Cuenca Fest

Cuenca Festival: Music, Fairs, Fireworks, Art & More

Hola amigos, today’s video is a vibrant journey into the heart of Cuenca’s soul during its annual celebration of independence. I can’t help but be immersed in the pulsating beats and the lively atmosphere that resonates throughout the city. This is more than a festivity; it’s a cultural extravaganza, a testament to the rich tapestry of Ecuadorian heritage.

In its two-hundred-and-third year of independence, Cuenca comes alive with a unique blend of excitement, dancing, parties, and an explosion of artistic expression. The air is filled with the joyous spirit of celebration, echoing through every corner. From the beats of traditional music to the vibrant hues of art exhibitions, Cuenca embraces its independence with a fervor that captivates both residents and visitors.

Join me as we explore the sights and sounds of the festival, from the bustling streets around Park Calderon to the serene banks of the Tomebamba River. The Cuenca Festival is not just a celebration of independence; it’s an invitation to partake in the soul-stirring experience of a city that proudly embraces its past while dancing into its future.

So, buckle up for an adventure into the heart of Cuenca’s festivities, where every note, every brushstroke, and every step narrates a story of resilience, creativity, and the unyielding spirit of independence. Vamanos, let’s dive in!

Exploring FAAM Artisan Festival

“We love the Artisanal Fair because it attracts visitors and artists from all over Latin America. It’s a market lover’s dream.”

With over 400 events scattered throughout the city, the Cuenca Festival unfolds like a tapestry of cultural richness. Nestled along the picturesque banks of the Tomebamba River, the FAAM Artisan Festival is a beacon for both locals and visitors seeking a sensory journey through Latin American craftsmanship.

As I navigate through the stalls and festive atmosphere, it becomes evident why it’s a cornerstone of Cuenca’s celebration. The festival’s charm lies not only in its scale but in its ability to cater to diverse tastes. Families, art enthusiasts, and those simply curious about Ecuador’s cultural heritage find something special amid the myriad of offerings.

From intricately crafted jewelry made from natural materials, such as seeds and wood, to exceptional ceramics that bear the touch of skilled hands, every stall is a canvas of cultural narrative. This marketplace becomes a meeting point for artisans to share their stories, skills, and the essence of their respective regions.

Walking through the stalls, I discover more than products; I encounter stories woven into every piece on display. A necklace crafted from wood sourced from the ayahuasca tree becomes a tangible link to the Amazon’s lush landscapes. Ceramics, each telling a visual story of the Pastaza region in Ecuador’s Amazon, showcase the artistic mastery of indigenous women.

The FAAM Artisan Festival is not merely a marketplace; it’s a living gallery where each creation is a brushstroke in the vibrant portrait of that artisan’s heritage. It’s an immersion into the cultural vibrancy that defines Cuenca and sets the Cuenca Festival apart as a celebration where art, tradition, and creativity converge.

Challenges Faced by the Tomebamba River

The Tomebamba, known for its spirited flow, experiences an unusual dip in water levels. While this alteration in aesthetics is notable, it unveils a more profound narrative, one entwined with Ecuador’s energy challenges.

El Nino, a climatic phenomenon with cascading effects, emerges as a silent actor in this year’s festival narrative. The river, which typically roars in harmony with the festivities, now adopts a more subdued cadence. Beyond the surface, this altered state symbolizes a broader concern.

“Ecuador currently can’t produce enough electricity due to the reduced water supply, which has led to the need to purchase electricity from neighboring Colombia.”

In the face of these challenges, a unique dimension emerges – the Ecuadorian government, acknowledging the irreplaceable role of the Cuenca Festival in the nation’s cultural tapestry, takes a strategic step. A temporary halt is placed on rolling blackouts during the festival period. This decision echoes a commitment to preserving the uninterrupted flow of festivities, underscoring the cultural significance of this annual celebration.

Artisan Spotlight: Alessandro from Burning World Pottery

“Here’s an interesting artisan. Alessandro from Burning Wild Pottery has made the trip from the Manabi province to be here.”

Alessandro’s specialization in ceramics extends to the creation of what he aptly calls “Magic Wine Cups.” These distinctive pieces, known for their unique design and claimed ability to prevent hangovers, are some of his most popular designs. Not sure if they work? Feel free to give them a try and report back! 
Here’s a previous article on Allesandro if you’d like more details or contact him directly here.

