What is the Carnival Program?

Que viva el carnaval! Carnival is a special time in Cuenca, as the festival kicks off on March 4-5. The event takes place the week before Lent, 40 days before Easter. You’ll be able to witness the parades, parties in the street, and typical Cuencan food like durazno and mote pata. Cuencans pride themselves on making the festival unique but also giving it a familial, small town feel. 

You won't want to miss:

  • The presentation of the Carnival king
  • The Parade of the comparsas
  • El Jueves de Compadres

Keep reading to find out more!


The Carnival Program

Course Overview


Program Highlights (Group Activities)

  • As a group, you’ll go to Calderon Park, where dancing, music and typical food are everywhere. Come and experience the Jueves de Compadres (Thursday of Friends) is one of the most unique characteristics of Carnival in Cuenca, taking place a few days before the start of Carnival. 
  • Learn about Ecuadorian history, culture and religion during the parade of comparsas held along the streets of the city, with locals coming out in traditional dress and dance. 
  • Come and relax at the perfect spot in Cuenca. While Cuenca is often filled with music, concerts during Carnival will take place along the riverbank.
  • Are you a foodie? Well, who isn’t really? Practice your Spanish while going to the various food markets around the city, learning about the history and preparation of local foods. Cuenca has a rich food history which will all be on display during Carnival, giving you the perfect chance to try everything the city has to offer. 

Morning Lessons

Morning lessons are where you will build your Spanish foundation covering grammar and vocabulary. Classes are conversation based, with more time spent on practical uses of the material instead of constant book work.  


Your Spanish vocabulary is limited to hola, gracias and adios or maybe you took Spanish classes a long time ago but need to start from scratch. The beginner class is for you!


You can hold a basic conversation in Spanish and are able to say some things in the past and future. Your Spanish is rusty but with a little work you can jump back into it!


You’re not scared by the subjunctive (being a little scared is OK, it’s pretty hard) and your conversational skills can get you past the basics. You’ve kept up with your Spanish over the years and feel comfortable with it.

Afternoon Lessons

It’s time to put your lessons into practice! We believe immersion and real world learning is the best way to learn a language and you’ll be able to take what you learned in the morning and apply it in your afternoon classes.  


City Tour-Get to know your new home by exploring Cuenca.

Church visits-Experience Cuenca’s long religious history by stepping into beautiful cathedrals and churches.

Visit to La Casa de Mujer (house of the woman)-You’ll find almost anything you’re looking for here, whether it be a gift or a perfect momento.


  • crafts market-Explore various Ecuadorian markets in and around Cuenca.
  • fruit and vegetable market-Get a taste of local food by visiting markets around the city firsthand.
  • ceramic workshop-See what makes people flock to Cuenca and see handmade ceramics.
  • Shows and local musicians-Come relax along the riverbanks and enjoy traditional music.

Field trips: 

  • hat museum-Visit what makes Ecuador famous and see those special hats.
  • museum of modern art-Find your inner artophile and become lost in the local art.
  • Remigio Crespo Museum-Visit Cuenca’s one of the museums that made Cuenca a World Heritage Site.
  • Pumapungo Museum-History and culture collide where you can see Inca ruins and explore Ecuador’s history.

Free Classes and Activities

  • General welcome and cocktail class. Explanation of typical cocktails from Cuenca
  • Cooking classes. Explanation and preparation of typical Ecuadorian dishes
  • Conversation club, a chance to practice Spanish outside the classroom
  • Salsa classes. Experience the music and rhythm while you learn the classic, cultural dance.

Weekend Trips

  • Cajas National Park. Hikes to visit the lagoons and surrounding nature
  • Chorro de Girón, visit the beautiful waterfalls.
  • Ingapirca cultural and historical walks.
  • Gualaceo-Chordeleg, Visit the workshops of macanas (typical clothes of the region), markets and visits to the workshops and silver filigree jewelry shops. Visit the plantations of Orquideas (Orquideario).
  • Sigsig-San Bartolo. See the historical Chobi Caves, the straw hat workshops, and the handmade guitar workshops.