Being a Roman Catholic country, many of the country’s festivals are oriented to the liturgical calendar, and are celebrated with a combination of great pageantry and elements of the traditional Indian fiesta. In particular rural areas have a real party atmosphere, and Día de los Muertos on 2 November is especially colourful, with flower-laying ceremonies held in cemeteries – these tend to resemble parties more than devout remembrance services. Other holidays are of historical interest, for example Simón Bolívar’s Birthday on 24 July.
The Carnaval features water fights and fruit and flower festivals. Corpus Christi is a movable feast in June and is combined with traditional harvest fiestas in many highland towns. The larger cities have founding and independence days with lots of parties. They include Guayaquil, Otavalo, Cuenca and Quito, and most towns and villages also have their own special days. Shops, offices and services are closed during holidays and festivals, and transportation and accommodation is often very crowded – book well ahead if possible.