January 17

Feast of San Antonio Abad,
Mexico City. This feast is celebrated through the Blessing of the Animals at the Santiago Tlatelolco Church on the Plaza of Three Cultures, at San Juan Bautista Church in Coyoacán, and at the Church of San Fernando, 2 blocks north of the Juárez-Reforma intersection.

February ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Februrary 2
Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas),
nationwide. Music, dances, processions, food, and other festivities lead up to a blessing of seed and candles in a ceremony that mixes pre-Hispanic and European traditions marking the end of winter. Those who attended the Three Kings celebration reunite to share atole and tamales at a party hosted by the recipient of the doll found in the Rosca. February 2.

February 5
Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day).
This national holiday is in honor of the current Mexican constitution, signed in 1917 as a result of the revolutionary war of 1910. It's celebrated through small parades.

Carnaval takes place the 3 days preceding Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The cities of Ajijic (Chapala), Tepoztlán, Huejotzingo, Chamula, Veracruz, Cozumel, and Mazatlán celebrate with special gusto. In some places, such as Veracruz, Mazatlán, and Cozumel, the celebration resembles New Orleans's Mardi Gras, with a festive atmosphere and parades. In Chamula, the event harks back to pre-Hispanic times, with ritualistic running on flaming branches. On Shrove Tuesday in Tepoztlán and Huejotzingo, brilliantly clad masked dancers fill the streets. Transportation and hotels are packed, so it's best to make reservations 6 months in advance and arrive a couple of days ahead of the beginning of celebrations.

Ash Wednesday.
The start of Lent and time of abstinence, this is a day of reverence nationwide; some towns honor it with folk dancing and fairs.

February 14
Tour city of Guadalajara Celebrates its foundation with entertainment activities and concerts starting on the firsts days of the month.

March ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
March 3
Annual Witches Conference, Lake Catemaco, Veracruz. Shamans, white witches, black witches, and practitioners of macumba, Caribbean, Afro, and Antillean ritualistic practices gather on the shores of the lake. Taking place the first Friday night of March every year, the annual gathering is a spectacle of witches, healers, magicians, and wizards.

March 21
Benito Juárez's Birthday.
This national holiday is observed through small hometown celebrations countrywide, especially in Juárez's birthplace, Guelatao, Oaxaca.

March 21
Spring Equinox,
Chichén Itzá. On the first day of spring, the Temple of Kukulkán -- Chichén Itzá's main pyramid -- aligns with the sun, and the shadow of the plumed serpent moves slowly from the top of the building down. When the shadow reaches the bottom, the body joins the carved stone snake's head at the base of the pyramid. According to ancient legend, at the moment that the serpent is whole, the earth is fertilized. Visitors come from around the world to marvel at this sight, so advance arrangements are advisable. March 21. (The shadow appears Mar 19-23.) Elsewhere, equinox festivals and celebrations welcome spring, in the custom of the ancient Mexicans, with dances and prayers to the elements and the four cardinal points. In Gachimontones pyramids, Teuchitlan Jalisco, it's customary to wear white with a red ribbon.

April ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Semana Santa (Holy Week).
Mexico celebrates the last week in the life of Christ, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, with somber religious processions almost nightly, spoofing of Judas, and reenactments of biblical events, plus food and craft fairs. Among the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyon, celebrations have pre-Hispanic overtones. Pátzcuaro, Taxco, and Malinalco hold special celebrations. Businesses close during this traditional week of Mexican national vacations.
If you plan on traveling to or around Mexico during Holy Week, make your reservations early. Seats on flights into and out of the country will be reserved months in advance. Buses to these towns and to almost anywhere else in Mexico will be full, so try arriving on the Wednesday or Thursday before Good Friday. Easter Sunday is quiet, and the week following is a traditional vacation period. Early April.

April 12 to May 4
San Marcos National Fair,
Aguascalientes. Mexico's largest fair, first held in 1604, lasts 22 days. About a million visitors come for bullfights and rodeos as well as ranchera music and mariachis. There are craft and industrial exhibits, markets, fireworks, and folk dancing.

April 15 to 28

Festival del Centro Historico (Annual Mexico City Festival), Mexico City. Regarded as one of Latin America's most vibrant celebrations of art and culture, this 2-week festival features diverse events including opera, concerts, theater, art exhibits, dance productions, and gourmet fare. Proceeds go toward the rescue and restoration of the art and architecture of Mexico City's historic downtown area. www.fchmexico.com.

