Celebrations and fiestas in mexico: festival and holiday calendar
The ‘Calender’ page is dedicated to a small selection of events arranged as a yearly calendar. The list of events will grow throughout the year of 2017. See the main article on ‘celebrations and fiestas’.
January is still considered a high season in Mexico, as people from colder climates seek warmer places, despite the fact that January is one of the coldest months of the year in Mexico. In fact, it can sometimes get extremely chilly in the north and the centre from November to February. Although, officially, the end of Christmas season in Mexico on Día de los Reyes (‘Three Kings’ Day’) (6 Jan) – starting with celebrations related the patroness of Mexico on Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (‘Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe’) (12 Dec) – the season is not really over until Día de la Candelaria (‘Candlemas Day’) (2 Feb).
• 1 Jan: Año Nuevo (‘New Year’s Day’) – National holiday. Still part of the Christmas season, Año Nuevo is a day of rest after the longest night of the year – the Nochevieja (‘New Year’s Eve’, literally ‘Old Night’). For more, see the main article.
• 5–24 Jan (varies): Mérida Fest (‘Merida International Arts Festival’) – Mérida, State of Yucatán. An annual arts festival (cultural events, concerts and art exhibits) in Mérida. Link 2017 Programme.
• 6 Jan: Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, or short, Día de los Reyes (‘Three Kings’ Day’ / ‘Three Magi’s Day’ / ‘Three Wise Men’s Day’ / ‘Epiphany’) – Observance/nationwide. A feast day commemorating the visit of Jesus Christ by the Three Kings (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) on the 12-day after his birth, bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But the day is also a joy for all Mexican children as they traditionally receive gifts rather than at Christmas. For more, see the main article.
• 6–15 Jan (varies): BPM Fest (‘BPM Festival’) – Playa del Carmen, State of Yucatán. An annual 10-night-and-day music festival in Playa del Carmen. With the turquoise-blue waters and powdery, white sand beaches under palm trees of the Caribbean as its backdrop, the festival, with more than 375 artists, is a knock out event for electronic dance music lovers. Since its founding in 2008, the festival has grown and established its reputation as a music destination rival to the summer scene of the island of Ibiza. Link 2017 Programme.
• 8–23 Jan (varies): Fiesta Grande / Fiesta de los Parachicos / Fiesta de Enero (‘Great Feast’ / ‘Feast of the Parachicos‘ / ‘January Festival’) – Chiapa de Corzo, State of Chiapas. An annual festive and ceremonial event in the city of Chiapa de Corzo, 15 km from Tuxla Gutiérrez. It is a religious, traditional and popular festival of a series of events – a conjunction of Roman Catholic religious ceremonies and processions; of traditional music and dance in the streets by the residents wearing masks and colourful outfits; of local cuisine; and of handcrafts, particularly masks, embroidery and lacquerware. Link 2017 programme. For more, see the main article.
• 13 Jan–7 Feb (varies): Feria de León (‘León Fair’) – León, State of Guanajuato. An annual fair in León, with concerts and shows (animals, art & crafts, circus, pyro musical, rodeo and charro), food and parades and mechanical rides. The fair celebrated its 140 birthday in 2016. Link 2017 Programme.
• 14–23 Jan (varies, but not happening in 2017): Music Festival de Todos Santos (‘Todos Santos Music Festival’) – Todos Santos, State of Baja California Sur. An annual festival of music founded in 2012 by Peter Buck of R.E.M in Todos Santos. Link 2016 Programme.
• 17 Jan: Día de San Antonio de Abad (‘Feast of Saint Anthony the Great or the Abbot’) – Nationwide. A feast day commemorating the death of an Egyptian Christian, Saint Anthony the Abbot (c. 251–356 AD), the founder of the Christian monasticism. He is considered a patron saint of farmers and a protector of the animal kingdom as well as those inflicted with skin diseases. For more, see the main article.
• 18 Jan: Día de Santa Prisca (‘Feast of Saint Prisca’) – Taxco, State of Guerrero. A feast day in the city of Taxco commemorating the patron saint of the cathedral, Saint Prisca. For more, see the main article.
• 20–28 Jan (varies): FAOT: Festival Alfonso Ortis Tirado (‘Festival Alfonso Ortis Tirado’) – Álamos, State of Sonora. An annual music festival held in Álamos since 1985 in honour of their famous local resident, Alfonso Ortiz Tirado (1893–1960) – a doctor and opera singer. As a medical doctor, he was the personal physician of the famous female painter, Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). As a musician, he studied under José Pierson (1861–1957) – the teacher and promoter of Mexican musical talents, both in classical and popular traditions – and soon after succeeded as a singer on international level, earning the label of ‘Tenor of the Americas’. The festival’s program has an emphasis on operatic singing and chamber music, but popular music and other art forms are also featured. The festival has grown over the years and is now one of northern Mexico’s most important cultural events, drawing over 100,000 people from many different countries. Link 2017 Programme.
