Antigua Guatemala Festivals, Celebrations and Important Dates

Whether it’s the solemnity of Holy Week,  the lively hues of the Flower Festival or the buzzing excitement of the fiestas patronales Antigua’s festivals and cultural celebrations offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Guatemalan heritage. Here’s your guide to the most important festivals in Antigua, complete with dates and what to expect.

Antigua Guatemala cathedral decorated for la feria patronal.
Antigua Guatemala cathedral decorated for la fiesta patronal.

I’ve also included a list of celebrations and fiestas patronales in some the towns surrounding Antigua Guatemala. If you are looking for something truly unique and authentic to do while visiting Antigua Guatemala attending one of these festivals and witnessing the processions, folkloric dances and other cultural events is a once in a lifetime experience. 

Festivals and Celebrations in Antigua Guatemala

Nestled among towering volcanoes, the charming city of Antigua Guatemala is a treasure trove of colonial architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture, making it a one of the best things to do in Guatemala. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers more than just picturesque plazas and stunning colonial ruins. A wide array of traditional festivals and cultural celebrations breathe life into its cobblestone streets. Experiencing these colorful events in Antigua is not just about witnessing the festivities; it’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, understanding Guatemala’s heritage, and creating memories you will not forget. Whether it’s the solemn processions of Semana Santa, the vibrant kites of the Giant Kite Festival, the Fiesta Patronal or the Posadas each celebration offers a unique glimpse into the heart of Guatemala’s culture and Mayan heritage.

Baile de los Venados folkloric dance in Antigua Guatemala
Baile de los Venados folkloric dance in Antigua Guatemala

Semana Santa (Holy Week)- March or April (changes)

The celebration of Semana Santa in Antigua is an event of profound religious and cultural significance, drawing visitors from all over the world. The city becomes a canvas for elaborate street carpets made of colored sawdust, flowers, and fruits, meticulously crafted by locals. These vibrant alfombras pave the way for solemn religious processions that wind through the streets, accompanied by traditional music and costumed figures. Semana Santa in Antigua is a deeply moving and visually stunning experience, reflecting the city’s strong Catholic faith and rich cultural heritage. The week-long festivities culminate on Easter Sunday, offering a spiritual journey and a feast for the senses.

Semana Santa processions in Antigua Guatemala
Semana Santa processions in Antigua Guatemala.

Fiesta Patronal in Antigua – July 25th

Antigua Guatemala celebrates its patron saint, Santiago Apóstol, with great fervor and joy. On July 25th, the city is abuzz with a mix of social, cultural, and sports events. The day is marked by an exhibition of local handicrafts, showcasing the artistic skills of Antigua’s artisans. A highlight of the celebration is the variety of folk dances, including ‘Convite’ or ‘Enmascarados’ and ‘Gigantes’ or ‘Cabezudos’, featuring large, oversized figures that dance through the streets. 

Convites or enmascarados folk dance form Guatemala
Convites or enmascarados folk dance form Guatemala

There is also a procession and a parade that crosses the Central Park, the These performances add a lively and festive air to the city, inviting locals and visitors alike to join in the celebration.

Procession during the Fiesta Patronal de Antigua Guatemala
Procession during the Fiesta Patronal de Antigua Guatemala

El Festival del Maíz (Corn Festival) – August

The Corn Festival in August is a celebration of Guatemala’s staple food – maize. This festival is a culinary delight, offering a range of corn-based dishes that showcase the diversity and richness of Guatemalan cuisine. Visitors can indulge in traditional dishes, enjoy live music, and participate in cultural activities. The festival also includes traditional dances and music, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. It’s a tribute to the agricultural heritage of the region and a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience the culinary traditions of Guatemala.

Independence Day Celebrations – September 15th

Guatemala’s Independence Day on September 15th is a national holiday marked with pride and patriotism. In Antigua, the day is celebrated with parades, music, and cultural events that reflect the country’s rich history and heritage. The streets are adorned with patriotic decorations, and the air is filled with the sounds of marimba music and festive celebrations. This day commemorates Guatemala’s independence from Spain and is an opportunity for locals and visitors to experience the country’s vibrant culture and national pride.

