Carnival is an amazingly fun, colorful, exuberant holiday to celebrate excess and abundance before the beginning of Catholic Lent. Carnival also celebrate the indigenous holiday of Paucar Huatay which honors the end of the solar year. This holiday is celebrated in Ecuador with a 4-day weekend, parades, brightly colored clothing & masks, festivals and street wars with water balloons & water guns. If you want to experience a spectacular and authentic Carnival, consider visiting the city of Ambato. The extremely popular Ambato Carnival grows more spectacular every year. The festival includes an enormous parade of flower floats and over eighty traditional dance groups that travel around the city on Fat Tuesday. The Ambato Festival of Fruits and Flowers is the most famous Carnival celebration, initiated in 1950 to commemorate the region’s abundant harvest of apples, pears, and plums and the many beautiful varieties of flowers that bloom this time of year. The city also has a traditional music festival and a food festival including an immense bread blessing that takes place just outside the Ambato cathedral.
Guaranda, the capital of the Bolivar province, also offers a memorable Carnival. Guaranda names a Taita (Father) of the Carnaval and selects a Carnival Queen to lead the festivities. These two also lead the parade which consist of 40 elaborate floats, numerous bands, and traditional dance groups. The people of Guaranda take to the streets throwing flour, water, and eggs at each other to flaunt abundance. They may also spray foam at passersby who should be ready to spray back. Another exciting part of Guaranda’s Carnival, which sets it apart from other Carnivals in Ecuador is its “Pájaro Azul.” Carnival hosts walk around offering festival goers a sip of this locally made 30 proof rum laced with essence of orange and chicken broth!