Año Viejo - Why You Should Celebrate New Years In Ecuador
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28 Nov Año Viejo – Why You Should Celebrate New Year’s In Ecuador

Año Viejo - Why You Should Celebrate New Years In Ecuador

In Ecuador, New Year’s is not called New Years. It is called Año Viejo (old year.) Año Viejo is celebrated all over Ecuador, but it is slightly different from the coast to the highlands. The celebration starts early 31st of December and lasts until the new year.

Fire up a puppet 

Weeks before the Año Viejo, you can buy the Año Viejo puppets that you burn at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Burning the Año Viejo is a symbol of moving on and that you are done with the old year and have a fresh start in the new year.  In the highlands, the puppet usually is an imitation of famous people like celebrities, politicians and public figures. On the coast, it is often a puppet of a cartoon from tv-series, movies or generally a famous figure.  Sizes vary in the highlands and many people make their own puppet using own clothes and materials and fill it with newspaper.

It is also common to jump over the Año Viejo puppet when it is on fire. That is supposed to mean good luck.

The puppets can be bought around parks and parking areas.


The Año Viejos are usually huge on the coast where they usually display it like a statue.

You can also buy masks to for the Año Viejo puppet.

You can also buy masks to for the Año Viejo puppet.

In Quito and the highlands, it is common to build a hut for the Año Viejo where it can rest before it gets burned at midnight. The makers usually set up quotes and jokes in the hut like ” Give some money to this old man.”

Seeing men dressing up as ‘slutty widows’

Be prepared for the need of lots of coins in your pocket if you are planning on driving in Ecuador on the 31st of December. It is a tradition in Ecuador for men to dress up as slutty widows and beg drivers for money. They will stop your car, drag you out of the car and eventually dance with you until you give them money.



Año Viejo Puppets

Another tradition is to run around your block with an empty suitcase. That means you will travel a lot in the coming year.

Throughout the whole day and night, in the streets Avenida Amazonas y Colon towards the south you will see installations of large Año Viejos that will burn at midnight. Many people decide to celebrate New Years in these streets.

Año Viejo Puppets



Next step: What to pack for a trip to Ecuador 

Are there any special New Years traditions where you live? Would you celebrate it in Ecuador? 

14 Comments
  • Iuliana Marchian
    Posted at 04:29h, 29 November Reply

    Those colorful puppets have such cheerful faces. You really feel that there’s taking place a big celebration. I think it’s a great experience to be in Ecuador for New Year and dance, photo, eat with those puppets.

  • Paige W
    Posted at 08:42h, 29 November Reply

    I know that this is going to sound crazy, but I have an odd puppet/doll phobia! So this sounds a bit like a nightmare for me. Haha. I wish that I didn’t because this sounds like a very funky celebration!

  • candy
    Posted at 15:03h, 29 November Reply

    Burning Puppets? Slutty widows? Wow, this definitely is all new to me. I couldn’t’ stop laughing at the different puppets on display. Just imagine Yoda going up in flames….Nooooo! Hahaha! Definitely an eye opener post to a different way of bringing in and celebrating the new year 🙂

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:09h, 29 November Reply

      It is very fun and unique, definitely a cool experience 😀

  • Claire
    Posted at 16:28h, 29 November Reply

    So that is a bit bizarre – especially the slutty widows bit!! The burning of the puppets is a bit like Guy Fawkes night in England, we make big puppets or ‘guys’ and put them on the bonfire. I don’t think we would jump over them though, we’re a bit too health and safety conscious!!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:10h, 29 November Reply

      Haha yeah it is quite bizarre, especially if you are new to Ecuador. People don’t worry about health and safety conscious here, lol

  • LaiAriel Samangka
    Posted at 22:18h, 29 November Reply

    Wow, this is truly a great idea. I actually have been planning to celebrate my new year outside of my humble country, but always didn’t able to make it. With this blog post of yours, will surely push it and finally it will happen next year. Ecuador might be one of the countries I should consider spending my New year with. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:44h, 30 November Reply

      It is very special to celebrate New years outside your own country 😀 Hope you make it maybe next year? 🙂

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 22:22h, 29 November Reply

    Reading your post and looking at the pictures, I am tempted to head towards Ecuador to celebrate Ano Viejo! The puppets look so intriguing and colourful, straight out of a children’s fairy tale or comics book. The practice of men dressing up as widows sounds really fascinating.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:45h, 30 November Reply

      I know it is fascinating hehe, kinda weird too xD

  • Mel Butler
    Posted at 14:34h, 30 November Reply

    I would love to go to Ecuador and celebrate New Year’s eve (Año Viejo), it looks and sounds like such a fun and colourful experience. Though saying that those puppets little a little scary for me however very cool at the same time. 🙂 I had to reread it twice when I read that men dressing up as widows sounds stranger but funny.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:43h, 30 November Reply

      hehe, yeah it looks scary especially when you see so many in one photo 🙂 Hopefully you get to celebrate it here one day 🙂

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