An 8-day Itinerary for November’s Kite Festival
Let’s go fly a kite. . .and get a good look at Guatemalan culture while we’re at it. On this eight-day tour, you’ll experience the country’s Festival of the Giant Kites (an All Saints’ Day celebration on November 1st), tour the colonial city of Antigua and the archaeological site of Iximché, go shopping in the country’s largest indigenous market, and explore Lake Atitlán.
Wednesday, October 30th: You’ll arrive in Guatemala City and transfer to Antigua.
Thursday, October 31st: You’ll begin your day with a behind-the-scenes tour of Antigua’s colonial-era ruins. Over the course of a half-day, you’ll visit churches and cathedrals, the city’s central park, and a handful of other sites as you learn about the historic, cultural, and social highlights that make Antigua unique. When you’re finished, you’ll have the afternoon to explore on your own.
Friday, November 1st: You’ll get an early morning start for Santiago Sacatepéquez and the Festival of the Giant Kites. Every year on November 1st, Guatemalan families honor their departed loved ones with a day of festivities. Besides dining on fiambre, a traditional dish of mixed meats, cheeses, and vegetables cured in vinegar, many folks head to the town of Santiago (or nearby Sumpango) where huge, elaborately designed kites made of tissue paper and bamboo are on display. You’ll head to Santiago’s local cemetery, where the festival takes place, to join local Guatemalans as they picnic and fly kites with families and friends.
Saturday, November 2nd: You’ll travel from Antigua to the archaeological site of Iximché. Once the capital of the Kaqchiquel Mayas, Iximché now comprises partially excavated temples, ceremonial plazas, and ball courts, and is still used by Maya shamans today for sacred rituals. After touring the site, you’ll continue to the mountain town of Chichicastenango.
Sunday, November 3rd: You’ll explore Chichicastenango’s indigenous market, which is one of the country’s largest. Here, hundreds of vendors hawk everything from wood-carved masks and ceramic pottery to flowers and fresh produce. You’ll also have the opportunity to get a close-up look at K’iche’ Maya culture by visiting Santo Tomás, a church where locals practice a blend of Maya and Catholic religions, and the hilltop shrine of Pascual Abaj, where shamans can sometimes be seen performing traditional ceremonies. When you’re finished exploring, you’ll continue to Lake Atitlán.
Monday, November 4th: You’ll travel by boat the village of San Juan La Laguna, where you’ll visit a women’s cooperative to see how all-natural dyes and traditional backstrap looms are used to make some of Guatemala’s prettiest textiles. You’ll also stop by the workshop of a local naïf painter before transferring by boat to the Tz’utujil Maya town of Santiago Atitlán. Here, you’ll track down Maximón, a celebrated Maya folk saint that’s housed by a different member of the local cofradía (religious brotherhood) each year. You’ll also explore Santiago’s church and market while learning about the town’s history, textiles, and folk art.
Tuesday, November 5th: You’ll travel to the traditional town of Sololá. On market days, locals from surrounding villages and towns flock here to buy and sell fruit, vegetables, household goods, and myriad other items. You’ll see various types of traditional dress, which lends the market a truly authentic, colorful feel. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the market as well as the town’s cathedral and clock tower, the latter of which provides a bird’s-eye view of the central plaza. Afterwards, you’ll continue to Antigua.
Wednesday, November 6th: You’ll travel from Antigua to Guatemala City’s international airport in time for your flight.