Cuenca’s cultural calendar is a veritable moveable feast of shows, exhibits, concerts and festivals

Aug 8, 2009

Reporting on his visit to Cuenca last year, Times of London travel writer Joshua Wellesey remarked, “I think I can safely claim that this charming little city has more culture per square inch than any place in the Western Hemisphere.”

One of Wellesey´s notable Cuenca experiences was attending a performance by the Cuban National Ballet in the Banco Central Theater. “I had paid a hundred pounds last year to see the same troupe in London. Here it was free and I had to choose between the ballet and a concert by an excellent Argentinean choir in the Old Cathedral.”

Cuenca has long been known for its cultural heritage but its 1999 designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site provided funds to expand the tradition.

Here’s a sampling of some regularly scheduled events in Cuenca.

  • Bienal Internacional de Pintura: The largest art exhibit and juried contest in Latin America is held every other year from April to May.
  • Movies Proyections: On Tuesdays, the Alianza Francesa presents international documentaries in its new theatre, Sala de video Pumapungo, at Paseo Tres de Noviebre, just below the Banco Central museum.
  • Lunes de Pelicula: On Mondays, Restaurante Akellarre in Hotel Inca Real, shows mostly foreign films tied to a monthly theme. Some months focus on particular directors while others highlight works from different countries.
  • Festival Annual de Cine de la Diferencia: This annual film festival focuses on the international gay culture.
  • Festival Annual de Jazz en Plazas & Parques: A relatively recent addition, the jazz festivals features several outdoor venues and a variety of performers.
  • Festival de la Madre Tierra: Earth Day even features music, plays and speeches.
  • Bienal de Teatro: In conjunction with the art bienal, city theaters feature local and international presentations.
  • Mirada Joven: Event is the top Ecuadorian exhibition of the high school art, writing and theater.
  • Encuentro de Lengua y Literatura Alfonso Carrasco: Poets from around the world present their latest work.
  • Feria Artesanales: Craftsmen from Latin America gather at the CIDAP museum every April for an arts and crafts fair. The event spills over into several nearby locations.

The periods of November and December, and again, from March to May are particularly busy, coinciding with Cuenca’s foundation and independence celebrations. Besides a heavy dose of the arts, there are lots of fireworks and street theater.

For information and events calendars, try these internet resources.

www.cuencaecuador.com.ec (tourist site is in English and Spanish)
www.municipalidadcuenca.gov.ec (official government site)
www.elmercurio.com.ec/web/titulares.php (daily newspaper)

Other sources of information are museums, galleries and the iTur office opposite Calderon Park. Also, keep an eye out for fliers and posters pasted just about anywhere downtown.

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