Guatemala Carnival: Cascarones, Pica Pica And Parades

While shopping at the Mercado in Antigua, you might come across stands selling painted eggshells, similar to Easter eggs. These colorful eggs are known as “cascarones”. Next to the eggs, you’ll typically see bags of bright confetti (pica pica).

painted eggshells

Cascarones (eggshells)

Pica pica (confetti)

The eggshells are filled with confetti and their sole purpose is to be smashed on top of someones’ head! As you can imagine, this is a very popular activity among young people. While it’s not an official holiday, the custom is to dress up children in cute animal costumes and have them throw confetti on each other at school.

This celebration is meant to be the last hurrah before the start of the Lenten season. The season is marked by ritual fasting and traditionally associated with the 40 days of fasting that Jesus endured in the desert.

Carnival in Guatemala

Most people in the USA are familiar with Mardi Gras, which is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, as the day before Ash Wednesday is called(it falls on February 14th in 2018). Other popular carnivals are the ones held in Brazil, Colombia, France, and Belgium. The carnival in Venice, Italy, is one of the oldest.

In Guatemala, the biggest and oldest carnival in the country happens in the city of Mazatenango. This carnival is a massive party, featuring parades, beauty pageants, and live bands. While the main day falls on Tuesday, the carnival actually starts on the previous Saturday and runs until Sunday of the following week.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BBV0GQNtAKV/

If you ever want to visit the Carnaval Mazateco, plan in advance. The city is over two hours away from Antigua. As an alternative, you can visit the much smaller parade at Paseo de la Sexta and at Paseo Cayalá – both activities in Guatemala City and are organized by INGUAT.

***

How do you celebrate Fat Tuesday

in your part of the world?

Antigua Guatemala Procession Schedule (2019)

Antigua Guatemala Processions

Antigua Guatemala’s Lenten season and Holy Week for 2018 is already over – which is unusual since the season this year started a lot earlier than in previous years. But it’s never too early to start planning for next year!

To help you plan for 2019’s season, I’m laying out the Antigua Guatemala procession schedule almost a full year ahead of time. No excuses now, so if you’ve always wanted to attend the world-famous celebrations, begin planning now!

Procession Santa Ines Antigua Guatemala

Times for processions may vary, so head to Parque Central or Calzada Santa Lucia and look for an information booth to get starting times and procession routes. Vigils usually start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 11:00 p.m., but not always.

If you’re planning on visiting Antigua soon, you might want to check out the Antigua Guatemala Essential Guide, which has a lot more interesting info. It’s also available in print – I’d be thrilled to autograph your copy :)

[toc]

Antigua Guatemala Procession Schedule for 2019

Here are the dates for Antigua Guatemala’s processions and vigils:

 MARCH SCHEDULE 

March 2 (Saturday)

• Vigil – Santa Catarina Bobadilla

First Week of Lenten Season

March 6 – Ash Wednesday

• Vigil – San Felipe de Jesús Church

March 8 (Friday)

• Vigil – Santa Catarina Bobadilla village

• Vigil – San José Cathedral (read more here)

March 9 (Saturday)

• Vigil – San Felipe de Jesús Church

March 10 (Sunday)

• Procession – Santa Catarina Bobadilla village (more here)

Second Week of Lenten Season

March 13 (Wednesday)

• Vigil – Los Llanos, Jocotenango (read more here)

March 15 (Friday)

• Vigil – Santa Inés Church (read more here)

March 16 (Saturday)

• Vigil – Jocotenango

• Procession – Santa Catalina Bobadilla village

March 17 (Sunday)

• Procession – Santa Inés Church (read more here)

Third Week of Lenten Season

March 22 (Friday)

• Vigil – Jocotenango (read more here)

March 23 (Saturday)

• Procession (Children) – Santa Ana village (read more)

• Procession (Children) – Jocotenango

March 24 (Sunday)

• Procession – Jocotenango

• Vigil (Children) – La Merced

Fourth Week of Lenten Season

March 29 (Friday)

• Vigil – Santa Ana Church (read more here)

• Vigil – Escuela de Cristo Church

March 30 (Saturday)

• Vigil – San José Cathedral

• Procession (Children) – San Bartolomé Church

March 31 (Sunday)

• Procession – Santa Ana village

 APRIL SCHEDULE 

Fifth Week of Lenten Season

April 3 (Wednesday)

• Vigil – San Bartolomé Church

April 5 (Friday)

• Vigil – San Bartolomé Church

• Vigil – Santa Lucía Church

April 6 (Saturday)

• Procession (Children) – Escuela de Cristo Church

• Procession – San José Cathedral

• Vigil – Escuela de Cristo Church

• Vigil – San Francisco Church

April 7 (Sunday)

• Procession – San Bartolomé de Becerra

This well-attended procession is one of the largest in Antigua. The town will be swarming with visitors.

Sixth Week of Lenten Season

April 9 (Tuesday)

• Vigil – San Felipe Church

April 10 (Wednesday)

• Vigil – Escuela de Cristo Church

April 11 (Thursday)

• Vigil (Children) – San José Cathedral

April 12 (Friday)

• Vigil – San José Cathedral

• Vigil – San Cristobal El Bajo

• Vigil – El Calvario Church

• Vigil – La Merced Church

• Procession (Children) – San José Cathedral

• Procession – Jocotenango Church

April 13 (Saturday)

• Vigil – San Felipe de Jesús Church

April 14 (Palm Sunday)

• Procession – La Merced Church

Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala

April 15 (Monday)

• Vigil – La Merced Church

• Procession – Santa Inés Church

April 16 (Tuesday)

• Vigil – San Francisco Church

• Procession – El Calvario Church

April 17 (Wednesday)

• Vigil – Escuela de Cristo Church

• Procession (Children) – La Merced Church

• Procession – San Felipe de Jesús Church

April 18 (Maundy Thursday)

• Procession – San Francisco Church

• Procession – San Cristobal El Bajo Church

April 19 (Good Friday)

• Sentencing (12:00 a.m.) – La Merced Church*

• Procession (3:00 a.m.) – La Merced Church

• Crucifixion Act (12:00 p.m.) – San José Cathedral

• Crucifixion Act (12:00 p.m.) – San José Cathedral

• Burial Procession (3:00 p.m.) – San José Cathedral

• Burial Procession (3:00 p.m.) – San Felipe de Jesús Church

• Procession (4:00 p.m.) – Escuela de Cristo Church

The sentencing is worth staying up for, as a procession of “Roman” soldiers on horseback, torches on hand, ride through town well before 12:00 a.m. This is staged to recreate Jesus’ arrest at Mount Olive.

April 20 (Black Saturday)

• Procession – San Jose Cathedral Church

• Procession – San Felipe de Jesús Church

• Procession – Escuela de Cristo Church

April 21 (Resurrection Sunday)

• Procession – San José Cathedral

• Procession – San Pedro Church (Obras Sociales)

As always, watch your wallet, phone, and other electronic devices while attending crowded processions – pickpockets will be present.