Independence Day parade in Antigua Guatemala and other important celebrations.

Giant Kite Display in Antigua Guatemala – November 12th (may change)

The Giant Kite Festival on All Saints’ Day is a visually stunning event held in Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez. Massive kites, some as large as several meters in diameter, are crafted from paper and bamboo and feature intricate designs and vibrant colors. These kites are flown in cemeteries as a homage to the departed. Once the All Saint’s Day celebrations are done the gian kites are transported to Antigua where they are displayed in Antigua’s Parque Central, adding a colorful and artistic touch to the city. 



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You can also take a day tour to the Sumpango Giant Kite Festival on November 1st and you can learn more about the Day of the Dead celebrations in Guatemala here

Festival de las Flores (Flower Festival) – November 16 &17 of 2024 (changes)

The Festival de las Flores transforms Antigua into a vibrant tapestry of colors and scents. This festival celebrates the beauty and cultural significance of flowers in Guatemalan tradition. The streets of Antigua are adorned with floral decorations, parades, and art installations, creating a magical atmosphere. Visitors can participate in workshops, enjoy concerts, and explore a flower market. The festival is a wonderful display of creativity and artistry, reflecting the city’s love for nature and beauty. You can learn more about Antigua Guatemala’s Festival de las Flores here.

Festival de las Flores en Antigua Guatemala

Christmas Celebrations – December

 Antigua during December is a festive wonderland, illuminated by Christmas lights and adorned with nativity scenes. The city hosts a series of special events, including Posadas, traditional processional reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging. These celebrations offer a glimpse into the local customs and religious significance of Christmas in Guatemala. The festive atmosphere, combined with the city’s colonial charm, makes Antigua a delightful destination for holiday travelers.


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La Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil) – December 7th

 On December 7th, Antigua observes ‘La Quema del Diablo’, a unique tradition where effigies of the devil are burned to cleanse homes of evil spirits and prepare for the Christmas season. This event is both a cultural spectacle and a symbolic ritual, reflecting the blend of indigenous and Spanish traditions in Guatemala. The burning of the devil is an experience that showcases the local customs and beliefs, making it an intriguing event for visitors to witness.

piñata devils for Guatemala's Quema del Diablo
Street vendors selling devils and fireworks for la Quema del Diablo.

Festivals and Celebrations Near Antigua Guatemala

Exploring the small towns surrounding Antigua Guatemala offers a glimpse into authentic Guatemalan life, beyond the well-trodden paths of the tourist city. These towns, each with their own distinctive character, host festivals and celebrations that are deeply rooted in local traditions and history. Visiting these events provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in genuine cultural experiences, where you can witness the vibrant customs and communal spirit of the Guatemalan people. It’s a chance to enrich your journey with unforgettable memories and a deeper understanding of the country’s heritage.

Fiesta Patronal in Santa María de Jesus -January 1 and 2nd 

Twenty five minutes from antigua in the town of Santa María de Jesus celebrations in the sweet name of Jesus take place for the town’s fiesta patronal. Social and cultural events including a horse race take place from January 1rst to 5th with January 1st and 2nd being the main days of celebrations. One of the highlights of the festivities is the procession ot the patron saint is accompanied by a large number of devotees who carry on their shoulders the venerated image of the Child Jesus in his invocation of the sweet name. 


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Another procession is held, with the image of the Virgin Mary carrying the Child Jesus, which is accompanied by the prayerful Holy Mother of God. This procession is very unique as the images wear the traditional Mayan dress of the region. Various folkloric dances also take place including: “Micos” (monkey), “Fieros”, “Venados” (deer), “Convite” or “Enmascarados” (the masked ones) and the “Tirijupos”.


