Cuenca’s holidays bring out the crowds for the crafts, music and food festivals, and are a great time to shop

Oct 25, 2012

Get ready for artisans, musicians, food and fireworks.

Until Sunday, Nov. 4, Cuenca celebrates the 192nd anniverary of its independence from Spain. Although the nightly concerts and fireworks shows will make the most noise, the centerpiece of the celebration has always been the hundreds of artists and craftspersons who come to town to display and peddle their work in the art fairs.

Among participants are artisans from Cuenca’s sister cities, Cuzco, Peru and Havana, Cuba. The Cuzco contingent is usually the largest during the holidays, in part because of cultural ties between Cuenca and Cuzco dating to the Incan Empire. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the city of Tomebamba –today's Cuenca– was being built by the Incas as the empire's northern capital.

Among the crafts for sale are jewelry, leather work, textiles, pottery, wood carvings and sculpture.

Although most artisans are from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, half a dozen other Latin American countries will also be represented. 

The major crafts fair are at CIDAP (The Inter-American Folk Arts and Crafts Association) on Tres de Noviembre at the Escalinatas; Plazoleta del Farol on Doce de Abril just west of University of Cuenca; the Broken Bridge on Tres de Noviembre; Centro Chaguarchimbana on Calle de las Herrerias; and the Otorongo Plaza.

The holiday agenda, Viva Cuenca, lists more than 200 events scheduled
between now and the end of November. The agendas are available from
businesses and the iTur tourist office in El Centro, although they can
sometimes be hard to find. 

A word of caution to residents and would-be tourists who are unaware of the holidays: city hotels and restaurants will overloaded through Nov. 4.