During the first days of September, for the last 150 years, we have celebrated Fiestas de Guápulo!
The current president of Guápulo, Jaime Pardo, tells us what to expect for this year’s festivities starting September 1st.
Sunday, September 1
The festivities will commence with novenas (demonstrating devotion through prayer) to Our Lady of Guápulo, our commemoration to the Virgen de Guadalupe.
Guapuleños thank the virgin for being alive and ask of her to guard them, to keep them healthy and employed.
Fun fact: the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was sculpted by artist Diego Robles, and polychromed by painter Luis de Rivera.
The next few days are days of prayer and days when we remind ourselves that we have to be grateful to the virgin, who has given us so much.
Thursday, September 5
Then, on September 5th, from around 8 pm, traditional games begin in the narrow cobblestone streets of Guápulo. One of the main events is the wooden cars race. Competitors spend time building their own cars and will leave everything behind to get to the endpoint, with the faith that their creation will last.
Friday, September 6
Friday, September 6 is the cultural night! Live music including a town band, popular dance and a small artisanal fair take the central plaza. Residents and special guests participate.
Saturday, September 7
Sunny Guápulo mornings are for kids! On Saturday, organizers have recreated a space for kids and their families to enjoy a peaceful and entertaining ambiance. The UPC of Guápulo (Community Police Unit) has prepared a special show with their canines, to brighten up a lot of kids’ faces!
Then, with the afternoon arrives the “visperas” of the Guápulo celebrations. Festivities begin with fireworks and “vacas locas” or “mad cows” that are set on fire displaying their intricate design and a folklore. Besides, a food court will be set up around the plaza, to welcome the guests with local food (our faaavorite typical dishes) and the incomparable mulled wine and “canelazo” (made with naranjilla, cinnamon and a shot of puntas).
When the party starts, locals liven up the streets dressed as clowns, exotic animals, and even a few devils!
This year the party will last until 12 pm, due to security reasons. On previous years the party would extend until 2 am but the police feel it will be safer if we close it up earlier.
Sunday, September 8
On Sunday, September 8, the day begins with mass at 11:30 to celebrate the Holy Mass in honor of Virgen de Guadalupe. From the main church, a pilgrimage of 600-700 devotees begins towards Avenida de Los Conquistadores and back. During the procession, you’ll be able to spot several traditional characters such as the mad cows and the clowns, who have been part of this scene demonstrating the blend of religion and local culture.
The celebration concludes with the famous tradition of “the throwing of oranges” where grandparents, neighbors, kids, and friends, participate. Throwing oranges is a demonstration of gratefulness towards the virgin, for giving us fertility, and abundant harvests, among them the orange orchards that bordered the streams of Guápulo. Slopes were also decorated with beautiful hydrangeas! Locals begin the ceremony by throwing oranges to the crowd from the Guápulo viewpoint until they reach the main plaza, where the game ends with a popular dance. Not a bad Sunday…. at all!
An Invitation to the younger generations!
“We want young people to get involved, to take this part of the culture into their hands and preserve the festivities. We want them to carry on with the traditions that we (older generations) cherish so much” says Jaime.
“We would love to have young locals learn our history and become proper guides of such a magnificent and charming part of Quito. To learn how Guapulo was formed, where the first chapel was built, etc. and share this with national and international tourists.”
Overall, Fiestas de Guápulo are joyful days, days when we remember that our traditions are part of who we are, that our identity is something we must always carry and that celebrating our culture brings us all together! Even if you weren’t born in Guápulo, or even Ecuador, this environment of happiness, celebration, music, dancing, games, colors, and food is something special to be a part of.