WHEN TO GO: DECEMBER
In the small market town of Chichicastenango, the Festival of Saint Thomas is held in December each year. Although relatively unknown by tourists this is arguably the most colourful event not only in Guatemala, but in the whole of Central America. Witness thousands of ladinos (Guatemala’s highland Indians) don traditional costumes and celebrate with music, firecrackers and Mayan maypole dancing.
Happy New Year!
Millions of people from all walks of life meet on the beach in Copacabana to greet the New Year everyone traditionally dresses in white but add accessories in different colours. Red is good to attract romance, yellow is for prosperity, green for good health, black may be fashionable but is a no no. Lilys are brought to sacrifice to Yemanja; Godess of the Sea and hopefully in return you get your three wishes. At midnight marvel at the spectacular fireworks display and the answering display from the favelas then move with the crowd from Copacabana beach to Ipanema.
I'm at the centre of the world ma!
In marked contradiction to most of the big celebrations where countries celebrate their independence, Quito celebrates the founding of the city by the Spanish. Parties are held throughout the city with bullfights, parades, sports events, wooden car races, tournaments, beauty contests and dances. No trip to Quito is complete without marking the fact you are at the centre of the world with a visit to the Equator line. The placing for official musuem and ceremonial line was unfortunately miscalculated by several hundred metres and there is another museum at the true line, both are worth a visit. Just a short journey from Quito is the town of Mindo in the beautiful cloud forest home to numerous species of butterflies and birds and for the more adventurous thousands of metres of zip lines.