Otavalo hosts several major festivals, including San Juan on June 24, which is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks as indígenas from the surrounding villages parade in costumes and masks, dancing and singing their way to the Church of San Juan, west of town. The festivities last for several days, blending with the Inti Raymi celebration of the solstice on June 21 and those for San Pedro on June 29, and together are known as “Los San Juanes”, providing a Christianized gloss to what was doubtless a pre-Columbian celebration. The San Juan fiesta once involved a kind of ritual fighting (tinku) between rival villages, but today the ceremonies are largely confined to ritual bathing in the Peguche waterfall, followed by shindigs in the outlying communities; foreigners should only attend these events if they have an invitation to do so from a local, and should show sensitivity at all times.

Another big event, the Fiesta del Yamor, during the first two weeks of September, is a twentieth-century and primarily mestizo celebration, seeing bullfights, music, dancing and traditional food and drink, including yamor itself, a chicha made from seven types of corn and prepared over twelve hours. Among the smaller events are Mojanda Arriba (Oct 30–31), a two-day walk from Quito to Otavalo, stopping at Malchinguí over the Mojanda hills, marking the foundation of the town, and Diciembre Mágico, a minor arts festival in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

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