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High Issues to Do on Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala

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Happening on November 1st, Día de Todos los Santos in Guatemala is stuffed with vibrant customs. Finest identified all through Latin America as Day of the Lifeless and Dí­a de los Muertos, it’s truly one of many greatest holidays celebrated in Guatemala. 

In accordance with custom, Guatemalans imagine the barrier between the realms of the dwelling and the lifeless is at its most porous on the primary two days of November.

The necessary dates are All Saints Day or Día de Todos los Santos on November 1st, and Day of the Lifeless or All Souls Day  (Dia de los Difuntos) on November 2nd. 

Giant kites on Day of the Dead in Guatemala.
Big kites on Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

It’s a really perfect time to honour deceased family and friends by constructing altars, cleansing gravestones, flying big kites, making ready  Guatemalan culinary specialties and different technique of respect.

Listed here are the 5 methods Día de Todos los Santos or Day of the Lifeless is widely known in Guatemala.

1. Expertise Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala – Big Kite Pageant of Sumpango 

Virgin of Guadalupe kite on Day of the Dead Kite Festival Guatemala
Virgin of Guadalupe kite on Day of the Lifeless, Guatemala

Whereas kite working or kite preventing is a well-liked pastime all through the Indian subcontinent for enjoyable and as a aggressive sport, the origins of Guatemalan kite historical past is kind of distinctive. It coincides with the annual winds that blow within the month of November. 

What makes Guatemala’s Day of the Lifeless traditions so distinctive is that they imagine it’s an auspicious time to speak with household ancestors by attaching messages to barriletes (kites) and letting the wind carry the messages as much as the heavens.

The very best locations to see these ceremonial kites are the official barriletes fiestas held on November 1st within the central highlands in Sumpango, Sacatepéquez west of Guatemala Metropolis.

Los Barriletes de Sumpango or Big Kite Pageant in Sumpango Guatemala has developed to an elaborate and spectacular spectacle.

The kite competition attracts massive crowds and parking may be very tough to seek out. So one of the simplest ways to see the Big Kite Pageant is to take a guided tour that features transportation to and out of your resort.  

Test costs and availability of a particular tour to the Sumpango Kite Pageant for November 1 on


Los Barriletes de Sumpango Kite Festival Day of the Dead in Guatemala
Anticipate massive crowds and massive kites on the Kite Pageant throughout Day of the Lifeless Guatemala

Months earlier groups of expert native craftsmen (much like the teams in Las Fallas competition in Valencia)  create their big kite from paper and bamboo in group workshops.

The messages and designs vary from spiritual to inventive to political. Throughout my most up-to-date go to, I noticed elaborate Guatemalan kites selling an finish to violence in opposition to ladies in addition to different kites with spiritual and cultural themes.

As soon as the large kites (7 metres in diameter) are in place they’re then lifted by teams of kite fliers who will attempt to hoist it into the air in entrance of bleachers lined with spectators.

Should you’re learning Spanish at one of many many language faculties in Antigua, excursions to the kite competition are sometimes accessible for college students.

 Should you’re in search of a resort, try our publish on 3 Funds Lodges You’ll Love in Antigua Guatemala.  

Be ready for crowds. Greater than 100,000 individuals attend this festivals.  Should you do attend Guatemala’s big kite competition, depart valuables at house and observe different security suggestions for secure journey in Guatemala.

2. Get pleasure from Guatemalan Day of the Lifeless Meals

fiambre is a traditional food to eat on Day of the dead in Guatemala
Fiambre is a conventional meals to eat on Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala

Dia de los Santos isn’t only a competition for barrileteros (kite-flyers). It’s additionally a particular alternative for Guatemalans to eat conventional vacation meals. 

Ayote en Dulce – Squash in Spiced Panela Sauce 

Pieces of Guatemalan ayote en dulce on a red tablecloth.
Ayote en dulce is a really candy dessert that’s hottest round Dia de los Santos. (Credit score: Beto Sanchez)

The day begins with a breakfast favorite of ayote en dulce, fabricated from chilacayote, a long-necked squash chopped into items with the pores and skin, pulp and seeds intact.

To make this particular Day of the Lifeless dish (also referred to as ayote en miel), a thick-skinned squash is steamed in a candy syrup of panela (uncooked sugar cane)  generously spiced with cloves, allspice and cinnamon.

Lime leaves and orange peel retains it from turning into too candy. Its deep mahogany color will get even darker the longer it sits within the syrup. So it’s often made a day or extra upfront. 

