The tradition dates back to 1543 when the conquistadors named the area around Antigua Santiago de Guatemala (St. James of Guatemala) after the apostle who was the conquerors’ patron saint and is theJuly 25.
Celebrations in what is now La Antigua Guatemala have been exciting over the years, but the fiesta has come to life in recent years with events throughout July!
As late as the early 1980s, celebrations included a July 25th Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph with a small procession headed by the mayor of Antigua, a marimba (and sometimes disco) concert in Central Park and a school parade. Through our efforts, we created a “Semana de Santiago,” which has grown into a month-long celebration with the participation of just about every cultural, educational and sports group in town.
Although celebrations begin early in July, the big day is July 25. Highlights include a 7 a.m. Mass at the cathedral, followed by the 8 a.m. school parade, which this year focuses on “Yo Vivo Mi Ciudad,” Antigua’s program of cultural identity, manners and customs. This magnificent show of schoolchildren and bands parades throughout the streets of Antigua, finishing up at 12:30 p.m.
At 4 p.m. the marimba concert in Central Park showcases seven marimbas from all over the country, followed by the 7 p.m. concerts with a wide range of music. Don’t forget the fireworks!