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Chorpus Christy Celebration in San Antonio Aguas Calientes – May 30th (changes)

In the nearby town of San Antonio Aguascalientes, just a thirty minute drive from Antigua, the Corpus Christi celebration is a colorful and lively event. The town comes alive with a series of social, cultural, and sports events, centered around honoring the Eucharist. The highlight of the festival is the traditional folk dances, including ‘Toritos’, ‘La Conquista’, and ‘Animales Fieros’, performed by locals in vibrant costumes. These dances, along with performances featuring ‘Moros’, ‘Convite’, ‘Gigantes’, ‘Diablos’, and ‘Judios’, create a lively and festive atmosphere, showcasing the rich folkloric traditions of Guatemala.


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Fiesta Patronal in San Juan Alotenango – June 24th

In San Juan Alotenango, located just 30 minutes from Antigua Guatemala,The celebration of Saint John the Baptist in San Juan Alotenango offers a unique glimpse into the cultural richness of Guatemala. This vibrant event, held annually on June 24th, features a blend of religious ceremonies, cultural displays, and sports activities. The town, located just 30 minutes from Antigua, becomes a hub of energy and color, with various folk dances like ‘El Torito’, ‘La Conquista’, and ‘Moros’. The event is a great opportunity for visitors to experience the local community’s enthusiasm and to witness the blending of traditional and contemporary Guatemalan culture.

El Torito folkloric dance from Guatemala
El Torito folkloric dance from Guatemala.

Fiesta Patronal in San Perdro Sacatepequez – June 29th

San Pedro Sacatepequez, a town located just forty-five minutes from Antigua Guatemala, comes alive every June 29th to honor its patron saint, Saint Peter. The Fiesta Patronal, or the town’s main festival, is a vibrant blend of cultural, social, and sports events that showcase the town’s traditions and community spirit. The highlight of these festivities is the folkloric dance of “Los Moros” (the Moors). This dance is a colorful and performance that depicts historical and cultural narratives, involving elaborate costumes and engaging storytelling through dance.

Baile de Moros folk dance from Guatemala
Baile de Moros folk dance from Guatemala.

Fiesta Patronal in Magdalena Milpas Altas – July 22nd 

Just a twenty-five-minute drive from Antigua Guatemala, the town of Magdalena Milpas Altas celebrates its patron saint, Santa Maria Magdalena (Mary Magdalene), with grandeur and festivity. Occurring every July 22nd, the town’s Fiesta Patronal is marked by a series of social, cultural, and sports events that draw both locals and visitors. A significant highlight of this celebration is the procession of Mary Magdalen. Another main even is the folkloric dance of “El Diablo” (the Devil), a performance rich in symbolism and tradition. This dance typically features vibrant costumes and masks, representing the battle between good and evil, a common theme in many Guatemalan folkloric dances. It’s a unique cultural experience, offering a glimpse into the town’s traditions and the creativity of its people.


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Fiesta Patronal Santo Domingo de Xenacoj – August 2nd to 9th

Just 40 minutes from Antigua, in the picturesque town of Santo Domingo the Xenacoj celebrates its annual fair from August 2 to 9, with the main day being August 4, in honor of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. This festival has been celebrated for over 400 years, believed to have started around 1580. During this time, the community enjoys marimba concerts and popular dances. There’s also a fair with mechanical rides and stalls offering various Guatemalan snacks. Women in the locality participate in firework displays, and there are traditional activities like the greasy pole challenge, parades, and the ‘Moros y Cristianos’ dance. Additionally, a mass is held in the local Catholic church.One of the most important activities during the fair is the selection and crowning of Rumi’al Ajaw, who will represent the identity of Xenacoj throughout the country.


