Cuenca’s independence holiday and Day of the Dead combine for the biggest celebration of the year
The celebration of Cuenca’s 196th anniversary of independence from Spain begins next week and officials are expecting more than 100,000 tourists. Although November 3 is the official national holiday for the city, activities will run through Sunday, November 6.
Cuenca’s holidays are extended by the annual Day of the Dead observance, November 2.
Although the holidays include parades, dances, fireworks displays, food fairs, sporting events and nightly concerts, the centerpiece of the celebration 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.
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.
A major addition to this year’s holidays, is an international good festival sponsored by the Cuenca tourism office.
In all, there will be more than 350 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 and cleaning the graves of family members and friends. There will food and crafts vendors at the cemeteries to serve the 125,000 expected to show up.
Events at the Municipal Cemetery, the city’s largest, begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday, November 1, with a mass, and continue with an orchestral concert at 6 p.m. followed by celebration of the Eucharist.
The city is distributing 50,000 holiday agendas ahead of the celebration. As usual, they can be hard to get as fulfillment does not keep up with demand.
When they are in stock, your can pick up a copy at local restaurants and hotels as well as at the iTur office on Parque Calderon and other locations in the city.