May --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 5
Labor Day. National holiday. Workers' parades countrywide; everything closes. May 1.
Cinco de Mayo, Puebla and nationwide. This national holiday celebrates the defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla.

May 15

Feast of San Isidro. A blessing of seeds and work animals honors the patron saint of farmers.

June -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

June 1
Día de la Marina (Navy Day).
All coastal towns celebrate the holiday, with naval parades and fireworks.

Corpus Christi.
This day, celebrated nationwide, honors the Body of Christ (the Eucharist) with processions, Masses, and food. Festivities include performances of voladores (flying pole dancers) beside the church and at the ruins of El Tajín, Veracruz. In Mexico City, children dressed as Indians and carrying decorated baskets of fruit for the priest's blessing gather with their parents before the National Cathedral. Mulitas (mules), handmade from dried cornhusks and painted, are traditionally sold outside all churches on that day to represent a prayer for fertility.

June 14 to July 14
National Ceramics Fair and Fiesta, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. This pottery center on the outskirts of Guadalajara offers craft demonstrations and competitions as well as mariachis, dancers, and colorful parades.

Día de San Pedro (St. Peter and St. Paul Day). This national feast day is celebrated wherever St. Peter is the patron saint; it also honors anyone named Pedro or Peter. It's especially festive at San Pedro Tlaquepaque, near Guadalajara, with numerous mariachi bands, folk dancers, and parades with floats. .

July --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

June 29

Guelaguetza Dance Festival, Oaxaca. This is one of Mexico's most popular events. Villagers from the seven regions around Oaxaca gather in the city's amphitheater. They dress in traditional costumes, and many wear colorful "dancing" masks. The celebration dates from pre-Hispanic times. Make advance reservations -- this festival attracts visitors from around the world. Contact us for details and schedule.

August -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mid- to late August
Fiestas de la Vendimia (Wine Harvest Festival), Ensenada, Baja California. A food and wine festival celebrating the annual harvest, with blessings, seminars, parties, and wine tastings. Contact us for more details and schedule.

August 1 to 15
International Chamber Music Festival,
San Miguel de Allende. Held since 1982 in this beautiful town, the festival features international award-winning classical music ensembles.

August 13
Fall of Tenochtitlán,
Mexico City. The last battle of the Spanish Conquest took place at Tlatelolco, ruins that are now part of the Plaza of Three Cultures. Wreath-laying ceremonies there and at the Cuauhtémoc monument on Reforma commemorate the surrender of the last Aztec king, Cuauhtémoc, to Cortez, and the loss of thousands of lives.

August 15 to 17
Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This day is celebrated throughout the country with special Masses, and in some places with processions. In Huamantla, flower petals and colored sawdust carpet the streets. At midnight on August 15, a statue of the Virgin is carried through the streets; on August 16 is the running of the bulls. On August 15 in Santa Clara del Cobre, near Pátzcuaro, Our Lady of Santa Clara de Asis and the Virgen de la Sagrado Patrona are honored with a parade of floats, dancers on the main square, and an exposition of regional crafts. Buses to Huamantla from Puebla and Mexico City will be full, and there are few hotels in Huamantla. Plan to stay in Puebla and commute to the festivities.

September ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
September 2 to 16
Mariachi Festival, Guadalajara, Jalisco. These public concerts of mariachi music include visiting mariachi groups from around the world (even Japan!). Workshops and lectures focus on the history, culture, and music of the mariachi in Mexico. Contact us to confirm dates and schedule of performances.

September 7 to 8
Reto al Tepozteco (Tepozteco Challenge), Tepoztlan, Morelos. Performance depicting King Tepoztecatl's conversion to the Catholic religion. Procession leads toward the Tepozteco Pyramid, where people offer food and beverages. This event includes hypnotic chinelo dances, fireworks, and a food festival.

September 15 and 16
Independence Day. This national holiday celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain with parades, picnics, and family reunions. At 11pm on September 15, the president gives the famous independence grito (cry) from the National Palace in Mexico City. At least half a million people crowd into the zócalo (main plaza), and the rest of the country watches on TV or participates in local celebrations. Tall buildings downtown are draped in the national colors (red, green, and white), and the zócalo is ablaze with lights. Many people drive downtown at night to see the fireworks. Querétaro, Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende, where Independence conspirators lived and met, also celebrate elaborately; the schedule of events is exactly the same in every village, town, and city across Mexico. Guadalajara played a key role at the begining of the strugle so celebrations and parades are spectacular in this safer city. Contact us for scheduled events.

