We have been privileged to experience some pretty cool local festivals including New Year’s in Quito, and Fashing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and we stumbled into another one in Flores in January.
We went for a walk around town and came across a big party which had spilled out onto the street. There were several people randomly setting off fireworks in the middle of the street. A little while later it turned into a parade of people coming down the street with a giant dancing doll that stopped and danced at every street corner. There was a band which included a giant xylophone carried my three people.
People were setting off fireworks everywhere and the parade was followed by a beer truck which appeared to be giving beers to anyone on the street. We had no idea what was going on but everyone was having fun.
The morning parade was followed by a smaller lunch time parade and a final evening parade complete with dancing dolls, music, men dressed in drag, groups of folk dancers beer and fireworks.
After the evening parade we walked up to the local fairgrounds which was full of locals not tourists. There were lots of people, stalls and entertainment which included a band made up entirely of Xylophones.
Fireworks were being set off over the heads of the crowd but the most remarkable sight was a guy wearing a large box running back and forth along the edge of the crowd shooting fireworks out of the box in all directions including into the crowd. A bunch of kids were chasing him around, We ducked for cover but Harold still had a very close call. We were some of the very small number of non-locals but no one seemed to mind that we were there.
The next day it all happened again. The only difference was a change of dolls, bands and entertainment. We followed the parade. They stopped at every street corner on the island (it’s a pretty small island) danced, played and set off big strings of fireworks and bottle rockets. Every car alarm on the Island was going off and there were bits of firework everywhere. We even got a free beer from the truck.
It was all quite remarkable but we had no idea what was going on and even when we found local Guatemalans who spoke English they were as confused as we were. Google failed me as well. But once we got home I did some research and I believe this is what we experienced but I am open to ideas!
The parades at least are the Dance of the Dolls and the festival which is unique to Flores lasts for 10 days ending on January 15th which is also the date of the day of the Lord of Esquipulas or The Black Christ https://erikawithak.me/growingup-esquipulas-guatemala/ I am not sure if they are related but they may be as the festival in Flores ends with a religious procession on the 15th which we did not get to see.
Each day of festivities is put on by a different family in town and each family works to have the best day of the festival. I have yet to find any other references to the guy in the box shooting fireworks.
But if you are planning a trip to Tikal in January it’s worth a stop in Flores.