The best time to visit Guatemala

Updated: 04th February 2019

Tikal in Guatemala - Best time to visit - On The Go Tours
The ancient ruins of Tikal can be visited at any time of year

Seasons and Weather

There is a rainy season throughout Central America which starts around May/June and gradually works its way through until September and even sometimes October. Don't be put off by the term rainy season, as this generally only means sporadic downpours a couple of times a day. Of course there are times when this is not the case but it is fairly rare for continual rain to persist. The only place where rain is almost guaranteed is Rio Dulce, located in the middle of the rainforest. Here the rainy season sometimes continues until February.

The temperatures in Guatemala are similar to other northern hemisphere countries, where it's warmer in summer (July/August) and cooler in winter (December/January). Cool nights and mornings are typical of December through to February along with clear and sunny days. In the Guatemalan Highlands temperatures at night time are quite cool (Antigua, Lake Atitlan and especially Quetzaltenango). For example December/January nights in the highlands can drop to zero centigrade. Generally, the hottest time in Guatemala will be the months of April to May before the rain comes.

Thinking of visiting Guatemala? Download a copy of our Latin America brochure for inspiration.

Climate | Guatemala City


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C121214141616161616161413
Temp Max °C232527282927262626242322
Rainfall (mm)831331152274203198231173238

Upcoming events

To help plan your visit to Guatemala, here's an overview of the festivals and events taking place over the next year:

2019:

December 7th - La Quema del Diablo (nationwide)
December 13th-21st - Fiesta de Santo Tomas (Chichicastenango)
Dates TBC - Maya New Year (nationwide)

2020:

February TBC - Coffee Harvest Celebration (Frajianes)

There's also a number of national holidays in Guatemala and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Fiesta de Santo Tomas - Guatemala best time to visit - On The Go Tours
Visit Guatemala during the colourful Fiesta de Santo Tomas

Festivals and Events

The people of Guatemala happily embrace their Maya roots and have successfully incorporated them into everyday life. Their festivals are certainly no exception to this. Whether it’s honouring the gods or ridding themselves of evil, the Guatemalans go all out when it comes to festivals and food, music and bright colours are the norm.

What is the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)?

This is a popular Latin American festival that is celebrated the length and breadth of Guatemala. The festivities take place over three days with the first being mainly used to prepare for the coming two days. November 1st is the first proper day of the festival and is used to commemorate children that have been lost. The following day is a more general remembrance of the deceased. It is only during this time that fiambre is made, a dish that consists of meats, cheeses, vegetables and canned goods, arranged into an elegant salad.

What is La Quema del Diablo?

Dating back to colonial times, this festival sees people from across the country gather to burn the devil and in doing so rid their country of his evil presence in order to start afresh. In the week running up to the event, markets are full of papier-mache devils that locals can buy to throw on their own private flames. The main event of the evening is a huge model of the devil being burned at the stroke of six in a public place to the sound of cheering crowds.

What is the Fiesta de Santo Tomas?

The celebrations for the Fiesta de Santo Tomas are in honour of the patron saint of Chichicastenango, a highland town with an equally high spirit. The festival features dancing, music, parades and more but the real piece de resistance doesn’t take place until the final day. On December 21st, poles that reach up to 30m in height are erected in the central plaza and courageous dancers scale them before launching from the top tied by a rope around the waist. As they fall, they swirl and dance and spin around the pole until they reach the ground.

What is the Coffee Harvest Celebration?

If you think you like coffee, wait until you see the veneration given to it by the Guatemalans. As one of the world’s main exporters of coffee, this precious bean is not just culturally significant but has a huge impact on the country’s economy. Every year when the harvest begins, the town of Frajianes erupts with colour and sound as processions pass through the town and locals sing and dance until the early hours with coffee in abundance.

What happens at Maya New Year?

In accordance with ancient traditions, the people of Guatemala celebrate the Maya New Year with gusto. The colour blue, considered sacred by the Maya, makes regular appearances and whichever god is being celebrated that year is elaborately worshipped with paintings and idols. Nowadays, the celebrations have been modernised and locals participate in baseball games and social bonfires.

What is the Coban Folklore Festival?

Also known as Rabin Ajau, this festival, which takes place in the Central Highlands, is a glorious showcase of Maya culture and traditions. The event features a number of music and dance performances as well as a beauty pageant that sees one Maya beauty crowned as queen. Traditional costumes are usually worn and you can be sure that there will be plenty to eat and drink during the celebrations.

See Also

For more information to assist planning your trip to Guatemala check out our handy Travel Guide resources:

Best Places to Visit - where to go and what to see in Guatemala
Tourist Visas - regulations on visa procurement for Guatemala
Top Travel Tips - money, health and food in Guatemala
Style of Travel - what to expect on our Latin America group tours