Public Holidays

Figures representing the old year, in flames.
Masks at new year in Ecuador.
New Year Fancy dress parade in Atuntaqui, Ecuador.

Useful Spanish Vocabulary:
feriado: bank holiday
fiesta: party

Christmas decorations in EcuadorBread babies and colada morada, a purple drink
Quito flag in Ecuador

Most of Ecuador's
Public Holidays celebrate
either historic dates or
religious festivals.

Public Holidays in Ecuador

Ecuador's public holidays mostly celebrate historic events and religious festivals.  Some public holidays are national and apply to the whole of Ecuador, some are local to a particular city.  A public or bank holiday may be applied on a Friday if the actual date falls at the weekend or midweek.  In this case it is common for festivities to happen on the actual date and then people have the day off on the official date anyway, thus getting two holidays for the price of one.  
Some celebrations are not actually public holidays, but the public stop working and celebrate anyway and there is very little that the goverment can do about it.  In general, if there is an excuse for a party, people in Ecuador will celebrate it.
National Public Holidays in Ecuador
Regional Public Holidays, or Festivals not officially Public Holidays but widely celebrated anyway

1 January - New Year (Año Nuevo)
February/March - Carnival (Carnaval, just before Lent) Dates vary, in 2014 Carnival public holidays are 3 & 4 March, but workers must compensate by working 2 Saturdays.  Carnaval involves flinging water and/or flour at everyone, including total strangers and tourists with expensive cameras - be warned.  Throwing water in through the windows of moving vehicles is not outside the rules either.
March/April - Easter (Semana Santa, literally Holy Week).  Dates vary, Good Friday is 18 April in 2014. Holy (Maundy) Thursday (Jueves Santo) is widely celebrated, but the official public holiday is Good Friday (Viernes Santo).  The parade in Quito's Old Town attracts large crowds as the cross is carried past the old colonial churches.
1 May - Labour Day (Dia del Trabajo)
24 May - Battle of Pichincha (Batalla del Pichincha)
24 July Birthday of Simón Bolivar (Nacimiento de Bolívar)
10 August - Independence Day (Primer Grito de Independencia)
9 October - Independence of Guayaquil (Guayaquil only) (Independencia de Guayaquil) Usually celebrated in Guayaquil with a parade.
2 November - Day of the Dead, or All Souls' Day (Día de los Difuntos) Families visit cemeteries and leave offerings of bread figurines for deceased relatives.  The traditional food at this time is bread babies (guaguas de pan) and a purple drink (colada morada).
3 November - Independence of Cuenca (Independencia de Cuenca)
6 December - Foundation of Quito (Quito only) (known as "las fiestas de Quito") with parades, parties and bullfights in Quito.  Effectively marks the beginning of Christmas for most Quiteños, many of whom put up Christmas trees as well as the Quito flag.
25 December - Christmas Day (Navidad) The present-giving and Christmas dinner actually take place at midnight on 24th December (the "noche buena" or good night, so the 25th is usually spent recovering.
31 December - New Year's Eve (Nochevieja, literally "old night", or Fin de Año, end of year) when symbolic figures of the old year are burnt to signify a fresh start to the new year.  Also expect lots of fireworks.
Public holidays in Ecuador are often celebrated with family, which for many people means travelling back to their home town or village.  Consequently buses are often packed around these dates, so reserve a ticket ahead of time, or even better, try to avoid travelling around public holiday dates, if possible.  
Public Holidays in Ecuador
Ecuador public holidays - dates and traditions.  Religious festivals, regional celebrations, popular fiestas and traditional holiday observances in Ecuador.  Information is given in good faith and no responsibilty can be taken for errors or omissions.