Most of the events listed here might better be considered a tradition, more than an event -- there's not, for instance, a Virgen de la Asunción PR Committee that readily dispenses information. Beyond that, your best bet for detailed information is to call the Guatemalan Tourism Commission (INGUAT) at tel. 800/464-8281 in the U.S. or 1500 in Guatemala; or visit www.visitcguatemala.com. Alternatively, you can contact hotels where the event or festivities take place.
El Cristo Negro, Esquipulas. Pilgrims from across the world converge on the Basilica in this small city in El Oriente to pay their respects to the statue, the Black Christ. January 15.
Holy Week. Religious processions are held in cities and towns throughout the country. Colorful carpets line the streets of Antigua in preparation for the processions, while in Quetzaltenango there's a live reenactment of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. Week before Easter.
La Fiesta Nacional Indígena de Guatemala, Cobán. This is one of Mesoamerica's greatest celebrations of Maya culture. The city of Cobán features a steady stream of street fairs, concerts, parades, and parties. This is celebrated for 2 solid weeks in late July, sometimes extending into early August.
Fiesta de la Virgen de la Asunción, celebrated countrywide. The Virgin of the Assumption is the patron saint of Guatemala City and, by extension, the entire nation. There are celebrations, parades, and small fairs across the country, but the largest celebrations are held in Guatemala City. August 15.
Guatemala's Independence Day, celebrated all over the country. This is a national holiday. Major cities and most towns and villages have parades and public concerts. September 15.
Día de los Muertos (All Saints' Day), celebrated countrywide. The most famous celebration is the "drunken horse race" in the mountain town of Todos Santos. Guatemalans also fly giant, colorful kites to communicate with the dead in the village of Santiago Sacatepéquez. In the rest of the country, the celebrations may not be as elaborate or ritualized as in Mexico, but most Guatemalans take some time this day to remember the dead with flowers and trips to the cemeteries. November 1.
National Garífuna Day, Livingston. Although the official celebration day is November 26, the local Garífuna population in Livingston pulls out all the stops for a solid week of partying around the actual date. Garífuna from neighboring Honduras, Belize, and Nicaragua often come to help in the celebration. Garífuna food and dancing are available all over town. There are parades and street parties. November 26.
Quema del Diablo (Burning the Devil), celebrated countrywide. Huge bonfires fill the streets throughout the country as trash, tires, old furniture, and effigies of Satan are burned in a symbolic ritual cleansing. December 7.
Fiesta de Santo Tomás, Chichicastenango. The patron saint of this highland city is celebrated with fireworks, parades, and a massive street fair. One of the highlights is the dance of the Palo Volador, or "flying pole," in which a team of acrobats dive from a high pole and are slowly lowered while spiraling outward, attached only by a rope to their ankles. The festivities build for several days leading up to the main festival day of December 21.