Unveiling Handmade Treasures

“Now it’s time to unveil my favorite purchase of the day, a ceramic plate from the Pastaza region in Ecuador’s Amazon.” The Cuenca Festival, beyond being a visual spectacle, transforms into a marketplace of cultural treasures, inviting attendees to not only witness art but to bring it into their lives.

The ceramic plate, a tangible testament to Ecuador’s diverse and vibrant traditions, is a product of the hands of women native to the Pastaza region of the Amazon. Intricate details depicting the sun and the moon in the form of a face adorn the plate, offering a glimpse into the artistic language of the Pastaza region. 

The cost of each of their pieces was very reasonable.

Rocking Out with Cruks en Karnak

“Now the only catch was that the concert started over 3 and a half hours late, but as they say, good things come to those who wait and we’re really glad that we did.”

As the sun dips below the horizon, the Cuenca Festival takes a musical turn with a concert by the legendary Ecuadorian band, Cruks en Karnak.

The festival-goers, including 2 of our kids, found ourselves immersed in the atmosphere of anticipation. The delayed start, rather than dampening the spirits, provide an opportunity for the crowd to gather in eager anticipation.

As the first notes resonate and the crowd collectively holds its breath, the delayed start becomes a faded memory. The music takes center stage, weaving together notes of nostalgia, emotion, and pure enjoyment. 

We all ended up having a blast.

Your Invitation to Immerse in Cuenca’s Festive Splendor

“Now that you’ve joined us on this incredible journey through the Cuenca Festival, we have a special invitation for you.”

This invitation is more than a mere suggestion; it’s my enthusiastic call to action, urging you to step into the heart of Cuenca’s festive energy. The festival becomes an open invitation for all of us to partake in the city’s annual celebration of independence.

I intentionally use the word “incredible” to describe the journey. It’s a nod to the richness of the experiences we’ve shared in this video — from the artisanal fair to the challenges faced by the Tomebamba River, from the spotlight on artisans like Alessandro to the musical crescendo with Cruks en Karnak.

Just be sure to book your accommodation and other plans well in advance as this festival is very popular with national and international guests. 
Of course, if you also happen to be scouting Cuenca real estate options, you’re more than welcome view our current for sale and rental listings or provide your preferences here and we can do the heavy lifting for you.

Cuenca Festival: Music, Fairs, Fireworks, Art & More [Transcript]

Jason    00:00 

Hola amigos, Jason from YapaTree here. Today’s video is just a tiny glimpse of a small part of Cuenca Festival, our annual celebration of independence. Not sure if you can hear the background thumping noise and it’s everywhere in Cuenca right now it is quite the party. This year marks the two hundred and third year of Cuenca’s independence and the city is alive with excitement, dancing, parties, art and just generally brimming with culture.

Jason    00:28 

With over 400 events, there’s certainly something for everybody, including families. Now obviously we cannot go to every single event, and today’s video really only focuses on one main event, the FAAM Artisan Festival. Nestled along the banks of the Tomebamba River just by the CIDAP Museum, they generally produce a calendar of events just like this one so you can plan your festival. It’s 72 pages long, so happy reading. Download links are in the description and as a little bonus or a dare I say yapa, we’ve also got some clips from the legendary Ecuadorian band Cruks en Karnak, who reunited for the very first time in 17 years. It’s going to be a banging time vamanos.

Jason    01:13 

Hang on. Before editing this video, we also managed to check out the area around Park Calderon, including an exhibit from artist Alberto Soriano. It’s at the end, I hope you enjoy.

Jason    01:29 

We love the Artisanal Fair because it attracts visitors and artists from all over Latin America. It’s a market lover’s dream. I know my parents would be like kids in a candy store and as I am I guess as well. We generally do try and pick up a few things every year and this year I actually picked out a very cute necklace for Michelle.

Jason    02:59 

This artisan makes jewelry from natural products such as seeds and wood. The necklace that I purchased, Michelle was made out of wood from the ayahuasca tree and the price was only $10 – what a deal. But what originally caught my eye was the many different products made from the chicaro fruit. I recently came face to face with this fruit in San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, and truth be told, I stole one from a tree on the side of the road thinking it was the biggest avocado I had ever seen. Now I was pretty disappointed when Michelle’s mom burst my bubble, but had I have known of the possibility to make jewelry from it, I probably still would have tried to eat it – that’s just me. But now Michelle has a very nice token of our time at this year’s Cuenca Festival.

