A parade of people in colorful costumes walking down a cobblestone street for Christmas in Antigua Guatemala

Magical Christmas in Antigua Guatemala

Home ยป Guatemala ยป Christmas in Antigua Guatemala: This is why itโ€™s Special! ๐ŸŒŸ

Spending Christmas in Antigua Guatemala is a great option if you will be in Guatemala for the festive season. We spent Christmas and New Yearโ€™s Eve in Antigua and loved it.

So if you are wondering where to spend Christmas in Guatemala, here are 7 reasons to spend Christmas in Antigua Guatemala! ๐ŸŽ…

Guatemala Christmas Traditions

You might wonder how is Christmas celebrated in Guatemala? Itโ€™s quite different from other countries in the world and from our home countries New Zealand and Austria.

In Guatemala Christmas is celebrated at midnight on the 24th of December. Families will gather and enjoy the fireworks at midnight.

They will then open presents and spend the night socializing with friends and family. This socializing can often last until the wee hours. So the 25th is very quiet, and nearly everything will be closed.

But the formal celebrations begin well before the 24th with several parades and celebrations not to miss!

Tip: If you are looking to get a meal on the 25th of December the Central Market is still open. There you can get some of the best cheap eats in Antigua ๐ŸŒฎ

Christmas decoration lit up at sunset in one of the main streets of Antigua Guatemala
Christmas decoration hanging from the ceiling at Antigua's main market with an image of Jesus in the background

Fiesta de la Immaculada Concepcion

Christmas celebrations in Guatemala start on the 8th of December with the Fiesta de La Immaculada Concepcion. There will be a parade through town carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary. After the parade locals will gather at the church for midnight mass.

Read here: Why spend New Yearโ€™s in Antigua ๐Ÿคฉ

Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe

The Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe is an important event for Latin Americans on December 12th. Locals will form more parades through the streets. Once the parade reaches the church everyone will attend mass.

We have been twice to different parts of Mexico and have seen big parades, fireworks and explosions on that day there too.

Read here: 11 Best Ruins in Antigua ๐Ÿ“ธ

Locals gathering in the streets for the for the Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe celebration during Christmas in Antigua Guatemala

Dia de los Tres Reyes

Dia de los Tres Reyes (Day of the Three Kings) is the last celebration of Christmas in Guatemala. On the 6th of January, there will be a lot of church bells. There are no parades but people will attend mass and often give small gifts to family and friends.

Tip: If your Spanish is not too good an important phrase to remember is how to say Merry Christmas which in Spanish is Feliz Navidad! ๐ŸŽ…๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŒŸ

Guatemala Christmas Food

Gatherings involving food are important for Latin American families. While fast food chains also got a grip on Guatemalan culture, traditional foods like tamales are still omnipresent.


At all times of the year, tamales are on sale in Guatemala. But in the festive season, they are of particular importance. At all gatherings during Christmas, tamales are eaten.

If you have never tried tamales then you should look out for ladies selling them on the side of the road. They are corn dough that is cooked inside a banana leaf and filled with all types of fillings such as chicken, cheese, pork or beans. Yum!

Read here: Best Cheap Eats in Antigua ๐Ÿซ”

An open tamale with a flower next to it

Ponche Navideno

Ponche Navideno is a fruit punch that is sold during the Christmas season in Guatemala. It is a mix of fruits and spices that is good to drink during the cool evenings.

You will see it on sale from local businesses and street vendors if you would like to try it. Just be warned: Itโ€™s very sweet!

Read here: Best Cafes in Antigua (+Wifi) โ˜•๏ธ

7 Reasons to spend Christmas in Antigua Guatemala

Now you know how Christmas is celebrated in Guatemala. But how does Antigua celebrate Christmas? Decorative, loud and full of joy! See yourself ๐Ÿ‘‡

1. Weather

One of the best reasons to spend Christmas in Antigua Guatemala is because of the weather. Antigua is at a high altitude near the equator so there are year-round warm days with cool evenings.

