Since 1985

Spanish School Blog

Giant Kites Sumpango & Santiago Sacatepequez Guatemala

On November 1st of each year, on All Saints' Day in Guatemala, the well-known tradition of the Giant Kite Festival is celebrated. This colorful tradition admired by locals and tourists alike, takes place in Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez, Guatemala.

Thousands of visitors arrive at the General Cemetery of the Municipality of Santiago Sacatepequez in November 1, where artistic and very creative works of artisans are exhibited. The Giant Kites (Barriletes Gigantes) are a sight to be seen. This cultural tradition of Guatemala is not only an artistic exhibition through the manufacture of kites, but it is also an ancient way to maintain the connection with the ancestors.

giant kites guatemala

Historically, based on the philosophy of the Kaqchikel indigenous race, kites represent a union between the underworld and the world of the living. It is the link between those who have departed, the saints and the living.
Legend tells that each November 1st, the Giant Kites must be well prepared to receive the spirits of the ancestors, because if they do not find a good reception, they will bother and punish the living damaging the harvests. It is tradition that in each house of the village, a flower known as 'Flor del Muerto' is placed on the frames of the doors and windows, this serves to guide the ancestral spirits.

The designs for these kites vary depending on the community and the symbolism of each one. When lifting the kites up in the air, messages are sent to the heavens thanking ancestors and asking for protection, welfare and prosperity for the living.

giant kites (barriletes gigantes)

The preparation of these kites is an intensen and creative process that takes months of planning and preparation, with designs that change every year, no kite is equal to the other. Preparing these giant kites in place for the event is a long process that takes hours, families work hard since the previous night transporting and standing each kite in place.
Every year, around 25 giant kites and 80 small kites (barriletes) are made. Each giant kite measures approximately from 6 meter to 20 meters in diameter, perhaps even more for some cases, and is constructed using paper of different thicknesses of multiple colors and sticks of thin and light cane.

giant kites guatemala

As part of this cultural festival, there is contests to reward the best 'kites'. The kites that are only for exhibition enter competition for better artistic design and symbolism, those measure up to 20 meters in diameter. The kites that rise up against the wind measure up to 8 meters in diameter and those are part of a different kind of competition.
It is exciting to see the process of how villagers work hard to lift them up. They form teams of men, each team is dedicated to flying their each kite, visitors to this event see them running in groups, dodging the obstacles on the ground as well as other teams to prevent the kites from colliding each other or getting tangled in the air. The kite that lasts longer in the air wins the competition.

barriletes gigantes guatemala

Dont miss this fascinating cultural event every November 1st on All Saints’ Day in Guatemala

Latest Posts

  • Alotenango and Santa Ines Monte Pulciano
    - Feb 18, 2019

    Sixth post on villages around Antigua Guatemala ( Sacatepequez Guatemala ), We share a brief introduction about each of these villages every week. For this sixth article we’ll include two small villages, these are Alotenango, and Santa Ines del Monte Pulciano.

  • Pastores and San Miguel Duenas
    - Feb 11, 2019

    Fifth post on villages around Antigua Guatemala ( Sacatepequez Guatemala ), we will talk about two villages per week. For this fifth article we’ll include two small but important villages, these are Pastores and San Miguel Dueñas, both are quite worth to learn from and visiting.

  • Ciudad Vieja and Santa Maria de Jesus
    - Feb 08, 2019

    Fourth post on villages around Antigua Guatemala, In this series of articles, we will talk about two villages per week. For this fourth article we’ll include two towns, Santa Maria de Jesus and the well known Ciudad Vieja, which has a one or two interesting things to learn about.

Go to Blog Mainpage


  • February 2019 (3)
  • January 2019 (5)
  • December 2018 (5)
  • November 2018 (6)
  • October 2018 (5)
  • September 2018 (5)
  • August 2018 (4)
  • July 2018 (6)
  • June 2018 (4)
  • May 2018 (4)

  • Tags

  • guatemala culture (40)
  • antigua guatemala (35)
  • guatemala (13)
  • learn spanish (12)
  • guatemala arts (5)
  • cuisine (4)
  • semana santa (4)
  • easter week (4)
  • recipe (3)
  • places to visit (3)
  • Spanish Online

    We are happy to announce our spanish clases online through Skype. If you are not coming to Antigua Guatemala, or wish to get started. Please let us know.

    Get in touch

    1a Calle poniente # 10 Antigua Guatemala GT 03000

    Have a question? Contact Us


    Join in with us to the experience of cultural and language growth.

    Newsletter Subscription