Desfile de Bufos, March
Semana Santa, April
Día de Todos los Santos, November
Garifuna Day, November
Quema del Diablo, December
Generally cooler temperatures make this a good time to be traveling. In the first couple of weeks you’re bound to meet plenty of Guatemalan families taking advantage of school holidays.
El Cristo Negro de Esquipulas
Pilgrims in their thousands flock to the town of Esquipulas in the days leading up to January 15 to pay homage to the Black Christ.
In the highly traditional Baja Verapaz town of Rabinal, pre-Colombian dances are performed during the Fiesta de San Pedro from the 19th to the 25th.
The European spring break sees a mini high season – nothing books out, but things start to get a little more lively.
Desfile de Bufos (The Parade of Fools)
On the Friday before Good Friday, this 100+ year-old tradition sees thousands of hooded Guatemala City university students take to the streets in floats and costumes to mock the government.
On average the warmest month. All the foreigners want to be in Antigua and all the Guatemalans want to be at the beach – accommodations for both places should be booked well in advance.
While there are Easter processions all over the country, the most atmospheric are in Antigua and the most elaborate floats are in Guatemala City.
The semi-official start of the rainy season (although this is starting to vary wildly) sees afternoon showers across the country until the end of October (or thereabouts).
Día del Trabajo (Labor Day)
On the first day of May there are celebrations, parades and protests throughout the country, the largest being in Guatemala City.
The end of the US college year sees a large influx of students arriving to study Spanish, volunteer and travel. The rainy season continues.
Turtle Nesting Season
Running until November, the main nesting season on the Pacific coast sees thousands of turtles come ashore to lay eggs. The best place to spot them is around Monterrico.
The college break continues, with many Spanish students finishing their studies and starting to travel. This is the depths of the rainy season, with the most rain and least sunshine.
Fiesta de Cubulco
This small town is one of the few places left in the country to keep the Palo Volador (literally, 'flying pole') tradition alive. It happens on the last day of its five-day festival, on July 25.
In the last week of July Cobán hosts this festival that showcases pre-Colombian traditions, including Maya ceremonies, traditional handicrafts, and plenty of music and dance.
Crowds start to thin out as college students return home. Often in this month there is a phenomenon called the canicula (dog days in English), which sees a warm, sunny break in the rains.
Fiesta de la Virgen de la Asunción
Peaking on August 15, this fiesta is celebrated with folk dances and parades in Sololá, Guatemala City and Jocotenango.
Temperatures start to cool and rains begin to ease up. This is the start of the real low season, and if you’re into haggling on accommodations, now’s a good time to start.
September 15 marks Guatemala’s anniversary of independence. There are celebrations all over the country, but because it coincides with Quetzaltenango’s week-long festival, you’ll find the most activity there, with loads of concerts and other cultural activities.
As the rains peter out, this month marks the start of volcano-trekking season, with spectacular cloud formations until mid-November.
Fiesta de San José Petén
On the night of the 31st a very curious ceremony takes place, as one of three skulls (thought to be of the village’s founding fathers) is removed from the town church and paraded through this small town.
This is the peak of the volcano-trekking season, which runs until the end of January, with clear skies and cool, moderate temperatures.
Día de Todos los Santos
All Saint's Day (November 1) is celebrated with particular rigor in Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango, where celebrations include the flying of huge, technicolor kites.
Todos Santos Cuchumatán
On All Saints Day, this tiny highlands town hosts drunken horse races through the main streets. Some love it, others find it a rather disturbing spectacle.
The Garifuna enclave of Lívingston celebrates its heritage with live music, dancing, parades, traditional food and other lively celebrations.
Seriously chilly temperatures hit the highlands – bring warm clothes or plan on buying some here. There’s a little spike in vacationing Guatemalans, but most wait until after Christmas before they start traveling.
The misty hill country around Cobán makes for a perfect orchid habitat and this annual festival, held in the first week of December, showcases the variety of species that can be found in the area.
Quema del Diablo
All over the country (but particularly in the highlands) people haul their trash out into the street on December 7 and make huge bonfires while men dressed as devils run and dance amid the smoke.
From mid-December until the end of May, humpback and sperm whales can be seen migrating along the Pacific coast.