Mardi Gras Activities in Ecuador

mardi gras traditions in ecuador

Actually, in Ecuador we call our Mardi Gras festivities–Carnaval.  I did some research and I discovered they are the same thing. The celebrations here are a bit more tamed compared to what I see in Brazil or New Orleans.  At this stage in my life, tame is good.  The celebrations seem more religious in nature and celebrated in a very cultural form as you can see from most of my pictures below.

“In Brazil and many other countries, this period between Epiphany and Fat Tuesday is known as Carnival. Whichever name you prefer to use, the revelries of Mardi Gras last until midnight tonight, when Ash Wednesday ushers in 40 days of Lent.” ~via

carnaval festivities 1

Carnival is a religious Catholic celebration but in my research I also discovered that it goes back to indigenous practices for Ecuadorians.  It’s a time of festivities and celebrations that happen before Ash Wednesday.   “As a water balloon hurtles in your direction, the ancient Andean roots of this tradition may not be immediately apparent. But Carnival in Ecuador – and across the Andes from Peru to Bolivia and parts of Chile and Argentina – is deeply interwoven with millennia-old indigenous traditions.  Prior to the 16th century arrival of Spanish colonizers, pre-Columbian Andean cultures celebrated planting festivals. Communities performed rituals with song and dance and made offerings of food and water to the fertility goddess, Pachamama (Mother World). Across the Andes, Pachamama’s special worship day is Martes de Challa or Challa Tuesday. In the Quechua language, challar means to sprinkle the earth. The date also happens to coincide with Shrove Tuesday in the Catholic calendar.  Aided by official Spanish policy to absorb indigenous beliefs into their own dominant religious practices, the two traditions merged over the slow course of centuries and evolved into today’s mestizo celebrations.” via

catholic carnaval

I thought all of this information was interesting. My husband explained the water dousing games to be symbolic of “cleansing or washing” away your sins from your festivities in preparation for the 40 Days of Lent to come.  I’m not sure how accurate that is, but it makes sense.

Mardi Gras Activities in Ecuador {with kids}


Well, regardless of it’s origin, for our family it’s definitely a time of simple fun with our neighbors and even strangers. As we gather around the park or plaza to cover someone in foam or water (though that has been prohibited).

mardi gras around the world

As expats this is how we’ve enjoyed our Carnival holiday.  Most schools get close to two weeks off but my husband’s school only gets 2 full days off so we stay close to home and explore the city or go camping which we are headed off to do for the remainder of our holiday break.

ecuadorian traditions

This year we went hunting for the Carnaval parade that was promised in the paper but I wasn’t surprised–not to find it. It’s not the first time we’ve gone out to find an advertised event only to discover it’s been cancelled or moved without any notification. Though I hear that they have a huge Carnaval festival in Ambato.

Well, instead we headed to La Ronda a quaint little area with shops, restaurants and ice cream & coffee shops.

la ronda ecuador

la ronda quito ecuador

It’s a happening spot late at night, but during the day and evening. it’s calm enough to enjoy as a family.  A few years back, they had this awesome cultural experience of a festival, all over the historical center of Quito. It was spread out throughout: in the Ronda, at the San Francisco plaza and the main plaza. It was lovely!

carnaval dancing

But this time we didn’t have any success in locating it. So we headed off to have our own carnaval fun!

IMG_8772 IMG_8783 IMG_8795 IMG_8798

We met at the park with our neighbors and “cleansed” ourselves. The foam you see is called “espuma” and you just spray it at each other until you’re all out.  It’s like a soapy foam that once it evaporates it gives you this slightly wet feeling.   The kids love it and if I’m armed with my own can and not holding my expensive camera–I don’t mind it.

(All images above are protected and owned by Inspired by Familia.  Feel free to pin the articles to link back to my blog but please do not use them without permission.)

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2 Responses to “Mardi Gras Activities in Ecuador”

  1. March 19, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Great pictures! My sister-in-law lived in Cuenca for 9 months and loved it!
    Brooke recently posted…MAKE: DIY Kid-SpinnerMy Profile

    • Inspired by Family Mag
      March 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Hi Brooke, Thanks! Yes, we’ve visited Cuenca and it is a lovely place. Just stopped by your FB page and followed. ~mari

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