For most Cuencanos, the city’s independence is the biggest celebration of the year. Not only does it attract the largest crowds but it lasts the longest. This year, the holidays begin officially on Wednesday, November 1 and wrap up Sunday, November 5.
The celebration of Cuenca’s 197th anniversary of independence from Spain will attract crowds of more than 130,000, both locals and tourists, including many foreigners.
Although the holidays include parades, including the kick-off parade October 31 on Av. Loja, dances, fireworks displays, food fairs, sporting events and nightly concerts, the centerpiece are the craft shows which include artisans from Cuenca, Ecuador and around South America, who display and peddle their work in more than a dozen locations.
The biggest and most impressive fair is at CIDAP (Inter-American Folk Arts and Crafts Association) on Tres de Noviembre at the Escalinatas, which will fill the CIDAP courtyard and cover the banks of the Tomebamba River from the base of Calle Hermano Miguel to the bridge at Calle Benigno Malo.
According to CIDAP officials, several bulk buyers of crafts from Europe and North America will attend this year’s craft fairs for the first time. “These are people representing large organizations and companies and they are coming because they know that this is one of the largest crafts show in the world,” says Maria Fernandez, CIDAP board member. “Of course there will also be thousands of people buying for their personal collections.”
Other crafts fairs are at Plazoleta del Farol on Doce de Abril just west of University of Cuenca; the Broken Bridge on Tres de Noviembre; Santo Domingo Plaza; Esquina de las Artes; Parque de la Madre; Otorongo Plaza; Rotary Market; Centro Chaguarchimbana on Calle de las Herrerias; and the Otorongo Plaza.
For the second time, an international food festival sponsored by the Cuenca tourism office.
In all, there will be more than 350 events and displays during the festival. The city is printing 50,000 holiday agendas that will be available at iTur offices in El Centro.
On Tuesday, city crews began festooning the streets of the historic district with city flags.