If you are from the Southern Hemisphere then a warm Christmas is nothing new. But if you are from further North then a warm and sunny Christmas could be a nice change. Antigua is known as the city of eternal spring so you wonโ€™t be sweating either.

In December the average high is 22 C (72 F). At night the average low is 11 C (52 F). So you will have warm days with cool nights. Christmas is also in Guatemalaโ€™s dry season. So you are almost guaranteed a dry sunny Christmas!

Read here: This is Antiguaโ€™s best Viewpoint โ˜€๏ธ

2. Lights at the Main Square

The main square of Antigua is a green shady area that is nice to visit at any time of the year. But during Christmas, all the trees are covered in lights for Christmas. It makes a stroll around the square in the evenings feel very Christmasy.

Hanging out at the main square is a favorite for many locals. It became quickly one of my favorite things to do in Antigua too. Although there are many people selling souvenirs it never feels like a place for tourists.

In the days leading up to Christmas, kids (or adults) can get a photo with Santa Claus in a lit-up Christmas decoration on the main square. Itโ€™s fun to watch the crowds line up for it.

Read here: How to get to Lake Atitlan fast & cheap ๐Ÿš

A fountain in the middle of a main square that is light up with lights for Christmas in Antigua Guatemala
Some Christmas lights on an old colonial building in Antigua Guatemala

3. Christmas Parade

The Dance of the Giants is an awesome Christmas parade where locals dance down the street in costumes behind a truck blasting traditional music.

The parade starts at 3 pm on the 24th of December at the Iglesia de la Merced. The parade will wind through the main streets of Antigua. So you join the parade wherever you like.

According to traditions, the objective of the parade is to show that all people should show humility to the birth of Christ even the most gigantic beings.

Thatโ€™s why the locals dress up with giant paper mache heads and other costumes. They are dancing to traditional Guatemalan Marimba music played by a live band on a truck. It is a hilarious and awesome sight to see!

The dancers make their way through the streets of Antigua to the Iglesia de San Felipe de Jesus. At this church, they retrieve a photo of baby Jesus and return it to the Iglesia de Merced to symbolize his birth.

Read here: This is Lake Atitlanโ€™s most colorful town ๐Ÿคฉ

A group of people wearing big paper mache heads while dancing during a parade for Christmas in Antigua Guatemala

5. Christmas Decorations

Nothing gets you more in the Christmas spirit than seeing decorations around town. Guatemalans like festivities so shops and public spaces are covered in decorations.

It will not compare to the decorations you see in Europe but it will get you into the Christmas mood. Even the local Chicken Buses which the drivers pimp up to attract customers will have decorations on them. Super fun!

You will also see lots of pine needles on the ground of shops or at their entrances. Guatemalans sometimes cover the floors of their homes during Christmas with pine needles too.

๐ŸŽ„ Guatemalans do NOT put up Christmas trees. Instead, they like to set up nativity scenes. So in businesses and homes around town, you will most likely see a nativity scene set up instead of a tree.

A chicken bus driving down the road in Antigua Guatemala with Christmas decorations on the front
A nativity scene in cafe a common Guatemalan Christmas tradition

6. Fireworks

If you love fireworks then you will love spending Christmas in Antigua Guatemala. But if not then it may not be a pleasant experience for you!

During the weeks before Christmas fireworks and firecrackers are set off all the time. But they are not small fireworks. You will hear booms that sound like a small-scale war.

But Guatemalans save the biggest show for the 24th. As the clock hits midnight Guatemalans all over Antigua and the surrounding towns set off an insane amount of fireworks.

The whole sky lights off and the sound is deafening. So be prepared to be woken up at midnight if you are planning to be in bed early on the 24th.

๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿฝ๏ธ ๐ŸŽ… If you want to treat yourself to a fancy Christmas dinner with other travelers you can head to Earth Lodge. They host a 3-course meal with a live band for 300 Quetzales (40 USD). The lodge is in the hills above Antigua so you will have the best view of the fireworks at midnight.