Jason    03:49 

This particular fair takes place either side of the Tomebamba River that separates the historic area of Cuenca from El Vergel. But this year El Nino has made its presence known, causing an unusual drop in water levels in the river. Now, whilst the Tomebamba usually roars with water, this time it’s really more akin to a gentle trickle. And it’s not just about the aesthetics of the river, either. Given that a significant portion of Ecuador’s electricity is hydrogenerated, the low water levels are indicative of the current power issues faced by the country.

Jason    04:23 

Ecuador currently can’t produce enough electricity due to the reduced water supply, which has led to the need to purchase electricity from neighboring Colombia. However, here’s where it gets a little tricky. Colombia is facing its own electricity shortage, so they’ve temporarily stopped supplying Ecuador with this extra and this challenging situation has led to scheduled rolling blackouts in Cuenca and around the country. Now this has caused quite a few headaches for everybody, especially remote workers that rely on the Internet for their jobs.

Jason    04:56 

But here’s a silver lining, at least for the Cuenca Festivals. The Ecuadorian government recognized the importance of the Cuenca Festival, and to ensure that it’s not interrupted, they’ve put a pause on the rolling blackouts from the second until the fifth of November.

Jason    05:42 

Here’s an interesting artisan. Alessandro from Burning Wild Pottery has made the trip from the Manabi province to be here. Alessandro is an expat from the US and he makes exceptional ceramics, including his famous Magic Wine Cups which are claimed to help prevent hangovers. Now I am yet to personally test this claim, but I think I might be due to give it a good crack. Now we’ve previously written about Alessandro when he came for a previous festival, and I will provide a link to this in the description so you can learn about more about him and his work.

Jason    06:52 

Now it’s time to unveil my favorite purchase of the day, a ceramic plate from the Pastaza region in Ecuador’s Amazon. It’s handmade by women native to this area, and the plate features a lovely depiction of the sun and the moon in the form of a face. The level of detail is fantastic, and it only cost $20. Kind of ridiculous for the handmade quality and design. Now, not sure whether it’s for the home or office. Perhaps keep your eyes peeled for it in future videos.

Jason    07:24 

Here’s another little extra or Yapa. We decided to check out the streets surrounding Park Calderon. There was a great party atmosphere happening and we managed to check out some vacas locas fireworks and we finally caught the art exhibit by Alberto Soriano that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while.

Jason    09:33 

You idiomarters would most likely know Alberto Soriano’s works, as he has been a resident artist at idiomART for many years. He’s a very popular artist and he also teaches some art classes too, so if you’re interested, do feel free to get in contact – I’ll provide the details in the description. He’s also just a lot of fun with a very playful sense of humor.

Jason    10:18 

As the sun sets, it’s time to get our rock on at a concert by Cruks en Karnak. This one was all Michelle’s doing. It was her favorite band growing up, and she really wanted to see them play for the first time in 17 years. It was a very big deal for her, but as fate would have it, she was sick so I went with two of our kids. It was their first time visiting a rock concert and my first time seeing this band, so we were all experiencing them live for the first time.

Jason    10:45 

Now the only catch was that the concert started over 3 and a half hours late, but as they say, good things come to those who wait and we’re really glad that we did. I struggled to mouth my way through the lyrics, but I’m pretty confident that I was the only one, as everyone else around me was singing along and generally just going for it having a blast. Our kids had their first rock concert experience and it was an unforgettable one.

Jason    11:35 

Now that you’ve joined us on this incredible journey through the Cuenca Festival, we have a special invitation for you. We encourage you to come and experience Cuenca’s festive spirit for yourself. It’s an adventure like no other, a celebration that leaves an everlasting mark on your heart. But here’s a little tip; due to the very high demand for this event, make sure you book your accommodations and plans well in advance. And if you’re hungry for more exciting events, useful information, or simply want to stay updated on all things Cuenca, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel if you haven’t already.

Jason    12:09 

Thank you so much for watching this video, we cannot wait to share more fantastic moments with you in the future. Hasta pronto amigos.

2 Responses

  1. Jason, you have the perfect personality for such a videoblog; you come across very personable. You may already know about the programs below, which are designed to “align your gaze with the camera, making you appear even more engaged”. :⁠-⁠)

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    Dennis

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