September 21 and 22
Fall Equinox, Chichén Itzá. The same shadow play that occurs during the spring equinox repeats.

September 21 and 22
Sanmiguelada (Running of the Bulls at San Miguel),
San Miguel de Allende. Also known as the Pamplonada because it is Mexico's imitation of Spain's running of the bulls, the Sanmiguelada is an annual festival usually taking place the third Saturday of September in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel. The event involves dances, concerts, fireworks and bulls running through town. Daring participants meet at high noon. www.sanmiguelguide.com/tour-pamplonada.htm.

October ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All month
Fiestas de Octubre (October Festivals), Guadalajara. This "most Mexican of cities" celebrates for a month with its trademark mariachi music. It's a bountiful display of popular culture and fine arts, and a spectacular spread of traditional food, Mexican beer, and wine.

Mid- to late October
Festival Cervantino, Guanajuato. This festival began in the 1970s as a cultural event bringing performing artists from all over the world to this picturesque village northeast of Mexico City. Now the artists travel all over the republic after appearing in Guanajuato. Check local calendars or Contact us for more details. www.festivalcervantino.gob.mx.

October 2 to 9
Oaxaca's Ninth Annual Food of the Gods Festival,
Oaxaca, Oaxaca. A culinary exploration of the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca. Known globally for its culinary creativity, Oaxaca is the birthplace of chocolate. More information on this weeklong event is available at www.food-of-the-gods-festival.com.

October 12
Día de la Raza ("Ethnicity Day," or Columbus Day). This day commemorates the fusion of the Spanish and Mexican peoples. In the city of Guadalajara the biggest religious festivity takes place at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Our lady of Zapopan is taken on a 4.5 miles procesion to her home, the Zapopan Basilica, usually 3 to 4 million participate on this local holyday.

November -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
November 1 and 2
Day of the Dead. This national holiday (Nov 1) actually lasts for 2 days: All Saints' Day -- honoring saints and deceased children -- and All Souls' Day, honoring deceased adults. Relatives gather at cemeteries countrywide, carrying candles and food, and often spend the night beside graves of loved ones. Weeks before, bakers begin producing bread in the shape of mummies or round loaves decorated with bread "bones." Sugar skulls emblazoned with glittery names are sold everywhere. Many days ahead, homes and churches erect altars laden with bread, fruit, flowers, candles, favorite foods, and photographs of saints and of the deceased. On both nights, costumed children walk through the streets, often carrying mock coffins and pumpkin lanterns, into which they expect money will be dropped.
The most famous celebration -- which has become almost too well known -- is on Janitzio, an island on Lake Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, west of Mexico City. Mixquic, a mountain village south of Mexico City, hosts an elaborate street fair, and around 11pm on both nights solemn processions lead to the cemetery in the center of town. Cemeteries around Oaxaca are well known for their solemn vigils, and some for their Carnaval-like atmosphere. Contact us to make your reservation.

All month
Fiestas de Noviembre (November Festivals), Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. The events during this month include the annual Pipeline of Mexico, Zicatela Beach's International Surfing Tournament, the International Sailfish Tournament, and the Coastal Dance Festival. Check local calendars or Contact us for details.

Mid-November, extending 10 days
Annual Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Featuring a wide range of North American independent and Latin American productions, this elaborate showcase of feature-length films and documentaries includes gala events, art expos, and concerts, with celebrity attendees. www.puertovallartafilm.com. Check local calendars or call tel. 800/44-MEXICO or contact us for details.

in mid-November
Gourmet Festival. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. In this culinary capital of Mexico, chefs from around the world join with local restaurateurs to create special menus, as well as host wine tastings, tequila tastings, cooking classes, a gourmet food expo, and other special events. For a detailed schedule and more information visit www.festivalgourmet.com. Dates vary, but the festival generally takes place for 10 days.

November 20
Revolution Day. This national holiday commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 with parades, speeches, rodeos, and patriotic events.

Fifth Annual Yucatán Bird Festival, Mérida, Yucatán. Bird-watching sessions, workshops, and exhibits are the highlights of this festival designed to illustrate the special role birds play in our environment and in the Yucatán territory. www.yucatanbirds.org.mx. Contact us for more details.