Red fireworks at night above Antigua's church on the main square

7. Hike Acatenango

One of the main reasons many people travel to Antigua is to hike Acatenango. From the top, you can see Fuego erupting at sunrise and sunset. Some companies will even do a special Christmas meal at the top for you!

It is an amazing sight and one of the best things to do in Antigua. So if you feel like an adventurous Christmas in Antigua Guatemala you can hike up on Christmas night for a different type of fireworks show.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Book a Christmas Acatenango Hike here ๐ŸŒ‹

View from a roofop of Fuego erupting

Where to Stay in Antigua for Christmas

Antigua is generally not a cheap place to stay and prices can go up over Christmas or sell out quickly. But if you book in advance you should still find good options.

Antigua Housesitting

A cozy way to spend Christmas is in someoneโ€™s house while they celebrate somewhere else. You can sign up for free to Trusted Housesitters and apply for a pet sit! We have done multiple petsits around the world, most of them in Mexico.

You will look after someoneโ€™s home and pet while they are away and get a free place to stay in return. There are responsibilities involved but you will still have enough free time.

There arenโ€™t as many housesits in Guatemala as in other countries, but at least once a month we see one pop up in Antigua, Guatemala City or Lake Atitlan. Plus, pet sitters are in high demand during Christmas time!

Sign up to Trusted House Sitters for free + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount on your membership! ๐Ÿถ Read about how it works and our experiences here.

TrustedHousesitters - See the world in a new way

Antigua Hostels

Antigua has plenty of cheap hostels to stay at but two are standing out to me. Plus I have stayed in both of them during my first trip to Guatemala.

๐Ÿ›Œ Somos Hostel โ€“ they have excellent reviews from thousands of guests and a great location in central Antigua. A dorm bed costs 15 USD per night and each bed has its own pod and privacy curtain.

๐Ÿ›Œ Tropicana Hostel โ€“ has more of a party vibe so might be the better choice for New Yearโ€™s. It is a super popular hostel with a bar and they also organize hikes to Fuego which is a must-do in Antigua. Dorm beds cost 10 USD per night.

Book the cheapest Antigua hostels here or search for more here ๐Ÿ‘‡

A tuktuk driving through the yellow Santa Catalina Arch

Antigua Hotels

There are also plenty of hotels in Antigua ranging from budget-friendly to 5 stars. I have listed here two great cheap options plus one fancy one for you.

๐Ÿ˜ด Posada Maya โ€“ is the cheapest hotel I was able to find. The rooms are very basic but clean and a double room can cost as little as 15 USD per night!

๐Ÿ˜ด Magnolias โ€“ is a great choice if you have a higher budget. They have very tidy beautiful rooms for around 60 USD a night.

๐Ÿ˜ด Santo Domingo โ€“ is for the luxurious traveler who wants to stay somewhere special for Christmas. This Hotel Spa Museum is built in Antigua ruins! It is beautifully decorated for Christmas and hosts a Christmas dinner.

Search for more hotels here or here ๐Ÿ‘‡

Antigua Airbnb

We spent two months in an Airbnb in December and January just outside Antigua and we loved it. Our host Evelyn was super friendly and her property is a beautiful, peaceful place.

Currently, one month in one of Evelynโ€™s studios is 1200 USD which is out of our price range. But we were lucky enough to get a good discount from Airbnb.

The rooms have their own kitchen, fast wifi and an amazing volcano view. So everything you could want as a digital nomad. Plus in the festivities season, Evelyn turned her property into a Christmas Wonderland full of lights!

Did our tips help you out? Say thanks with a coffee here! ๐Ÿ’›

View from an Airbnb balcony in Antigua Guatemala towards a volcano

Enjoy Christmas in Antigua Guatemala!

Spending Christmas away from home can be a strange experience if you are not used to it. But choosing to have Christmas in Antigua Guatemala will enrich your memories. Itโ€™s a magical place full of interesting traditions, quirky details and lovely people.

Let us know in the comments where you will spend this yearโ€™s Christmas. Hopefully in Antigua, Guatemala! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ Bookmark this page for later and make sure to check out our other articles on Antigua which we have linked down below for you.


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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