One spectacular annual event, which brings emigrants home from as far away as Canada, is the famous November 1 fiesta for All Saints (todos santos). For three days the village is taken over by unrestrained drinking, dance and marimba music. The festival starts with an all-day horse race, which begins as a massive stampede, as riders tear up the course, thrashing their horses, capes flowing behind them. At either end of the run they take a drink before burning back again. As the day wears on some riders retire, collapse, or tie themselves on their mounts, leaving only the toughest to continue.

On the second day, The Day of the Dead, the action moves to the cemetery, with marimba bands and drink stalls setting up amongst the graves for a day of intense ritual that combines grief and celebration. By the end of the fiesta, the streets are littered with collapsed villagers and the jail packed with brawlers

Organized trips to the Todos Santos fiesta are offered by tour agencies in Quetzaltenango and Lago de Atitlán.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

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