PILLARO, Ecuador – The 'devils' invade this picturesque highlands town just before New Year's day and take over its streets for eight days, donning fearful masks to dance to the rhythms of local bands.
Ecuador's annual 'Diablada' festival fills 12 blocks of this town 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Quito and ends on Three Kings Day, the Roman Catholic holiday celebrated on Jan. 6
Plenty of liquor is imbibed and local fare consumed while street vendors take advantage of the influx of thousands of tourists to sell paintings of the Virgin Mary.
'Diablada' festivals are held in several Andean nations. They mix pre-colonial with Catholic traditions, celebrating the clash of good and evil.
One popular explanation for the Pillaro version is that it began as a way for men to anonymously court women.
The masks that participants don typically include enormous horns, pointed ears and diabolical smiles. Costumes extend to black capes and long tails.