Guatemala City is a large, metropolitan city. However, its after-dark pleasures are somewhat limited. Part of this is due to the famously dangerous nature of much of the city, especially after dark. Many of the late-night offerings are confined to a couple of very concentrated and centralized "safe" areas, which gives the scene a little bit of an apartheid feel. Still, if you're looking for a concert, theater performance, or night on the town, you should be able to find something here to fit the bill.
The Performing Arts
Guatemala's performing arts scene is relatively thin, which could be due to the high levels of poverty and illiteracy.
The greatest number of high-quality performances take place at the Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias, 24a Calle 3-81, Centro Cívico, Zona 1 (tel. 502/2232-4041), which features the country's largest, most modern, and most impressive theater. Offerings range from local and visiting ballet companies and symphonies to theater and modern dance. A couple of satellite theater and gallery spaces often host smaller events, which include conferences, poetry readings, and film cycles.
Another principal venue for the performing arts is the theater at the Instituto Guatemalteco Americano ★ (IGA; tel. 502/2422-5555; www.iga.edu), which is located at 9a Av. 0-51, Zona 4, on the outskirts of Cuatro Grados Norte. These folks maintain a steady schedule of events that range from children's and traditional theater to art film cycles and dance performances. Check out their website for current event schedules.
The Centro Cultural de España, Vía 5, 1-23, Zona 4 (tel. 502/2385-9066; www.centroculturalespana.com.gt), is located right on the main drag of Cuatro Grados Norte, close to the IGA. In addition to their small gallery space, they have a regular schedule of artistic, literary, and cultural events.
Your best bet for finding out what might be playing is to ask your hotel concierge, check the websites listed above, or pick up a copy of the free monthly Revue Magazine (www.revuemag.com), which is widely available at hotels and other tourist haunts around the country. If you can read Spanish, Recrearte (www.revistarecrearte.com) is another good source of information, with local listings for theater, concerts, and art galleries.
Ticket prices can range from Q30 to as high as Q450 ($4-$60/£2-£30) depending on the event and the star power of the main act.
The Bar Scene
For visitors and locals alike, there are two main after-dark destinations: the Zona Viva and Cuatro Grados Norte. Both offer a broad range of bars, restaurants, and clubs in a compact area that's safe and pedestrian-friendly. Most bars don't charge a cover unless there's a live act, in which case the cover is anywhere from Q15 to Q75 ($2-$10/£1-£5). Discos and dance clubs often have a cover of between Q15 and Q30 ($2-$4/£1-£2).
The Gay & Lesbian Scene
Guatemala is a largely Catholic, socially conservative Central American nation, and in general terms the nation can be rather homophobic. Public displays of same-sex affection are rare, and violence against prominent gay and lesbian activists is not unheard of. For these reasons, the local gay and lesbian communities are pretty discreet. Many gay and lesbian organizations guard their privacy, and the club scene is changeable and not well publicized.
For good, comprehensive information on the current situation for gay men, check out Gay Guatemala (www.gayguatemala.com), which appears in both English and Spanish. Information on the lesbian scene, and specifically lesbian clubs and bars, is much harder to come by. In general, the clubs and bars mentioned below tend to be predominantly gay, but all are pretty lesbian-friendly.
The most established gay and lesbian bars are Black & White, 11a Calle 2-54, Zona 1 (tel. 502/5904-1758); Metropole, 6a Calle, between 3a Avenida and 4a Avenida, Zona 1; Ephebus Bar, 4a Calle 5-30, Zona 1 (tel. 502/2253-4119); Genetic, Ruta 3, 3-08, Zona 4 (tel. 502/2332-2823); and El Encuentro, 5a Av. 10-52, Zona 1 (tel. 502/2232-9235).
All of the modern malls have multiplex cinemas showing late-run American movies, usually subtitled, but sometimes dubbed. Your best bets are the Cinépolis, Centro Comercial Miraflores, Calzada Roosevelt, Zona 11 (tel. 502/2470-8367; www.cinepolis.com.gt); Cines Tikal Futura, Centro Comercial Tikal Futura, Calzada Roosevelt, Zona 11 (tel. 502/2440-3297); and Cines Próceres, Centro Comercial Los Próceres, 16a Calle, Zona 10 (tel. 502/2332-8508). Check any of the local, Spanish-language daily papers for current schedules.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.