The Sumpango Kite Festival

Guatemala, like the all of Latin America, celebrates the Day of the Dead on 1st November. In the towns of Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepéquez, just to the West of Guatemala City, the day is celebrated with a display of giant kites.

The kites are made by teams of young people from the surrounding areas and they compete for the award of best kite for the category they have entered.

One of the few smaller kites that got up into the air that day

One of the few smaller kites that got up into the air that day

The police out in force as usual

The police out in force as usual

The Kites were assembled on the ground by attaching the design to a wooden structure. This was then pushed up into position to rest again two large poles planted in the ground. The whole team was involved in pushing the kite into position with others pulling on ropes attached to the top of the kites.

And another

Pushing a kite into position

Getting one of the largest kites into position
Getting one of the largest kites into position
A crowd watched as a team push a giant kite up into position at the Sumpango Kite Festival

A crowd watched as a team push a giant kite up into position at the Sumpango Kite Festival

Overlooking the Sumpango Kite Festival

Overlooking the Sumpango Kite Festival

Mayan girls in the Sumpango cemetery

Mayan girls in the Sumpango cemetery

Children of Sumpango with volcanos of Anitgua in the background

Children of Sumpango with volcanos of Antigua in the background

Detail of kite

Detail of kite

One team's work almost done

One team’s work almost done

Attaching the design firmly to the structure

Attaching the design firmly to the structure

Pushing up another kite

Pushing up another kite

A Guatemalan mother and son at the Sumpango Kite Festival.

A Guatemalan mother and son at the Sumpango Kite Festival.

Destroyed kite - only the skeleton left

Destroyed kite – only the skeleton left

This kite didn't survive the ordeal

This kite didn’t survive the ordeal

Rows of the largest kites

Rows of the largest kites

Pushing up a flower kite

Pushing up a flower kite

Getting ready to lift a kite into position

Getting ready to lift a kite into position

The story of a Mayan woman

The story of a Mayan woman

Detail of kite

Detail of kite

Getting ready to lift a kite into position

Getting ready to lift a kite into position

A kite just raised

A kite just raised

Bienvenidos a Sumpango Sacatepéquez

Bienvenidos a Sumpango Sacatepéquez

Most of the kites had messages written on them, usually some sort of appreciation of mother earth and the need to protect the environment, with many rural Guatemalan communities adversely affected by mining and other extractive industries.

La tierra es insultada y ofrece sus flores como respuesta - Earth is insulted and offers flowers in response

La tierra es insultada y ofrece sus flores como respuesta – Earth is insulted and offers flowers in response

Kite detail of a Mayan lady

Kite detail of a Mayan lady

A peacock kite from the largest category

A peacock kite from the largest category

La tierra es insultada y ofrece sus flores como respuesta
La tierra es insultada y ofrece sus flores como respuesta
A destroyed kite

A destroyed kite

With some of the largest kites, the groups start working on them as early as March. It was a shame to see several kites break at the very last moment. Some of the best kites are bought by international art collectors for large sums of money.

As it was the Day of the Dead, the roads were very busy. I had plans to go to the mountain village of Todos Santos Cuchumatanes to see the famous drunken horse race but the buses were all to full.

Here is an article about the drunken Day of the Dead celebrations in Western Guatemala.

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