Carnival weekend in Ecuador is an officially sanctioned 4-day weekend. Some years, the national government does not approve the days off until the last minute. Nevertheless, Ecuadorians would be aghast if those in power did not make some accommodation for this traditional event. In the last few years, many workers receive days off and then make up the time by working extra hours later in the year. All this is to inform you that even if you haven’t seen any official notification of a 4-day holiday, it will happen!
The actual day of Carnival takes place on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in the United States). It is part of a 4-day celebration in Ecuador. In fact, most Carnival events occur on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. On Tuesday, everyone is either recovering or driving home after a long weekend of partying!
Not all communities celebrate Carnival. Those that do tend to be located in the Sierra, especially in the province of Chimborazo.
Ecuadorians that don’t celebrate the religious holiday almost always find a reason to take vacation for Carnival Weekend. For that reason, resort towns on the coast are booked for weeks, if not months, in advance. In recent years, tourist destinations in the Sierra and the Oriente have started offering discounts to attract more visitors away from the beaches.
When looking for information online, be sure to search for Carnaval with an A instead of Carnival with an I. The former is the Spanish spelling. If you are looking for special offers, try the key search words: “Carnaval ofertas (name of destination) (year)” and see what shows up!
Your best information on any local event will be found on social media and local guides. If you would like to contact one of the later, check out our list of guides or send us a note with the location you would like to visit. We’ll see what we can do to help you out!
Instead of celebrating Carnival, some indigenous communities use this time to celebrate the Spring Solstice, even though it may occur many weeks in advance of March 20th. This ancient celebration is often tied to Mushak Nina, the celebration of the Andean New Year. Check out these articles to learn more:
To learn more about other festivals during the year, check out: