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  • Festivals and Special Dates

    January:

    Monarch Butterfly Tours in Michoacan

    Since time immemorial, monarch butterflies have taken the long journey of 2500 miles from Canada and the northern U.S. to the Oyamel forest in Michoacan, a southwest state of Mexico. Here they create storybook scenes amongst the enormous fir trees, all two hundred and fifty million of these delicate creatures. The magical beauty of their group movements, highlighted by their shimmering color, will leave you gasping. Imagine the joy of all, from grandparent to grandchild, as they land on your family, coming to rest on your arms and head.

    There are many options on how to see this natural wonder, from day trips out of Morelia, to a full week of touring the gorgeous Michoacan country side with its colonial villages and ambling rivers. These Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves are located about 100 miles east, or a two-hour drive, of Morelia. There is a one-way bus from Morelia run by Autobus de Occidente at +52 4312 0600. You can also reach Zitacuaro, a good jumping point to these destinations, from Mexico City, which is a three-hour drive away.

    There are many options on how to see this natural wonder, from day trips out of Morelia, to a full week of touring the gorgeous Michoacan country side with its colonial villages and ambling rivers. These Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves are located about 100 miles east, or a two-hour drive, of Morelia. There is a one-way bus from Morelia run by Autobus de Occidente at +52 4312 0600. You can also reach Zitacuaro, a good jumping point to these destinations, from Mexico City, which is a three-hour drive away.

    El Capulín
    From Morelia, the capital of the State of Michoacan, you can drive through the beautiful pine forests of Los Azufres National Park until you arrive at the Sanctuary where millions of butterflies will be awaiting you. Also, make sure to take time to visit the first Franciscan monastery in Mexico located right near by. Plus, a little to the south is El Salto de Enandio, a 160 meter waterfall that pours into a tropical garden setting, which is conveniently located near San Felipe, an archeological site complete with pyramids.

    Sierra Chincua
    Besides the adventures located nearby at El Capulín, Sierra Chincua also offers its own unique natural jewels. For the more daring, you can visit El Casique, a mountain offering one of the highest points in the area just outside Zitacuaro. Here you can rappel along the cliff face and view the countryside from truly matchless vistas. Also for the more athletically inclined is the chance to shoot the rapids on the River Balsas, which is in a desert-like climate making for nice stops for a quick dip in the river along the way.

    January 6, Tres Reyes Magos or Three Kings’ Day

    Even though children in the United States are basking the post-glow of presents from Christmas, kids in Mexico are gearing up for what is most likey their favorite part of the holiday season- Los Tres Reyes Magos, or Three Kings’ Day in English.


    Three Kings’ Day falls on January 6, or the Day of the Epiphany. It commemorates the Three Wise Men, Mechior, Gaspar, and Baltazar, who followed the Star of Bethlehem to the manger and Jesus. Balthazar was a Nubian king from Ethiopia, and brought myrrh as his gift. Melchor, the Sultan of Arabia, came bearing gold. And Gaspar was Emperor of the Orient and ruled over all Asian lands; he brought frankincense. These three gifts represented the spiritual wealth of the child; frankincense, which signifies the earth and the sky; and Myrrh, the oil which was used for medicinal as well as spiritual purposes. In some regions, the three kings each have their own feast day—January 8th, 7th, and 6th, respectively.

    During this time it is customary to invite friends and neighbors into your home for Rosca de Reyes- a sweet twisted loaf also know as the Wreath of the Kings. Besides the symbolism of the bread as that of the never-ending universe, there is also a small doll, which represents the Christ child being hidden from Herod’s army. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice of sweet bread is then obligated to have a party on February 2nd, Candlemas Day, or Día de la Candelaria. Here they will offer tamales and atole (a hot, sweet drink thickened with corn flour) to their guests. Also on Three Kings’ Day in Mexico, the children will receive the majority of their gifts rathethanon Christmas.

    Nacimientos, From Navidad to Three Kings’ Day or Until Día de la Candelaria

    Ever since Saint Francis of Assisi built the first nativity scene in an Italian cave in 1223, the scene of the manger has become a staple of the Christmas season everywhere. But the tradition of Nacimientos in Mexico differs greatly from that of the usual 14-piece Nativity scene sold north of the border. In Mexico, sometimes entire rooms of a home are needed for the elaborate settings, comprising of hundreds of pieces constituting a miniature village surrounding the stable. These charming and unusual hand-made figures represent a wide variety of images from women making tortillas, the infidels in Egypt, farmers milking cows, mothers nursing infants, vegetable and pottery merchants and a large variety of shepherds in various events of their day. These figurines are usually made of clay, wax, wood, metal, and fabric, with some even bending the aspect of time to include the Garden of Eden, Saint John the Baptist, Jesus at the well with Mary Magdalene, Mary at the Cross, and other assorted biblical scenes. This religious event wraps up either on Three King’s Day or carries on all the way to Día de la Candelaria on February 2. Then, a great feast is prepared and traditional drinks are served to all the guests.

    December 25 to January 6, The Acostamiento Celebration
    After the baby Jesus is traditionally placed in the Christmas Nativity scene, in Mexico they have an Acostamiento (which means to place to sleep) party. A godmother/ or a godfather is chosen for the baby Jesus, which is usually dressed in handmade clothing specific for only this event. The fiesta starts with a march led by the godparent presenting the baby Jesus on a decorative platter. Everyone else follows singing traditional lullabies while children carry sparklers to light the path for the procession.

    January 6 to February 2, Levantamiento Party Celebration
    After the acostamiento, the same godparent is now in charge of the Levantamiento (which means the awakening). With the baby Jesus now standing up or in a sitting position on chair, the godparent now decides on several choices of miniature attire. Among them are the black San Martín de Porres from Peru or as Corazón de Jesús (the bleeding heart) or Niño de Atocha. All around Mexio, these outfits, called huarches, are sold, along with the miniature chairs for the sitting position. When people arrive for the fiesta, they are greeted with trays of rompope in jarritos or ollitas (little pots). Rompope is a traditional Mexican Christmas drink closely resembling eggnog, consistinh of milk, cinnamon, eggs, a bit of alcohol and on occasions almonds. At the end of the party, cookies, peanuts and tejocotes, which are tiny orange-colored fruits, are presented as aquinaldos to the guests.

    January 17, St. Anthony’s Day
    On this Saint’s Day, people take their animals to be blessed at Church of San Antonio and other churches throughout Mexico. Legend has it that during St. Anthony’s periods of prayer and fasting in the desert, his only companions were the animals. The blessing of animals on the Feast of St. Anthony is considered auspicious, keeping away evil forces from the home, bringing fertility, and regeneration to the land. A Sardinian legend has it that during his life there was no fire in the world and the people appealed to St. Anthony, who went to knock on Hell’s gate, accompanied by his little piglet (the hermit’s only companion). The terrified devils – who knew of his powers and considered him invincible – refused to open the door. The piglet, however, squeezed in through a slit and frolicked about the devils’ abode, tormenting them. Their only solution was to beseech St. Anthony to come into Hell to get the pig! As the Saint and the joyful piglet returned to earth, the Saint’s walking stick caught fire and so warmth was brought to earth. St Anthony’s iconographic symbols in art are the walking stick and the piglet and he is the bearer of fire, that is life. Also, a historical side note, on this day in 1821, México permitted Moses Austin and 300 mostly Germanic families to

    January 21, Natalicio del General Ignacio Allende y Unzaga
    (General Ignacio Allende’s Birthday)
    On January 21st., military and civic parades are held to commemorate the birthday of Insurgent hero General Ignacio Allende y Unzaga.

    January 24, Departure of Pilgrims for San Juan de los Lagos
    From the train tracks of San Miguel, many faithful take the long walk to pay tribute to the Virgen de San Juan de Los Lagos, in the state of Jalisco.

    February:
    Day Trips from San Miguel de Allende

    Carnaval in Veracruz and Mazatlán, February 15-24
    Nine days before Lent, the biggest Carnaval celebrations north of Brazil take place in both Veracruz and Mazatlán. Celebrating with the same concept as Mardi Gras in the United States, the Mexicans take it to a different level with their parades, floats, costumes, music, dancing, and crazy all-night partying. We offer in-depth travel breakdowns of both cities below, but first let’s find out more about how Carnaval is different than what you might expect in New Orleans and Galveston.

    The festival opens with the ceremony Quema del Mal Humor or The Burning of Bad Humor. This event basically entails the light-hearted chasing, persecution, and burning of a personage known as Mal Humor or bad mood. Once this has been accomplished, the personage is buried so the throngs of people can sing and dance in the streets to irresistible Caribbean/Spanish music all night long. On Saturday night, the coronation of the Queen, who is Carnaval’s most important figure, takes place. She then crowns El Rey Feo or the Ugly King into her court. After many more madcap parades, Carnaval concludes on Fat Tuesday with the last courtship and Funeral of Juan Carnaval, the most lavish of all parades.

    The parades include beautiful, slightly dressed women shaking to Latin rhythms on large floats know as carros alegóricos or allegorical cars. Also, local dance groups from villages don their traditional headdresses and perform pre-Columbian dances to the over-riding music that saturates both cities. Special highlights not to be missed are the costumed bailes tropicales, groups who dance to salsa rhythms with such amazing grace and precision that you will just have to join in.

    So please read below and choose your destination of Veracruz or Mazatlán for one of the most exciting events in the whole world!

    Candelaria Day, February 2, sets the tone for February. It’s a celebration that has its origins in Christianity-it marks forty days, more or less, after the birth of Christ, when he would have been presented at the Temple, also known as Candlemas Day. In San Miguel this day has also come to herald the arrival of spring. Starting February 2, and running for at least a week, Benito Juárez Park is abloom with a huge plant sale. Available for purchase are everything from trees and bushes in pots, plants and flowers for the garden, tiny cactus in tin can planters, and ceramic pots and fertilizer. It’s truly a spectacle as the park is literally overflowing with beauty and a heavenly aroma-don’t miss it!

    February 5th is the Day of the Constitution, which is a national holiday. Schools and most businesses are closed on this day.

    February 14, San Miguelenses note Valentine’s Day as a day of “friendship and love.”

    Feb.16-18 Xochimilco, D.F., Festival del Amaranto – Amaranth Festival
    In this southernmost part of Mexico City, which is famous for its ancient floating gardens, a festival dedicated to the pre-hispanic grain features amaranth, and the many ways they use it in Mexico. Some styles are moles, hot drinks, sweet snack bars called alegrías, and many cereals and noodles. A huge crafts market is a permanent feature.

    Feb 23-25 Canelas, Durango, Feria Regional del Café y del Guayaba – Coffee and Guava Fair. If you are a coffee lover, then you must visit this festival once. They offer a wide variety of java blends and guava preserves, conserves and marmelades, as well as regional comidas and antojitos in the rugged, wildly beautiful mountains of north central Mexico.

    And flags festoon homes and buildings on February 24, Mexican Flag Day.

    March:
    Day Trips from San Miguel de Allende:
    Spring Equinox at Chichén Itzá, March 21
    Get ready for the Spring Equinox on March 21, in the town of Chichén Itzá, Yucatan! Guaranteed, you’ve never seen anything like this one, which puts most solar eclipses and meteor showers to shame! Possibly one of the greatest sights to see in your lifetime, the Mayan pyramid of Chichén Itzá, also known as El Castillo, is the setting for the Spring Equinox and is one of the most magnificent surviving monuments of the Mayan civilization. It is extraordinary that a civilization which evolved as early as 1500BC managed to build a monument of incomprehensible scale to highlight the time of year when the hours of daylight and darkness are equal. At exactly 1:31 pm GMT, one can witness quite a sight: a feathered serpent lit by the sun as it appears to be slithering its way down the steps towards the well of sacrifice. This is becoming quite a popular event, so book your tickets now! Since there are few hotels near the ruins, you might want to book accommodations as far away as Mérida.

    Directions: Chichén-Itzá is 205km east of Cancún on Route 180 and 120km from Mérida. Buses run regularly from both places.
    Tourist office: Yucatan Tourism
    Phone: +52 (0) 9924 9495 or +52 (0) 9924 9677
    Email: turismo@yucatan.gob.mx
    Chichen Itza travel: www.tripadvisor.com

    Annual Witch Gathering in Catemaco, March 3th
    Let us begin with the Annual Witch Gathering (Noche de Brujas). This event always takes place the first Friday of every March, and this year it will be on March 3th. Since pre-Hispanic times, Lake Catemaco, in the State of Veracruz, has been a center for alternative medicine and strange doings. It is thought that the area’s association with witchcraft dates back more than 2000 years to Olmec times. Sound interesting? Get ready for a wild experience of witch doctors and healers, who converge on the town, plying their wares. Remember the movie Medicine Man with Sean Connery? If so, you’ll know to prepare for an onslaught of traditional witch doctors, healers, and wizards who converge on this beautiful town every March. Granted, some of these witches are probably nothing more than charlatans who are after a fast buck, but don’t be surprised to find the true witch or shaman who may have just the right cure for you! This event will take place all day long and is free, except for cost of buying your protective amulets!

    Look for Indian danzantes to be dancing in front of the Parroquia from dawn until dusk Friday, March 5. The traditional dancers are honoring El Señor de la Conquista, a statue of Christ housed in the Parroquia that was carried into battle by friars who came to San Miguel to convert the rebellious Chichimeca. People who enter the Parroquia this day say 33 prayers, one for each of the years of Jesus’ life. Scores of dancers don elaborate pre-Hispanic costumes, replete with plumed headdresses and other indigenous garb and perform for most of the day in front of the Parroquia(photo courtesy of Bill Begalke.)

    St. Patrick’s Day is March 17 San Miguel’s Irish can be seen wearing green and sometimes even marching in the center of town. The highly regarded Irish Film Festival will continue this year at Villa Jacaranda, and starts on Sunday the 13th and runs till March 19.

    Cumbre Tajin, March 18-21
    If the cold up North is too much for you, perhaps a little pampering or nurturing of the body, mind, and spirit are just what you need! Every year on March 18-21, a celebration of life takes place in an area long believed to be steeped in mystic tradition. Veracruz is once again the center of attention, as you venture to a town called Papantla for the sacred Cumbre Tajin. This event invites spiritually-minded souls to enjoy several days of non-stop entertainment and surprises, featuring singers, dancers, soul purifiers, among many others. Ever been inside a temazcal (ancient form of steam bath)? You’re in for a real treat! Apart from the steam baths, one can find healings and many alternative therapies (such as yoga, Aztec flowers, and Reiki). There are also workshops for breathing, pottery, candles, knitting. All this takes place in the area where the old Totonac people traditionally lived. The Cumbre seek to recapture qualities reflecting their allegiance to the Earth and mysticism.

    Directions: This is an ancient sacred place, 13km from the city of Papantla, in the area of Totonacapan, in northern Veracruz. The town is located just off highway 180, southeast from Poza Rica.

    Phone: 01-800-800-0000
    Email: felgue1@avantel.net

    On March 21, the nation celebrates the birthday of their hero and ex-president Dia de Benito Juarez, just after the first day of spring is noted with children’s parades on March 20.

    Easter in San Miguel:

    April 2, Image of El Señor de la Columna, Two Sundays before Easter

    Viernes de los Dolores, Friday of the Sorrows, April 7
    Special masses at the Oratorio and San Francisco, and streets fill with families who travel from door to door visiting creative and elaborate home altars throughout town erected in honor of Our Lady of the Sorrows.

    Domingo de Ramos, Palm Sunday, April 9
    Entry procession to 12 o’clock mass in the Parroquia starts in the Parque Juárez at 10 a.m., with music, singing, and fireworks. Houses along Sollano are decorated for the occasion.

    The Lesser Days: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, April 10-12
    Special masses held at local churches, with images used in a continuing effort to produce contrition for sin, gratitude, and love for God and Christ, with a Wednesday afternoon procession from the Oratorio to the Church of San Rafael.

    Jueves Santo: The Last Supper, April 13
    On the Day of the Altars, an evening mass commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. As a part of the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, worshipers visit seven churches on this day. This is also the day when most businesses close their doors and don’t reopen until after Easter Sunday.

    Viernes Santo: Good Friday, April 14
    Three processions druing the day, including Señor de la Columna, The Way of the Cross, and the Holy Burial, beginning at San Juan, the Parroquia, and the Oratorio, respectively. The image of the Señor de la Columna was carved and painted in 1823 for Atotonilco, and has been used ever since. It is brought to the San Juan church in an overnight procession from Atotonilco to San Miguel two weeks before Easter Sunday.

    Domingo de la Resurrección: Easter Sunday,April 16
    Bells and fireworks announce the arrival of Easter, usually on Saturday evening before the masses even start. Four parts of the Saturday evening mass include the Liturgies of Light, Word, Baptism and Eucharist. Sunday morning masses are small in comparison, and are followed by a big feast. The Jardín is full of people, and Judas figures are filled with fireworks and explode from a line suspended in front of the municipal building.

    April:
    Day Trips from San Miguel de Allende:

    Cuernavaca Flower Fair, April 1-7th

    Cuernavaca, also known as the City of Eternal Spring, will be having their Flower Fair, showcasing the beauty of Mexican botany. Exhibitions of model gardens, competitions in floriculture and gardening and a laser show are just some of the attractions at this annual event. There is also plenty of Mexican cuisine and entertainment for all ages.

    The Flower Fair is always held during Holy Week and is held in and around one of Mexico’s most beautiful public parks, the Jardin Borda. The Jardin was built in 1783 from revenue generated by the local silver mine. When Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota decided to make Cuernavaca their summer residence, the park was brought to its modern form.

    Cuernavaca is a short drive from Mexico City (80km), but lies at a much lower altitude. The town is a popular destination for foreigners wishing to learn Spanish, and boasts various museums and attractions, including Cortes’ Palace which is now the Museo Cuaunahuac.

    For more information on this event:
    Tel: 52 (0) 77 7314 3654
    Tel: 52 (0) 77 7314 3081
    Email: turismo@morelos.evmorelos.gob.mx
    Click here for our complete breakdown of Cuernavaca.

    San Marcos Fair in Aguascalientes, Second Week in April
    San Marcos Fair, held from the second week in April to the first week of May each year, was originally founded in 1604 when the town was a small indigenous Indian settlement. The fair’s religious origins, long forgotten, have been replaced with a cheerful and colorful three-week spectacular. Visitors from all over Mexico and the United States come to enjoy bullfights, folkoric dancing, elaborate games, cockfights, cultural events and, of course, the Mexican-style fiesta feel.

    You can have fortune told by a trained and supposedly clairvoyant canary, visit vendors who trade in a entertaining ‘Heads I win, tails you do’ system of payment, try your luck with the fighting cocks in the modern ‘Casino’ which houses Latin America’s biggest ‘palenque’, or do some quality people watching at the paseo, in which young women walk around the park in one direction, young men in the other.

    Recently, a major attraction has been the wine pavilion where major local producers press free samples of their best vintages on visitors. The fair is the oldest, most famous and largest in all of Mexico.

    For a complete breakdown of Aguacalientes, click here!

    April 30th is Día del Niñoor Kids Day in Mexico during which children are honored with parties and gifts.

    April 27 – May 1, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas: 2006 International Marimba Festival (Festival Internacional de Marimbistas) – Held at the Casa de Cultura de Venustiano Carranza, come here the exotic and thrilling sounds of the marimba! The tradition and the rich sounds of the marimba (the large xylophones) are performed by local, regional and international musicians. Plus the usual fireworks, food, and vendors that go along with any Mexican fiesta.
    For more on Chiapas click here!

    May:

    Day Trips from San Miguel de Allende:
    Cinco de Mayo in Puebla, May 5
    On Cinco de Mayo( May 5), the people of Puebla re-enact the famous defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. That year, President Benito Juárez sent a woefully under-equipped army of 2000 Mexicans to defend against a professional French army of 6000. With that victory, which was the first step of ridding themselves of the French Imperialist, the Mexicans gained an enduring symbol of unity and patriotism.

    Celebrations include parades of the townspeople dressed up as French, signified by the wine bottles sticking out of their knapsacks, and Mexicans with swords. The women dress up as soldaderos, wearing skirts and flowery hats, in remembrance of the brave women who travelled with the Mexican army to cook and care for the soldiers.

    Around mid-afternoon on May 5, the battle begins in the central plaza. Rifles and cannons add noise and smoke to the festive air. At nightfall, the Mexican and French generals meet alone to battle it out, with the Mexican general winning to the delight of all. The evening ends in a big fireworks display.
    The fiesta also includes games, food stalls, strolling mariachi bands and a bullfight. To read more on Puebla, please click here for a complete tourist guide.

    May 1 Labor Daylegal holiday in México

    Fiesta of St. Isador the Farmer in Tepic, Nayarit
    May 3 to 15

    This Saint’s Day is for Saint Isidro Labrador, a Spanish worker saint who tilled the soil, an obvious choice for a patron saint in this mostly agrian state in Mexico, and held in Tepic, the state capital of Nayarit. While May 15 is the actual saint’s day, the peak of the festivities will take place on the eve of the feast, May 14. This is the night of traditional castillos, or “castles”, which are in reality cane or wooden towers rigged with fireworks.

    When lit, these castillos turn into a wondrously choreographed display of pyrotechnical magic. Also on this night, the chetero, or “rocket maker”, also creates los toritos, or “little bulls”, which are effigies of bulls and other figures. Carried on the head and shoulders of local youths, they fill Tepic with loud explosions of fire and smoke as they are rush around the town square.
    For information on Tepic, please call:
    (32) 406-93 or (324) 316-82
    Secretary of Tourism, State of Nayarit
    (0132) 14 80 71   (0132) 14 80 73
    E-mail: turnay@foreigner.uan.mx

    May 3 Feast of Santa CruzDay of masons & builders

    The 5th marks the renown holiday commonly referred to as Cinco de Mayo,” or the Battle of Puebla. Contrary to popular belief, this day does not celebrate Mexican independence, but rather the triumph of a small group of soldiers who successfully defeated a French batallion twice its size near thecity of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo honors this defeat, and commemorates its role in the overthrow of the Mexican Imperial Monarchy, which was imposed by Napoleon III, Emperor of France and the Mexican conservatives “Club de Notables”. This monarchy ruled from 1864 to 1867 under the ruler Maximilian of Austria.

    The day is an enduring symbol of nationalism and is celebrated both in Mexico and the United States with music, dancing, food and drink.

    May 10 marks the arrival of Mother’s Day, or Día de las Madres, in Mexico, (it’s on the 9th in the US) and is celebrated with gusto. Flowers, gifts and special programs at schools mark the event, and it’s common for stores and offices to give out ‘recuerdos’ to the mothers who frequent them on this day. Perhaps most endearing is a practice here in which many Mexican churches feature early morning singing of Las Mañanitas and distribute tamales and atole to all the local moms.

    May 15 Day of San Isidro: Patron of Rain & Agriculture

    May 19 : Corpus Christi Fair (Feria de Corpus Christi)—Papantla, Veracruz. This annual religious festival consists of parades and church services. Voladores, or flyers, perform spectacular feats, launching themselves from the top of a pole (often reaching as high as 100 feet), and slowly descending as the ropes around the pole unwind. During this ancient Náhuatl and Totonac ritual, each volador circles the pole 13 times before reaching the ground, for a total of 52 turns. The ceremony is said to promote fertility, communicate with the heavens and honor the sun.

    For more information on Veracruz click here!

    May 20 Ascension Day

    May 30
    Fiesta at Valle del Maíz

    June:
    Festival of the Month:
    June 19 marks yet another festival in San Miguel de Allende. San Antonio de Padua is honored all over Mexico, but in San Miguel it is often associated with the very popular, Día de los Locos. The festival and parade actually celebrate Spring.

    The parade of “locos” consists of people from various neighborhoods, businesses and families who don elaborate and colorful costumes that range from political characters and animals to birds and cross-dressing men. They throw inordinate amounts of candy at spectators, and often will convince an unsuspecting bystander to join the party and dance. It starts at the San Antonio church and works its way up Zacateros, Hernández Macías, Insurgentes, Aparicio, Nuñez and down San Francisco to end in the the Jardín.

    June 14–July 14: National Ceramics Award Fair and Fiesta of San Pedro–Tlaquepaque, JaliscoOn the outskirts of Guadalajara, this annual event offers exhibits, demonstrations and competitions of the finest Mexican pottery. This an excellent opprotunity to see all of Mexico’s renowned handmade objects at one time. Saving you from having to travel to each region of the country, craftsmen come to sell their wares in a fiesta atmosphere. Also, Mulitas (mules), handmade from dried cornhusks and painted, are traditionally sold outside all churches on that day to represent a prayer for fertility.

    For more information on Guadalajara click here!

    June 26 Anniversary of the Death of General Ignacio Allende

    July:
    Festival of the Month:

    Villista Horseback Ride, (Cabalgata Villista)
    Chihuahua, Chihuahua, July 22

    More than 1000 people take part in this horseback riding adventure which covers 136 miles from the City of Chihuahua to Hidalgo del Parral. Entire families are welcome to participate.

    The first cavalcade took place in 1996 with less than five hundred riders; nine years later, the IX Villista Cavalcade is expecting to host 1,200 riders from all over the country as well as adventure seekers from several countries.

    Visit www.chihuahua.gob.mx or contact +52-627-523-4070 for more information.

    9th Festival of Adventure Tourism (9th Festival de Turismo de Aventura)
    Chihuahua, Chihuahua, July 2-23

    Athletes compete for cash prizes at this festival featuring everything from marathons and triathlons to mountain biking and sand-boarding. If the competition doesn’t take your breath away, the lush scenery will. Contact Rita Meraz at the tourism office atmerazrita@hotmail.com or visit

    www.chihuahua.gob.mx/turismoweb

    Guelaguetza, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, July 1-25
    Dating back to pre-Hispanic times when the festival was offered to the gods in hopes of a bountiful harvest, these offerings for life take place midway through the rainy reason. The Feast of Xiloen, goddess of corn, falls on July 16, and is the beginning of the two weeks of celebration.

    Overlooking the present city of Oaxaca is the hill known as ‘Cerro del Fortín’ from the location of Aztec garrisons there in the 15th century. This ridge was a popular place for outings and came to be the traditional place for celebrating the Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the Hill) when the Guelaguetza began to focus on the celebrations held on the two Mondays following the feast of the Virgin of Carmen on July 16.

    There is also the Bani Stui Gulal, a dramatic presentation of how the Guelaguetza has been celebrated in different epochs, plus the presentation of the Legend of Donaji on each of the Monday nights in the Guelaguetza Auditorium. The Legend of Donaji is the story of the last Zapotec princess, full of light, sound, fireworks and drama.

    For a complete breakdown of this event please click here.
    For our travel guide to visiting Oaxaca click here!

    National Sarape Fair (Feria Nacional de Sarape)
    Sta. Ana Chiautempan, Tlaxcala, July 19 – August 3

    The renowned rectangular “sarape” shawls are spotlighted every year at this annual fair and are one of Mexico’s traditional textile handicrafts. Different styles are produced in various regions of Mexico, with local culture influencing design. The festival also features other handicrafts, cultural and sporting events.
    Visit the Tlaxcala Tourism page,
    And see our travel guide to visiting Tlaxcala!


    International Festival of Contemporary Dance
    July 27 – August 11

    (Festival Internacional de Danza Contemporánea) – San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi. Festival celebrating contemporary dance and featuring national and international artists from various countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, Japan and Venezuela.

    Visit the offical website of the Festival for Contemporary Dance for more details.

    August:

    Festival of the Month:
    Wine Harvest Festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia)
    Ensenada, Baja California, August 1-10
    The Fiestas de las VendimiasWine Harvest Festivalin and around Ensenada, takes place every summer in August. The wine is grown in the Gaudalupe Valley in conditions that are remarkably similar to those in southwestern France. 10 days of wine tasting, music and gourmet cooking are interlaced with fiestas. A series of musical, cultural and eating events lead up to a Verbena Popular celebrating wines birth, which also highlights the main wine producers of the region. The festival also offers a variety of comida corridas, traditional Mexican main meals. A great time of year to enjoy the Pacific coast side of the Baja peninsula.

    Promoter: Assoc. de Vinicultores de Baja California
    Tel and Fax: 01 (646) 178-3038
    Email: fiestasvendimia@hotmail.com

    Click here for our travel guide to North Baja California

    The Festival de Música de Cámara will take place this year from August. This time-honored tradition brings some of the most renown musicians to San Miguel for two weeks of concerts and workshops. Now in its 26th year, the festival provides an enrichment program for both professional musicians and advanced students. Classes are taught by visiting quartets, which vary from year to year. Some of last year’s visiting quartets include the St. Petersburg String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, and the José White String Quartet, as well as individual musicians including Elinor Freer, Sadao Harada, Joji Hattori, and Jasminka Stancul. All concerts will take place in the Angela Peralta Theater, with free concerts offered to the general public by the participants every day in the Jardín, the Public Library, and in the Auditorium of Bellas Artes. For a full concert schedule and more information, visit the Festival de Música de Cámara website, or e-mail for details.


    International Amber Expo
    (Expo Ambar Internacional)
    San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
    August TBA, Casa Mazariegos,
    Centro de Convenciones
    Miguel Hidalgo No 2 Centro histórico


    Mexican amber, with its magical colors, brilliant finishes and age old history, is considered by many the finest in the world. This expo is held to highlight the excellent quality jewels elaborated with this precious material. Forty-eight different tones can be found in the amber from Chiapas which is exhibited in a variety of forms at the event from sculptures to items of jewelry. Prizes are awarded, and many cultural events accompany the conference.
    International Amber Expo
    (Expo Ambar Internacional)
    San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
    August TBA, Casa Mazariegos,
    Centro de Convenciones
    Miguel Hidalgo No 2 Centro histórico

    Mexican amber, with its magical colors, brilliant finishes and age old history, is considered by many the finest in the world. This expo is held to highlight the excellent quality jewels elaborated with this precious material. Forty-eight different tones can be found in the amber from Chiapas which is exhibitedin a variety of forms at the event from sculptures to items of jewelry. Prizes are awarded, and many cultural events accompany the conference.

    For more info contact:

    Secretaría de Desarrollo Económico
    Boulevard Díaz Ordaz 11
    Tapachula, Chipas
    C.P. 30710 México
    Tel. (962) 628-9450
    Email: expoambar@sde-chiapas.gob.mx
    Web: www.museodelambar.com.mx

    V Mushroom Fair of San Juanito (V Feria del Hongo)
    San Juanito, Chihuahua, August 12-15

    Learn more about the various types of mushrooms available and their diverse contributions to the culinary world through workshops, demonstrations and taste-testing. This event also features cooking contests and cultural events. Visit http://www.chihuahua.gob.mx/turismoweb/.
    Tel. 01 800 5080 111.

    Morismas of Bracho (Las Morismas de Bracho)
    Zacatecas, Zacatecas, August 28-31

    Other Christian versus Moors battles are held around Mexico, but none can come close to matching the elabrote pagentry of the Las Morismas de Bracho. Thousands of people simulate the battles, a tradition held annual for more than 300 years. This definitive victory is obtained when Don Juan of Austria manages to cut the head off King Moro. Both sides wear festive outfits, and it’s a classic annual Mexican fiesta.

    For more info contact:
    Consejo Estatal de Turismo de Gobierno del Estado

    Av. Hidalgo No. 403 Segundo Piso
    Col. Centro. C.P. 98000
    Tels. (492) 92 4 05 52, 92 4 03 93
    Infotur (492) 92 4 40 47
    Toll-free in Mexico: 01 800 712 40 78
    Email: dirtur@prodigy.net.mx
    Web: www.zacatecas.gob.mx

    September:
    Month of Festivals in San Miguel!

    September 13 Commemoration of the Death of the Child Heroes

    This is probably San Miguel’s busiest month of the year for fiestas and holidays. Starting with El Grito on September 15, followed byIndependence Day on the 16th, then charging into the Pamplonada (or Sanmiguelada) on September 23 and finally, La Alborada and Día de San Miguel Archangel.

    San Miguel is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico to celebrate Independence Day, filling the streets with visitors. For three hundred years the Spanish ruled Mexico’s people, but onSeptember 15, 1810 Father Hidalgo rang his local church bells and called to the people to reclaim their freedom and fight oppression. Known as el Grito, this speech started the War of Independence that lasted for eleven years, finally returning Mexican government back to its people. On the evening of Sept. 15, the Jardin fills with those wanting to celebrate their freedom and listen to a reenactment of the speech that started the war. Fireworks in the Jardin will follow, and the next day, Sept. 16, all the Independence Day festivities get underway.


    “Sangre Brava” by Britt Zaist

    Next, on Saturday, September 23 at 12:00 noon,San Miguel will host the  annual Sanmiguelada,the dangerous but popular running of the bulls. Wearing white T-shirts and red  bandanas, men (and a few women) fill the streets, with thousands of spectators watching, and bulls chasing  them. The course (which means closed streets) goes around the Jardín, up Correo, left on Corrigidora, left  on San Francisco and back to the Jardín. To attempt to cut down on injuries, San Miguel restaurants and  bars are not allowed serve alcohol after 11:00 PM on Friday night, until the event is over on Saturday  afternoon.

    12th International Mariachi and Charro Festival

    Guadalajara, Jalisco, September 1-11

    If you love mariachi music, why not see the best mariachis in the world in the mariachi capital of the world. This festival, which began in 1903, is in the native land of mariachi music; in fact its roots date back in this area to pre-Columbian times. Besides the wonderful music, they also hold conferences and learning events so you can understand the history and culture behind what you are hearing. And if that is not enough, there is also the pageantry of the charros. Way beyond your average cowboys, these men and women perform amazing feats on horseback, and the festival also includes the traditional charro horse races. Instead on a track, two horses race against each other over a predetermined length in a perfectly straight line. Spectators are allowed get within feet of these races, truly a thrilling experience.

    For more information on this festival, visit www.mariachi-jalisco.com.mx
    To visit our complete breakdown for visiting, Guadalajara, please click here.


    Tepozteco Challenge or Maria’s Nativity Party
    Tepoztlán, Morelos, September 7 and 8

    This event is held every September, and it is an elobrate performance depicting the conversion of King Tepoztecatl and his people to the Catholic religion. Every year the procession goes to the mountain and up the Tepozteco Pyramid, where they place offerings of food and drink. The next day, September 8, the Tepoztecatl baptism is held and the Maria Navidad party begins. This includes chinelo dances, and there are delicious food festivals and of course, fireworks.

    For more information on visiting Tepoztlan, Morelos, please click here.

    International Ixtapacifico Surf Competition
    Ixtepa-Zihuatanejo, Guerreo, September 21-25

    IXTAPACIFICO 2004 is a surfing event on Las Escolleras beach, Ixtapa, that a group of friends first organized years ago in September of 1991, as a homage to local surf pioneer Alejandro Pérez “El Karma”. Since then, a state or regional surfing event has been held yearly on the same beach.

    The aim of this is event is to promote surfing as a sport as well as the area Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, creating a conscience of conservation of Mexican beaches and marine life as well as of great respect and feeling for the ocean. For more information please visit their website: http://www.surf-mexico.com or email: centralsurf@hotmail.com

    Fall Equinox at Kulkulcan
    Chichén Itxá, Yucatán, September 23

    Get ready for the Fall Equinox on September 23, in the town of Chichén Itzá, Yucatan! Guaranteed, you’ve never seen anything like this one, which puts most solar eclipses and meteor showers to shame! Possibly one of the greatest sights to see in your lifetime, the Mayan pyramid of Chichén Itzá, also known as El Castillo, is the setting for the Fall Equinox and is one of the most magnificent surviving monuments of the Mayan civilization. It is extraordinary that a civilization which evolved as early as 1500BC managed to build a monument of incomprehensible scale to highlight the time of year when the hours of daylight and darkness are equal. At exactly 1:31 pm GMT, one can witness quite a sight: a feathered serpent lit by the sun as it appears to be slithering its way down the steps towards the well of sacrifice. This is becoming quite a popular event, so book your tickets now! Since there are few hotels near the ruins, you might want to book accommodations as far away as Mérida.

    Directions: Chichén-Itzá is 205km east of Cancún on Route 180 and 120km from Mérida. Buses run regularly from both places.
    Tourist office: Yucatan Tourism
    Phone: +52 (0) 9924 9495 or +52 (0) 9924 9677
    Email: turismo@yucatan.gob.mx
    Chichen Itza travel: www.tripadvisor.com

    24th International Marathon of Mexico City
    Mexico City, México, September 23

    Mexico City’s altitude and industrial climate makes this popular 26-mile marathon one of the most challenging in the world. More than 15.000 runners of all ages and from all walks of life will compete in five categories. This year, the marathon will start and end in Mexico City’s historic downtown area know as Zocalo. Of course, if you attend this race, all the culture and excitement of Mexico City is also at your finger tips.

    For more information, please visit race’s website:www.maraton.df.gob.mx

    Please see our guide to Mexico City, it will help planning this trip easier. We also included a guide to Zocalo, where the race will be held.

    October:
    Festival of the Month:

    Festival Internacional Cervantino
    Guanajauto, Guanajuato,

    It is time again for the famous Cervantino festival in the nearby city of Guanajuato. This two week festival is packed full of events including musical guests, dance performances, theater, a cinema series, and children’s activities. The styles of music vary greatly from popular to traditional Mexican to opera, but be sure to check with Ticketmasterfor entrance to certain shows. And if you love theater, every night has a different production to entertain you, and the same goes for the dancing events. The festival has put together an informative and useful website in Spanish and English, which includes a complete schedule of the event: www.festivalcervantino.gob.mx. If you have been waiting for reason to see the jewel of a city that is Guanajuato, then this is the perfect time.

    Festival Contact Info:
    Plazuela de San Francisquito I, colonia Pastita
    36090 Guanajuato, Guanajuato
    Tels. (52) (473) 731 2920
    Fax: (52) (473) 731 1150 and (52) (473) 731 1217

    Saint Michael ArchangelOn Friday, October 1 the city begins the week-long celebration of its patron saint, Saint Michael the arcangel. Friday night the Alborada is an all night fiesta ending Saturday morning from 4-5 AM with the reenactment of the battle between Saint Michael and Lucifer using fireworks that explode over the Jardín – an event not to be missed in spite of the hour. Later that Saturday, October 2, at 5 PM Entrada de Los Xúchiles (entrance of the flowers) begins at the base of Calle Canal and moves up towards the Jardín. This is a spectacular procession of four floral arrangements that rise 15 meters high, followed by dance groups from all over Mexico donning traditional costumes.

    On Sunday, October 3, Feast of San Miguel Archángel, a parade starts at noon in front of Instituto Allende and works its way up to the Jardín. To see beautiful costumes up close, visit the Instituto at around 10 AM to see the dancers getting ready. This day also kicks off the eight day Octava which is a series of processions that takes the statue of Saint Michael from the Parroquia to visit other local churches.

    Oct 10
    Feast of San Francisco

    Oct 12
    Columbus Day

    Feria de San Miguel de Allende!
    October , Open Daily

    The carnival and fair just outside of town is extremely fun and is definitely worth the price of 15 pesos. The cover charge includes all rides and even the circus! They also have a very nice food court area, and the carnival games are extremely fun. The circus, AguaCircus (though no water is involved), has all the full trappings you would expect, and even has the World’s Smallest Man. A full concert stage has been built for the music this weekend, and there will be cockfights Thursday through Saturday night. If you are looking for a cheap night out that is full of thrills, then you have to go to the fair. It is located just past the second glorita on the way to the Querétaro, just look for all the lights and rides to your left. This is also where the jalipos (rodeos) are held. The rides and games start to close down around 11pm, and the Circus shows are at 7:30pm and 9pm. Food and beer are available till 1am.

    Fiestas de Octubre 2006
    Guadalajara, Jalisco, Entire Month of October

    Fiesta de Octubre 2006 will be full of magicians and magic to bring all the joy and laughter we need to take us away from our everyday lives. That is why this years theme is “La Magia de la Risa (The Magic of Laughter).” The inaugural parade is on Sunday, October 3, and will include a procession of 20 art cars and over 350 mimes, clowns and magicians. There is also an concert on every day in October, ranging for Tigres del Norte on the 15th to Alejandro Fernández’s three night stand from the 28th to the 30th. Also every evening, there are many cultural events, fairs, parades, and a very large expo hall. This is a really large event and makes for a perfect weekend getaway or a reason to visit Guadalajara.

    Contact:
    Mariano Bárcenas S/N Fracc.
    Auditorio, Zapopan, Jalisco
    Tel: (33) 3672 6190
    Web: http://www.fiestasdeoctubre.com.mx
    Concert Info: 3647 0304 / 3647 7484
    Expo Tel: (33) 3660 3041
    Expo Email: pfoexpositores@fiestasdeoctubre.com.mx
    Click here to read our guide to Guadalajara.


    Day of San Francisco (St Francis of Assisi)
    Lake Chapala, Jalisco, October 4

    Another favorite retirement spot of foreigners is also the location for a very exciting celebration for St. Francis. Lake Chapala’s patron saint is honored with morning and evening fireworks on October 4. Located near the Chapala boardwalk on the lake that town lies on, the church named for St. Francis of Assisi is the hub for stage events, dances, activities and carnival rides. Do not miss the fishermen arriving on their boats in procession, who the lead morning and evening pilgrimages to the church for special masses in honor of San Francisco.

    For more information on visiting English-friendly Lake Chapala:
    Web: www.chapala.com
    Email: tingen@laguna.com.mx

    International Fair of San Francisco (Hidalgo State Fair)
    Pachuca, Hidalgo, September 21 to October 9th

    If you liked country and state fairs in the United States, then this will definitely be for you. Besides the usual midway of carnival games and rides, there are also areas for agricultural expositions. The fair also has an extensive area dedicated to the arts and crafts of Mexico, and well as arenas for commercial and industrial demonstrations. Of course, there is always the usual fun of fireworks, restaurants, and even a circus!

    Pachuca is surrounded by several ecosystems that create a variety of landscapes. It is also the starting point for the mountain corridor that includes Mineral del Chico, Real del Monte and Huasca de Ocampo, with its spectacular mountain scenery, streams and traditional haciendas. Other places worth visiting are the Laguna de Atezca and Peñas Cargadas. The villages near Ajacuba and Huichapan offer a choice of entertainment and activities.

    Information:
    Web: www.pachuca.com
    Carretera México Pachuca Km. 84.5
    Telephones. +52 (771) 711 4686, (771) 711 2321, (771) 711 2713
    Fax. +52 (771) 711 4694

    November:
    Festival of the Month:
    Fifth Annual Yucatan Bird Festival
    Merida, Yucatan, November 13-21
    Yucatan Bird FestivalThe call is out for the Fifth Annual Yucatan Bird Festival, known as the Toh, (Mayan for Turquoise-browed Motmot). Whether you are attracted by the more than 400 colorful bird species, or by the stone sculptures of bird figures left behind by the ancient Maya, there is something for everyone. Dr. Eduardo Santana, Paul Wood and Merle Greene Robertson lead the roster of special guests for a week full of fascinating field trips, unique exhibits, conferences, workshops and social get-togethers.

    Whether you are a beginner or advanced birdwatcher, bird photographer or student of the Maya culture, this festival will provide you with new experiences and knowledge. The local guides from the reserve communities will teach you Maya bird names in exchange for your friendship during the two-day xoc ch’ich’ (bird count in Maya). Your participation directly benefits our bird conservation efforts in the region.

    For more info contact: Ecoturismo Yucatán
    Tel.: (52-999) 920-2772
    Fax: (52-999) 925-9047
    E-mail: toh@ecoyuc.com
    Web: www.yucatanbirds.org.mx

    Nov 1 All Saints Day

    One of the most unique and celebrated holidays in Mexico, Día de los Muertos isNovember 2. Mexicans reflect on death and celebrate their deceased relatives on this day. Unlike most cultures, Mexicans are said to get up close and personal with death, mocking it, laughing about it, embracing it. While the celebrations vary, the common thread includes a traditional altar constructed at people’s homes which pays tribute to deceased family members.

    If you go by the Plaza Cívica, you will see the various shops selling a variety of goods specifically for this day, from skeleton-shaped candy and toys to candles and the special bread, Pan de Muertos. There’s also a run on marigolds and tissue paper. All of these are typically used in the home altar and carry special meaning, along with favorites of the deceased, such as a specific food or a bottle of tequila. And the flowers have an additional use—many visit the cemetary and leave a trail of marigolds back to their respective houses, so that the dead will know how to make their way back home. The altars are an offering, a means by which the spirits of the dead pay a holiday visit home are provided with adequate and enticing sustenance for their journey.

    If this is your first Day of the Dead in San Miguel, a visit to the local cemetary on the Salida a Celaya will provide insight to the holiday. It’s an awesome display as graves are elaborately decorated and family members congregate around them, chatting, keeping the flowers watered, and spending the afternoon with their loved ones. You’ll also want to take a walk around town on Monday night, as various homes and businesses have their altars on display, such as Instituto Allende, Radio San Miguel, and the Museo Allende.

    vallarta golf cup

    Vallarta Golf Cup
    Puerto Vallarta, México, November 11-12
    With great fanfare, golf fans all around México are headed to Puerto Vallarta for the Vallarta Golf Cup on November 11-12, 2006, on the Tom Weiskopf and Mayan Palace courses. Once again the prizes are in cash and the “Swing Vallarta” trophy is up for grabs. Special social events will be held as the Vallartan public, authorities and golfers will participate in the tournement. The locals enthusiastically
    pamper the amateur golfers from Mexico, USA and Canada. They hope that this event will become an annual event.

    For more info contact the tournament:
    Email: gerencia@velasvallarta.com
    Web: www.vallartagolf.com

    Mayan Palace Golf Course:
    www.mayanpalace.com

    This event is during, Fiesta del Mar which is a great time in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Festivals held during this month-long celebration in the famous resort destination include art, sports competitions, food festivals, and a spectacular fireworks display closing the ceremonies on the 30th.

    Click here to see our guide to Puerto Vallarta

    Feria Nacional de la Plata 2006
    Taxco, Guerrero, November 18-25
    Located 185 km southwest of Mexico City, in the northern Guerrero State, the streets of Taxco (Tahs-co) are lined with silver–silver jewelry. As early as 1937, an American born, Taxco inhabitant, silver designer William Spratling began the fair’s celebration as an appreciation party to honor the artisans that produced his designs. Since then the fair has escalated to the national level, hosting a competition of Mexico’s best silversmiths and some of the world’s finest artisans. Over 16,000 silver shops line the tiny main plaza, Plaza Borda, and the streets leading to it, all bustling with a hub of activity day and night.

    Each year at the end of November, Taxco showcases the work of fine silversmiths in its Silver Fair (Feria Nacional de la Plata). Continuing through the first week in December, this festival showcases the amazing depth and breadth of the silver work in Taxco. Visitors will delight in this display, which includes a competition in which the top craftsmen, artists and silversmiths show their work and compete among each other.