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Fiesta Patronal in Jocotenango – August 1-16th

In Jocotenango, just a 20-minute journey from Antigua’s Central Park, the local community vibrantly celebrates the Fiesta Patronal from August 1st to the 16th, honoring the Virgin Mary of the Asuncion. This festival is a blend of social, cultural, and religious events, culminating on August 16th, which is regarded as the most significant day of the celebration. During these festivities, visitors can enjoy a variety of traditional Guatemalan folk dances such as ‘Micos’, ‘La Conquista’, ‘Fieros’, ‘Convite’ or ‘Enmascarados’, each with its unique historical and cultural significance. The festival is further brightened by performances of ‘Gigantes’ or ‘Cabezudos’, and ‘Damas’ or ‘Gracejos’ dances, which add a lively and colorful dimension to the celebrations. The 16th brings the festivities to a peak with special events and processions, making it an especially memorable day for both locals and visitors, as they immerse themselves in the rich cultural tapestry of Jocotenango.

(Note: one of the largest fairs in Guatemala City is called Feria de Jocotenango, this is not the same thing as the fiesta patronal that takes place in the town of Jocotenango next to Antigua Guatemala.)

Baile de los gigantes o cabezudos in Guatemala
Baile de los gigantes o cabezudos in Guatemala.

Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez – November 1st

Held on All Saints’ Day, the Giant Kite Festival takes place in the towns Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez. This is one of Guatemala’s most impressive festival and features huge, vibrant colored kites made of tissue paper.  The designs often depict cultural, religious, and even political themes, telling stories that resonate with the people and the nation’s heritage. According to tradition, the kites connect the earth and the heavens, carrying messages and prayers from the living to their loved ones who have passed away.

Giant kite festival in Guatemala

To witness this amazing tradition you can take a day tour to the Sumpango Giant Kite Festival from Antigua. You can learn more about the Day of the Dead celebrations in Guatemala here

About Guatemala’s Fiestas Patronales: Patron Saint Fairs and Celebrations

Fiestas Patronales, or patron saint festivals, are significant cultural celebrations in Guatemala, deeply rooted in the country’s rich history and religious traditions. These festivals are dedicated to the patron saints of towns and villages, symbolizing a blend of indigenous Mayan cosmovision and Spanish influences. Each town has its own patron saint, and the festival is a time for the community to come together in celebration and reverence.

Procession during the Fiesta Patronal de Antigua Guatemala
Procession during the Fiesta Patronal de Antigua Guatemala.

Typically, Fiestas Patronales involve a mix of religious and secular activities. The celebrations start with a religious procession, where the statue of the patron saint is carried through the streets, often accompanied by music, prayers, and a large crowd of devoted followers. This is followed by a mass in the local church, an essential part of the religious observance.

Marimba, Guatemala's national instrument.
Marimba, Guatemala’s national instrument.

In addition to the religious aspects, these festivals are known for their vibrant, festive atmosphere. The streets come alive with colorful decorations, marimba concerts, traditional folkloric dances, and popular games like the palo encebado and the carreras de cintas (horse races). Food stalls set up throughout the area offer a variety of local traditional Guatemalan dishes like tostadas and other Guatemalan fair foods as well as delicious desserts and traditional Guatemalan candy. Carnival rides, fireworks (usually firecrackers and bombs), and live music performances are also common, turning the town into a hub of activity and joy. 

You can learn all about the folk dances in Guatemala, their meaning, history and where to see them here. 

Guatemalan traditional dances are a vibrant expression of the country’s rich cultural heritage, blending ancient rituals with colorful storytelling. Here you will find the most popular danzas folcloricas or folk dances in Guatemala. I will be sharing each dance’s significance in Guatemalan traditions, it’s history as well as the when and where you can see each of these dances from el baile del Venado and La Conquista to the popular baile de Moros y Cristianos,  the Palo Volador, the Rabinal Ajau and many more.

La Quema de El Torito folk dance in Guatemala.
La Quema de El Torito folk dance in Guatemala.

If you are in Guatemala when one of these fiestas patronales is being celebrated this is a great opportunity to see the real Guatemala and to witness to Guatemalan traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

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The Good Friday Procession during Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Antigua Guatemala
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