The celebration of Cuenca’s 195th anniversary of independence from Spain begins next week and officials are expecting 100,000 tourists, filling hotel rooms to capacity. Although November 2 is the official national holiday, activities begin by Thursday, October. 29 and continue through Tuesday, November 3.
Cuenca’s holidays are extended by the annual Day of the Dead observance. October 30 is a national holiday although the observance at the city’s cemeteries is Saturday and Sunday, October 31 and November 1.
Although the parades, dances, fireworks displays, food fairs, sporting events and nightly concerts created the most noise, the centerpiece of the celebration has always been the hundreds of artists and craftspersons from Cuenca and around South America, who display and peddle their work in the art fairs.
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. The event includes artists from a dozen Latin American countries, in addition to Ecuador.
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.
In all, there will be more than 300 events and displays during the festival.
The Day of the Dead observance includes events at all of the city’s cemeteries, including memorial services. It is customary for families to spend several hours during the weekend visiting the graves of family members and friends. There will food and crafts vendors at the cemeteries to serve the 100,000+ expected for the observance.
50,000 Cuenca holiday agendas printed
The city of Cuenca has distributed 50,000 agendas ahead of the holidays. According to Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, the agenda will provide information about more than 300 events scheduled from October 29 to November 3, as well of other events throughout the month of November.
To keep up with events, pick up a copy of the holiday agenda at local restaurants and hotels. It’s also available at the iTur office on Parque Calderon.