Semana Santa, March
Inti Raymi, June
Fiesta de la Mamá Negra, September
Fiestas de Quito, December
Cooler, wetter days are common in Quito and the highlands, while dry, sunny skies rule the Oriente. Blazing sunshine mixed with heavy downpours is common along the coast.
Held during the last few days before Ash Wednesday, Carnaval is celebrated with water fights – sometimes dousing passers-by with all manner of suspect liquids. Guaranda is famous for its Carnaval, with dances and parades.
Fiesta de Frutas y Flores
Held in Ambato, the fruit and flower festival coincides with Carnaval and features fruit and flower shows, bullfights, parades and late-night dancing in the streets. Unlike in other parts of Ecuador, water-throwing here is banned.
The highlands’ rainy season is still in full swing (running roughly from October to May), but March is a fine time to visit to beat the crowds. Expect plenty of sun in the Oriente, and storms and sunshine along the coast.
Fiesta del Durazno
In the southern highlands, the small village of Gualaceo showcases one of its finest fruits – the peach – during an annual harvest festival on March 4. You'll find flowers, crafts and live music.
Beginning the week before Easter Sunday (in late March or early April), Semana Santa (Holy Week) is celebrated with religious processions throughout Ecuador. The Good Friday procession in Quito, with its hooded, purple-robed penitents, is particularly colorful.
The highlands continue to have the rainy season pattern of morning sunshine and afternoon showers; the Oriente and coast remain generally sunny but with periodic rainstorms.
Founding Day, Cuenca
The anniversary of Cuenca’s founding runs over several days near April 12 and is one of the biggest events in the southern highlands. Locals celebrate with live bands, parades and elaborate fireworks-laced floats, while food stalls along the river draw daytime crowds.
Independence Battle of Tapi
Riobamba’s biggest night out, April 21, revolves around the historic 1822 battle. Expect an agricultural fair, with the usual highland events: street parades, dancing and plenty of traditional food and drink.
The highlands head toward the dry season with fewer showers and sunnier days, while rain picks up in the Oriente. In the Galápagos, the warm and wet season (January to June) prevails, with warmer days and periodic showers.
Held during the last week in May in Macas, the Chonta Festival is the most important Shuar celebration of the year. It culminates in a dance to help ferment the chicha (a fermented corn or yuca drink).
This religious feast day combines with a traditional harvest fiesta in many highland towns, and features processions and street dancing. Particularly good fests are in Cuenca and Salasaca. It takes place in late May or early June.
The highlands’ dry season coincides with Ecuador’s peak season, when more North Americans visit the country. It’s generally rainy in the Oriente, and cool and dry in the Galápagos (with rougher seas through August).
This millennia-old indigenous celebration of the summer solstice and harvest is celebrated throughout the northern highlands, including Otavalo, where it is combined with celebrations of St John the Baptist (on June 24) and Saints Peter and Paul (on June 29).
Clear, sunny highland skies make this an excellent time to visit, while rain is more prevalent in the Oriente. The Galápagos and the coast remain dry and cool (though sometimes overcast).
Founding of Guayaquil
Street dancing, fireworks and processions are all part of the celebration on the nights leading up to the anniversary of Guayaquil’s founding on July 25. Along with the national holiday on July 24 (Simón Bolívar’s birthday), the city closes down and celebrates with abandon.
It’s still warm and dry in the sierra, while the Oriente sees a brief respite from the heavy rains. It’s a busier time to visit, with holidaying North American and European visitors.
La Virgen del Cisne
In the southern highlands, thousands of pilgrims take part each year on August 15 in the extraordinary 70km procession to Loja carrying the Virgen del Cisne (Virgin of the Swan).
Fiestas de San Lorenzo
Head to the north Afro-Ecuadorian outpost of San Lorenzo to shake your money maker to the tribal beats of marimba and salsa. It happens on August 10.
The highlands remain sunny and clear, while a mix of rain and heat marks the Oriente. September is a lively time to visit, with important traditional fests under way.
Fiesta del Yamor
Imbabura province’s biggest festival celebrates the fall equinox and Colla Raimi (festival of the moon) with bullfights, dancing, cockfights, partying, feasts and lots of yamor (a nonalcoholic drink made from seven varieties of corn).
Feria Mundial del Banano
In the third week of September, Machala celebrates its favorite yellow fruit with music, parades and fireworks. One of the biggest events is a beauty pageant to select the Reina del Banano (the Banana Queen).
Fiesta de la Mamá Negra
Latacunga hosts one of the highlands’ most famous celebrations, in honor of La Virgen de las Mercedes. La Mamá Negra, played by a man dressed as a black woman, pays tribute to the 19th-century liberation of African slaves. There is a second celebration in early November.
You'll find fewer tourists and slightly lower prices in October. The seas are rougher at this time in the Galápagos; but it also means you can sometimes score good deals.
This massive holiday on October 9 fetes Guayaquil's 1820 declaration of independence from Spain; it's a festive time to be in the tropical city. Folks flood the center for parades, concerts, street parties and fireworks.
The Galapagos and Guayaquil stay hot, but it is rainy in Quito and the Amazon.
All Souls Day
This November 2 Catholic holiday, following All Saints Day, is a major event in the church calendar and is marked by visits and offerings at the cemetery.
Despite the cooler temperatures and rainier skies in the highlands, December to mid-January brings a fair number of holidaying North Americans and Europeans to Ecuador.
Fiestas de Quito
Quito’s biggest bash is a much-anticipated event, with bullfights, parades and street dances throughout the first week of December. Open-air stages all across town fill the capital with music.
Fiesta de Baños
December 16 is Baños' best-loved day for party-minded folk. An assortment of street fests, concerts and abundant eating and drinking mark the event.
Parades and dances starting on December 28 culminate on New Year’s Eve with the burning of life-size effigies in the streets, plus fireworks. You’ll see the most celebrating in Quito and Guayaquil (particularly along the Malecón).