Late November to early December
National Silver Fair, Taxco. A competition of Mexico's best silversmiths and some of the world's finest artisans. There are exhibits, concerts, dances, and fireworks. Check local calendars or call tel. Contact us for more details.

December -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Early December
Fifth Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, León, Guanajuato. Largest festival in Latin America with more than 60 balloons and pilots from all over the globe participating. www.festivaldelglobo.com.mx. Contact us for more details.

December 12
Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Religious processions, street fairs, dancing, fireworks, and Masses honor the patroness of Mexico. It is one of the country's most moving and beautiful displays of traditional culture. The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to a young man, Juan Diego, in December 1531 on a hill near Mexico City. It's customary for children to dress up as Juan Diego, wearing mustaches and red bandanas. One of the most famous and elaborate celebrations takes place at the Basílica of Guadalupe, north of Mexico City, where the Virgin appeared. But every village celebrates this day, often with processions of children carrying banners, and with charreadas (rodeos), bicycle races, dancing, and fireworks. In Puerto Vallarta, Morelia and other towns in Jalisco, the celebration begins on December 1 and extends through December 12, with traditional processions to the church for a brief Mass and blessing. In the final days, the processions and festivities take place around the clock. There's a major fireworks exhibition on the feast day at 11pm.

December 12 to 21
Festival of San Cristobal de las Casas, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. This 10-day festival in Chiapas includes a procession by the Tzotzil and Tzetzal Indians, marimba music, and a parade of horses.

December 12 to 21

Christmas Posadas.
On each of the 9 nights before Christmas, it's customary to reenact the Holy Family's search for an inn. Door-to-door candlelit processions pass through cities and villages nationwide, especially Querétaro and Taxco. Hosted by businesses and community organizations, these take the place of the northern tradition of a Christmas party. December 15 to 24

December 23

Fiesta de los Rábanos (Festival of the Radishes), Oaxaca, Oaxaca. Local artisans and sculptors set up stalls around the main square to display their elaborate pieces of art -- made entirely from radishes! The local crop is used for creating nativity scenes and famous Mexican figures. Balloons and birds crafted from local flowers add even more color.

December 24 and 25
Christmas. Mexicans often extend this national holiday and leave their jobs up to 2 weeks before Christmas, returning after New Year's. Many businesses close, and resorts and hotels fill. Significant celebrations take place on December 23 . Querétaro has a huge parade. On the evening of December 24 in Oaxaca, processions culminate on the central plaza. On the same night, Santiago Tuxtla in Veracruz celebrates by dancing the huapango and with jarocho bands in the beautiful town square.

December 31
New Year's Eve. Like the rest of the world, Mexico celebrates New Year's Eve with parties, fireworks, and plenty of noise. Special festivities take place at Santa Clara del Cobre, near Pátzcuaro, with a candlelit procession of Christ, and at Tlacolula, near Oaxaca, with commemorative mock battles.

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Yearly Events Guadalajara Mexico

Our Favorite Mexico Events -- All of the activities mentioned in the "Mexico Calendar of Events," below, are worth checking out. But several unforgettable festivals and celebrations deserve special mention. They are: Carnaval, Holy Week, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Festival Cervantino, and the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Consult the calendar for more information.
During national holidays, Mexican banks and governmental offices -- including immigration -- are closed.

January ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

January 1st
Año Nuevo (New Year's Day). This national holiday is perhaps the quietest day in all of Mexico. Most people stay home or attend church. All businesses are closed. In traditional indigenous communities, new tribal leaders are inaugurated with colorful ceremonies rooted in the pre-Hispanic past.

January 6
Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day, Wise Man´s Day), nationwide. This day commemorates the Three Kings' bringing of gifts to the Christ Child. On this day, children receive gifts, much like the traditional Christmas gift-giving in the United States. Friends and families gather to share the Rosca de Reyes, a special cake. Inside the cake is a small doll representing the Christ Child; whoever receives the doll must host a tamales-and-atole (a warm drink made of corn dough) party on February 2.


Regional Fair,
León, Guanajuato. One of Mexico's largest fairs celebrates the founding of this shoemaking and leather-craft city. There are parades, theater, craft exhibits, music, and dance. www.ferialeon.com.mx
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