Though it’s usually served for breakfast it’s equally common after fiambre. 


One other conventional Guatemalan meals to get pleasure from on Dia de los Muertos in Guatemala is fiambre.

One of the necessary Guatemalan vacation traditions, fiambre is very anticipated because it’s ready simply every year. 

The time, value and energy of making ready the greater than 100 substances that go into fiambre elevates this chilly meat and vegetable salad to an exalted place in Guatemalan tradition.  

Close-up of fiambre, a cold meat and vegetable salad that's traditionally eaten on dia de los muertos in Guatemala.
Made in massive batches, Guatemalan fiambre might be served in a single big platter or in particular person servings.

The historical past of fiambre is unknown however native legends say the recipe dates to colonial instances and originated on the Convent of the Capuchinas in Antigua.

It’s mentioned {that a} nun assigned to creating a last-minute dinner for company, raided the convent’s larder and chopped the whole lot accessible into tiny items.

The ensuing platter of composed greens, meats, eggs and salad dressing proved to be very talked-about. Now this distinctive meals is  an indispensable a part of Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala festivities.

Platanos en Mole  

One other common Day of the Lifeless dish of a extra manageable dimension is Platanos en Mole (plantain in a wealthy chocolate/spice sauce). It’s usually served throughout Semana Santa (Holy Week) however can be loved throughout festivities.

Blue Corn Tortillas 

On the Los Barriletes de Sumpango Kite competition you’ll additionally see distributors making blue corn tortillas by hand after which cooking them by grilling them till toasty on a comal.

These tortillas are further scrumptious slathered with créma, salty cheese from Zacapa and slices of avocado. It’s a practice to eat a couple of whereas on the kite competition or take a couple of house. 

Making blue corn tortillas in Guatemala
A vendor making blue corn tortillas on the Kite Pageant in Guatemala. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Plan your personal Día  de los Muertos Celebration! Get our checklist of 25+ Straightforward Recipes to Make for Day of the Lifeless

3. Be a part of a Guatemala Day of the Lifeless Celebration

Conquistadores in Barcenas on Day of the Dead in Guatemala
Conquistadores in Barcenas, Guatemala

Eat road meals, drink venado white rum, fly a small kite of your personal to speak together with your ancestors or be a part of a road procession on Day of the Lifeless. Mariachi music can be common particularly in case you’re internet hosting a household celebration. 

Though the graveside vigils aren’t as boisterous as they’re in Oaxaca Metropolis and Lake Janitzio close to Pazcuaro Mexico, there’s nonetheless heaps to do on Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala.

It’s additionally price contemplating taking a culinary strolling tour of Antigua with Style Antigua  to pattern road meals.

4. Go to a Cemetery Throughout Dia de Los Santos in Guatemala

Every week earlier than Day of the Lifeless, household tombs are scrubbed, cleaned and repainted — usually a gorgeous shiny blue.

On Dia de los Santos, households make paper garlands and buy wreaths of white and purple chrysanthemums to position on the tombs of departed members of the family.

Whereas the graves are embellished,  Guatemalan altars usually are not as elaborate as these in Oaxaca Metropolis or Michoacan, Mexico. 

Decorated grave in a cemetery on Day of the Dead in Guatemala
Adorned grave in a cemetery in Zacapa, Guatemala.

Households will spend the day on the graveyard and processions, quiet prayers, particular plenty at church and naturally meals are all a part of the custom. 

Not like the celebration environment of Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca you received’t see celebrations within the cemeteries. It might not be regular to see vacationers wandering round taking pictures or collaborating in non-public household vigils.

Test costs and availability of a particular Day of the Lifeless Cultural Tour with a gravesite go to and the Big Kite Pageant in  

5. Make a Pilgrimage to the Black Christ on the Basilica of  Esquipulas

Cathedral Basilica of Esquipulas in Guatemala.
Pay a go to to the Cathedral Basilica of Esquipulas in Guatemala.

Whereas the Basilica of  Esquipulas is a well-liked pilgrimage web site for Catholics all year long, it’s particularly transferring to go to it throughout the days surrounding Day of the Lifeless in Guatemala.

E book a tour Ta

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A collage of giant kites, Day of the Dead salad and people in devil costumes on Day of the Dead in Guatemala.

A giant kite at Los Barriletes de Sumpango in Guatemala for Day of the Dead. Dead in Guatemala is a colourful affair. Taking place on November 1st of each year, the Dia de los Muertos Kite Festival is one of the biggest cultural festivals in #Guatemala. It’s one of the top things to do for locals and visitors alike.


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