If you’re in Todos Santos Cuchumatán  on November 1 (All Saints’ Day) and love a good party, you won’t want to miss the three-day annual town festival, at the center of which is a series of horse races. There’s plenty of drinking, dancing, and marimba music during this time.
The race begins with costumed riders galloping from one end of the 600-yard course, drinking aguardiente upon their arrival at the course’s other extreme before heading back once again. The back-and-forth pattern is a survival of the fittest with riders struggling to hang on as the race (and drunken stupor) reach a crescendo.
Traditionally, the riders hit the horses with live chickens, though in recent years they have begun switching to whips. The races sometimes continue well into the afternoon.
By the end of the day, most people are lying passed out in the streets or in bars (if they’re lucky) in a drunken spectacle rivaled in few places in Guatemala. There are always a few drunken brawls and some folks who wind up in the town jail.
The next day is Day of the Dead, and the festivities transition to the local cemetery, where families visit departed relatives, marking their gravestones with candles and flowers. There’s also more music and dance as part of the final day of celebration.