaza on Av. Loja, just west of the University of Cuenca.
The fair opposite Parque de la Madre features work by Cuencano craftspeople; at Chaguarchimbana, by Saragurans and Cotacachans; at Totoracocha, by Colombians and Ecuadorians of the northern Andes; at San Roque, by Peruvians (mostly selling Cusco textile products).
Friday night’s highlight is a rock concert at Fiesta El Vergel, Jaime Orquera providing the entertainment.
Two circuses are in performances, one for children, Cirque de Patito Feo, at the Totoracocha sport complex, complete with kiddie rides; and another on the Rio Yanuncay at Av. Las Americas.
On Saturday, the reburbished Ninth of October mercado hosts musical groups Kandela y Son and Eclipse Solar, a troupe of Ecuadorian comedians and organized children’s games. The mercado will host an all-day food fair.
For bullfight aficiandos, the Fiesta de Toros begins at noon in the Plaza de Toros, just off Av. Unidad Nacional. The bullfights are bloodless, by the way.
Sunday is highlighted by a rock concert beginning at 5 p.m. at Alejandro Serrano stadium. Groups in concernt include Guanaco, Mantra, Bajos Suenos, Radio Fantasma, Pancho Piedra and Basca.
Sources: El Tiempo and El Mercurio; photo: crafts vendors in Casa Paul Rivet, Chaguarchimbana, and across from Parque de la Madre.