Did you know La Antigua Guatemala, literally meaning “Ancient Guatemala”, is not the city’s original name? Antigua’s full name is… get ready because it’s a mouthful… La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, or “The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala”.Why do I start with this little tidbit? Because I can, for one, but more importantly, because it’s how we get to the root of all the crazy activity going in Antigua the month of July.
Why do I start with this little tidbit? Because I can, for one, but more importantly, because it’s how we get to the root of all the crazy activity going in Antigua the month of July.
Alotenango patron saint festival
You see, each town around Antigua, including Antigua, has a Patron Saint, to which leaders entrusted the well-being of the city. It didn’t do much as far as earthquake insurance, I know that much.
The town’s name is usually a clue about who the Patron Saint is. Antigua’s original name made reference to the city’s Patron Saint, San Santiago, better known as “Saint James” to those in the English-speaking world.
Each town commemorates its Patron Saint holidays with a ton of festivities and cultural activities. While the designated holiday is kept to one or two “official days”, most towns take the opportunity to stretch out the parties into week-long celebrations.
Above is a picture of one such cultural activity taking place last month, in the town of Alotenango.
Well, in this month is when Antigua celebrates San Santiago’s designated holiday, which falls on the 24th and 25th of July. But of course, Antigua has to outdo everyone and instead of a week, they stretch celebrations into a month-long affair.
I love these festivities as unlike with processions (once you’ve seen one processional anda you’ve seen ’em all), you never know what to expect- great for fans of photography.
This is why in my new book, Living in Antigua Guatemala, I’ve included Patron Saint festival dates I could find for every town in the Antigua valley. These are the off-the-tourist-trail activities that make Slow Travel so appealing.
Since apparently the official website for Antigua’s City Hall is virus-laden (or so says my antivirus – can’t say I’m surprised), I’ve painstakingly transcribed all the activities occurring from today until the end of the month.
Antigua’s Patron Saint Festivities
Monday, July 8, 8:30 12.pm: Declamation Festival | 2:30 pm to 6.pm: Public Speaking Festival, Centro Cultural César Brañas.
Tuesday, July 9, 8:30 12.pm: Municipal Drawing and Painting Festival | 10.am at 11:30 am: Tai-Chi Students Presentation, 2:30 to 6.pm: Municipal Choir Festival, Centro Cultural Cesar Brañas | 8 am to 12 pm (RSVP in CNPAG): Photography Workshop and Use of Digital Camera, Capuchinas Convent.
Wednesday, July 10, 8.am to 12.pm: Public Speaking Competition Speech, Capuchinas Convent | 8:30 12.pm: Singing Festival, 2:30 pm to 6.pm: Choreography Festival, Centro Cultural César Brañas.
Thursday, July 11, 10.am: Skit “El Medico to Palos”, open to the public, Capuchinas Convent | 6.pm: Awards “Projections Lent and Easter 2013”, Centro Cultural Cesar Brañas.
Friday, July 12, 5.pm: Opening of XXX Edition Fair Departmental Book, City Hall | 7.pm: Election of Miss Antigua 2013/2014, Memorial to San José El Viejo.
Saturday, July 13, 7.pm: Legends of Antigua, Scouts, General Cemetery San Lazaro.
Monday, July 15, 10.am to 5.pm: Guatemalan Films – Presentation of the documentary “Tono Ballena”, Convent Sor Juana de Maldonado.
Thursday, July 18, 8.am: Athletics Festival, INVAL | 7.pm: Jazz Concert, Professors at USAC School of Art, Capuchinas Convent.
Friday, July 19, 7.pm: Music Concert – Group Jade Maya, Musical Show with Dancers, Central Plaza | 7.pm: Skit, professors at the School of Art USAC, Capuchinas Convent.
Saturday, July 20, 9.pm: Chess Festival, Ground floor of City Hall | 9.am to 6.pm: Expo Las Rosas 2013, race shirt to participants of XXXII Half Marathon Las Rosas, INSOL | 10:30 a.m: Zumba, Parque Central | 4.pm: XII Edition Kids Race Roses, Parque Central | 4.pm: Central American Championship Male and Female Bodybuilding, Body Fitness IFBB 2013, Centro Cultural César Brañas | 5.pm: Youth Marimba Band, Plaza Mayor.
Sunday, July 21, 8.am: XXXII Edition Half Marathon Las Rosas, Plaza Mayor | 8.am to 5.pm: Food Festival, Centro de la Cooperacion Espanola | 8.am to 6.pm: Exhibition “Art for Art’s Sake”, painting, theater, music and dance, Grupo Tres, Arch Street.
Wednesday, July 24, 7.pm: Formal Ceremonial Statement by Distinguished Antigüeños, Great Hall, Palacio del Ayuntamiento | 7.pm: Gallo Fest Concert, Viento en Contra & Duo Sway, Municipal Stadium Pensativo (Free admission).
Thursday, July 25, 7.pm: Holy Mass in Honor of St. James, Church of San José Cathedral | 8:30.pm Parade of floats in honor of the Apostle James, participating educational centers of La Antigua Guatemala (Departure Plaza Mayor) | 3.pm: Popular Activities: marimba concert, greasy pole **oooh! Looking forward to that one!***, sack races, Plaza Mayor | 2.pm: Cup Finals, MEG Municipal Stadium Pensativo | 3.pm start: Procession of the Patron St. James, Church of San José Cathedral | 5.pm: Solemn Session of Ordinary Legion of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, Great Hall, City Hall | 7.pm: Concert, Grupo Explosion Party, Plaza Mayor.
Friday, July 27: Reforestation Campaign.
Saturday, July 27, 1.pm: Soccer Cup Finals, Santiago Interaldeas, Municipal Stadium Pensativo.
Tuesday, July 30, 8.am to 12.pm: Drawing and Painting Contest, Educational Centers La Antigua Guatemala and its villages, Audiovisual Hall, Capuchinas Convent.
Wednesday, July 31, 10.am: Awards for Drawing and Painting contest, Audiovisual Hall, Capuchinas Convent.