Mexican festivals, national holidays and celebrations are truly spectacular events, whether it’s the country’s Easter processions or the vibrant annual Carnival season. Planning a vacation around one of the many festivals in Mexico can add an extra cultural element to your visit as you’ll not only get to meet more people, but also catch a glimpse of authentic local life.
Religious festivals in Mexico
As a predominantly Catholic country, many of Mexico’s public holidays are rooted in religion.
- Easter is celebrated with Semana Santa, a week-long event in March or April that brings about feast days, passion plays and processions across the country. Just outside Mexico City, you’ll see a huge reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion in Iztapalapa, while hooded figures carrying religious icons will parade silently through Oaxaca on Good Friday.
- Christmas is also an important Mexican holiday, with nativity plays and midnight masses held in most communities.
- The feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe – Mexico’s religious patron – takes place on December 12, with millions travelling to Mexico City’s grand Basílica de Guadalupe.
Mexican Day of the Dead
How about an explosion of color and revelry? Mexico’s legendary Day of the Dead festival is just one of many ways the country’s indigenous and Spanish-influenced Christian traditions have merged over time. Known for colorful skull motifs, flowers and joyful ceremonies, this two-day celebration begins on All Saints Day on November 1, and allows people to honor lost loved ones through feasting, partying and offerings.
- Mexico City currently hosts the largest Day of the Dead parade attended by thousands with bright costumes and dramatic painted faces.
- In Oaxaca, locals decorate cemeteries with candles and marigolds.
- San Miguel de Allende’s La Calaca (skeleton) festival offers a more traditional, but no less colorful take with a costumed procession through the town.
Every February or March before Lent begins, communities across Mexico celebrate Carnival through symbolic rituals, musical processions and vibrant street parades. You will find that the wildest parties take place in Veracruz, Mazatlán and Merida, with plenty of drinking, dancing and fun.
Cinco de Mayo
Hosted in Puebla, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the fighting that took place in the city between Mexican forces and the French on May 5, 1862. Streets close down for a colorful parade and unmissable historical re-enactments of the victorious battle.
Cultural, historical and culinary festivals in Mexico
Other popular festivals in Mexico include the capital’s Festival de México that’s made up of dozens of theater, music and dance performances.
- Literature and arts fans may prefer Guanajuato’s Cervantino Festival, while Mexican Independence Day on September 15 sees firework displays and town halls across Mexico ringing out the iconic call to rebellion (the Grito de Dolores).
- More of a foodie? Take a trip to Puerto Vallarta in November for the 10-day Festival Gourmet International that hosts chefs from across the globe.
As with any country, you can expect local holiday periods and bank holidays to be the busiest times to visit Mexico. On some such official holidays such as Independence Day on September 16, shops, offices and some sights can be closed in Mexico. Your travel consultant will be happy to advise you on national holidays and plan your trip so that you can make the most of your time.
If you’d rather experience all this wonderful country has to offer without the crowds, we’re happy to plan your vacation when no big festivals in Mexico are taking place.
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