    The winner receives a 24-karat gold trophy with an Aztec eagle design and a monetary award of $40,000 pesos. The fair also crowns a local senorita with the title of “Queen of the Silver Fair.” And it’s a true fiesta as the Silver Fair also features exhibits, concerts, dances and fireworks

    Click here for our guide to Taxco
    Visit the State Website

    November 20 is Día de la Revolución, when Mexico commemorates the Mexican Revolution. This national holiday celebrates the fall of Porfirio Díaz from power in 1910 and Mexico’s subsequent rise to a democratic government. The holiday is celebrated in San Miguel with a large parade throughout the city—schools and most businesses are closed. Visitors to the country at this time won’t want to miss this event, true to Mexican patriotism and good, old-fashioned fiesta.

    The short story of Díaz’s fall from power is that Francisco I. Madero, in light of his growing following in the north, decided to run for President against Díaz in 1910. Díaz, although a previous proponent of one-term elections, realized his stronghold was at risk, and had Madero arrested, rigging the election to maintain power. When Madero was released from prison, he began a movement which called for a revolt against Díaz on the 20th of November, 1910. Although the revolt failed, Díaz resigned to Madero in May 1911. However, November 20 remains the day on which Mexico celebrates the revolution.

    Nov 25 Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.

    Nov 25-27 International Jazz Festival, San Miguel de Allende

    The Guadalajara International Book Fair, Guadalajara, Jalisco
    November 25 to December 3, 9am-9pm Daily, 20 pesos
    The Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) is the largest Spanish-language book event in the world. Each year its corridors are the venue where book professionals negotiate the selling and buying of books, foreign rights and translation rights; at the same time, they have the opportunity to explore technological advances related to books. FIL also gives the general public and tourists in Guadalajara the opportunity to have nine days in which to peruse an unprecedented number of titles of books in an array of different styles.

    December:
    Festival of the Month:

    Fiesta de los Rabanos (Festival of the Radishes)
    Oaxaca, Oaxaca, December 23

    If you want to see religious themes, historical events or mythical tales carved into radishes, then you must go to Oaxaca on December 23. This unassuming vegetable is turned into saints, animals, dancers, conquistadors, and the revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata, even the Virgin Mary. Once Oaxaca’s master radish-artists have finished with these vegetables, any resemblance to something that might appear on your dinner table has vanished.

    How this whole festival got started is a bit of a mystery, but the local merchants use to sell salt-dried fish after the midnight mass. To make their stalls stand out they started marking their territory with these ingenious creations, and when the mayor of Oaxaca started an exhibition of these art pieces in 1897, all the rest is history. But after this crazy night, Oaxaca moves onto even more fiestas the next day, December 24.

    Crowds fill the town center for the calenda, a procession of floats built by the many churches in town. Consisting of a small bands, candle-bearers of all ages and usually on a truck whose flatbed typically has been transformed into a manger scene, complete with Mary, Joseph and several little girl angels in white dresses and gold halos and little boy shepherds in striped cloaks. The procession moves throw the city throwing candy to the awaiting children. Fireworks, of course, then follow, wrapping up the celebration.

    Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, December 12
    Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is the celebration of Mexico’s patron saint, and therefore a very important fiesta. As the story goes, Juan Diego was on his way to church when he heard heavenly music at Tepeyac Hill outside of then Mexico City. When he climbed the hill to find out where the music was coming from, he saw a woman surround by a blinding light. She then instructed him to go and request that a church be built there in her honor by Bishop Zumárraga.

    The Bishop did believe Juan Diego and demanded he bring back proof of his vision. Several days later when Juan Diego was rushing to find a priest for his dying uncle, the vision of the Virgin appeared again. She had him wrap roses in his tilma that had miraculously grown at her feet, despite it being winter. He then took these flowers to the Bishop, and as they poured out the image of the Virgin surrounded by the exact constellation in the sky appeared on the fabric. This same tilma is still intact, and is the relic in the Basílica de Guadalupe.

    The Virgin of Guadalupe captured the hearts and minds of the indigenous people, whom Spanish missionaries were converting to Catholicism, though she is also identified with the Aztec earth goddess and mother of humankind. Special masses are held all day long, and there are parades, food, and other public events.

    Las Posadas December 16 – 24
    The next Christmas celebrations are Las Posadas, which take place on each of the nine nights preceding Christmas. This is when many Mexicans reenact the Holy Family’s search for an inn with candlelit processions through the streets. In many neighborhoods it’s customary for homes to take turns refusing lodging to wandering families, with one home acting as the final inn of the Holy Family’s journey. Some businesses and community organizations also host celebrations. The Posadas take the place of the northern tradition of a Christmas Party.

    Feria de la Posada y Piñata
    Alcoman, State of Mexico
    December 16-24

    Come to one of the best children’s events in all of Mexico, the annual celebration of the children’s party staple, the Piñata. Among the piñatas on display are those made from clay, traditional models with seven points that symbolize the seven deadly sins, and those made from cardboard with popular children’s designs. Alcoman is just outside of Mexico City making for a perfect day trip. This is a great festival to celebrate with families where you can learn to make your own piñata in workshops offered throughout the festival.

    See our guide to Mexico City, which is the best place to visit Alcoman from.

    Christmas / La Navidad, December 25
    Christmas is typically celebrated extensively, with many Mexicans taking the last two weeks of December off from work, businesses closing and hotels filling up quickly. In Querétaro there is a big celebration on the night of the 23rd, with a huge parade. Throughout Mexico there are amazing fiestas as well, including “Night of the Radishes” in Oaxaca, with elaborate displays of carved radishes and figures made from dried flowers. The fiesta of Christmas continues into New Year’s Eve, when Mexico joins the rest of the world with parties, fireworks and loud celebration.

    Liberation of the Turtles
    Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
    December 31, earlier if you want to help collect the eggs

    If you ever wanted to get hands on in your quest to help the environment, then this is an event for you. In Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, most hotels in the region participate in a special marine animal protection program which includes collecting and protecting turtle eggs until they hatch and are ready for release. The releasing event symbolizes the beginning of a new year full of hope for these marvelous animals. Guests can participate in a lot of incredible activities such as: the birth of sea turtles, liberation the turtles into the sea, feedomg the sea-turtles and iguanas and learn more about them. A highly suggested hotel which participates in this event is Qualton Club Ixtapa.

    Visit the hotel’s website: http://qualton.com/ixtapa/
    See our guide to Zihuatanejo.

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    2 Responses to “Festivals and Special Dates”

    Grow Peppers Says:

    This is the first time I have ever heard that there is a Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves. How can I go there? How much would be the expenses in travelling from Kentucky to Michoacan alone?

    Lucas Dohm Says:

    So far the closest I can find is in Milan.

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