• 28–31 Jan (varies): Punta Mita Gourment & Golf Classic – Punta Mita, State of Nayarit. A 4-day event that celebrates the marriage of sophisticated worlds of culinary excellence and championship golf. Apart from many gourmet meals, there are cooking courses taught by world-renowned chefs a series of wine and tequila tastings, festive gatherings at the luxurious St. Regis Punta Mita Resort and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, sailing adventures during sunset and a 2-day golf tournament – ‘The Punta Mita Cup’ – at Jack Nicklaus Signatures courses. Link 2016 Programme.
• 28 Jan (varies): Año Nuevo chino (‘Chinese New Year) – Barrio Chino (‘Chinatown’), Mexico City. Chinese New Year celebrations are hosted by the Comunidad China de México in the Chinatown, located on Dolores Street in the historical centre near Bellas Artes metro. A parade of lion dances and a display of fireworks as well as other traditional events and food stalls. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster that ends on 14 Feb 2018.
• 29 Jan–5 Feb (varies): FIAM: Festival Internacional de Aves Migratorias de San Blas (‘International Migratory Bird Festival’) – San Blas, Riviera Nayarit, State of Nayarit. An annual festival in San Blas since 2004 that coincides with the Día de San Blas (‘Feast Day of Saint Blas’) (3 Feb), the city’s patron saint. Link 2017 Programme. For more, see the main article.
February is one of the driest months of the year in Mexico, and temperatures are warming up. It is the peak season for monarch butterfly – so it is an ideal time of year to visit Mexico’s monarch butterfly reserves in the Transvolcanic Belt (between Michoacán and State of Mexico) – UNESCO’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Also, the month is the prime season for whale watching in Baja California Sur’s three main wintering breeding grounds: Bahía Magdalena (‘Magdalena Bay’), Ojo de Liebre and San Ignacio lagoons (the latter two part UNESCO’s Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve – the largest wildlife refuge in Latin America). Above all, it is also the month of carnival celebrations at various locations in Mexico.
• 1–5 Feb (varies): Festival Sayulita (‘Festival Sayulita’) – Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit, State of Nayarit. An annual festival since 2014 in the coastal bohemian town of Sayulita, for lovers of Mexico’s film, music, food, tequila and surfing. Link 2017 Programme.
• 2 Feb: Día de la Candelaria (‘Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple’ / ‘Feast of the Purification of the Virgin’ / ‘Candlemas Day’) – Observance/nationwide. A feast day commemorating the presentation of Child Jesus at the temple 40 days after his birth (the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary), marking the end of Christmas season in Mexico – i.e. the end of a 40-day Christmastide that corresponds to the 40 days of Lent. Celebrations with candlelit processions and the blessing of Christ Jesus figurines from nativity scenes taken to churches take place. For more, see the main article.
• 2–19 Feb (varies): Feria de la Alegría y el Olivo (‘Alegría and Olive Fair’) – Santiago Tulyehualco, Xochimilco, Mexico City. A secular festival held annually since 1970s in the village of Santiago Tulyehualco (Plaza Quirino Mendoza y Cortés), part of Xochimilco, a southern borough of Mexico City. The fair celebrates products made out of olives and of amaranth. It also hosts arts and cultural events. Link 2017 Programme. For more, see the main article.
• 3–5 Feb (varies): Festival de la Ballena Gris (‘Grey Whale Festival’) – Puerto Adolfo López Mateos, State of Baja California Sur. An annual festival at Puerto Adolfo López Mateos – also other places like Puerto San Carlos (19–21 Feb) – located in Bahía Magdalena (‘Magdalena Bay’) (Link ‘Gray Watching in Baja’). The festival includes various cultural events and ecotourism activities but its speciality are whale watching tours. For more, see the main article.
• 5 Feb (*6 Feb 2017): Día de la Constitución (‘Constitution Day’) – National holiday. Commemoration of Mexico’s Constitution of 1917 that was put in place by Venustiano Carraza as one of the main products of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). *Originally celebrated on 5 Feb, the Constitution Day is now, according to Article 74 of the Mexican federal labour law (Ley Federal del Trabajo), observed on the first Monday of February since 2006. It is celebrated with parades, festivals, and family gatherings. For more, see the main article.
• 8–12 Feb (varies): Zona Maco: México Arte Contemporáneo (‘Zone Maco: Mexican Contemporary Art Fair’) – Mexico City. The biggest and best contemporary art fair in Mexico City, held at the Centro Banamex, Hall D. Link 2017 Programme .
• 14 Feb: Día del Amor y la Amistad or Día de San Valentin (‘Day of Love and Friendship’ / ‘Valentine’s Day’) – Observance/nationwide. In Mexico Valentine’s Day is more commonly known as the Day of Love and Friendship – it is not only for lovers as everyone takes part in exchanging cards, flowers, sweets and balloons. It is rather a time to show appreciation to those you care about, so no one is left out. A particular variety of pan dulce (‘sweet bread’) called besos (‘kisses’) are especially popular in Mexico for Valentine’s Day. For more, see the recipe and the main article.
• 14–18 Feb (varies): Expo ENART: Exposición Nacional de Articulos de Regalo y Decoración Artesanal Mexicana (‘Expo ENART: Mexican Handicrafts Fair’) – Tlaquepaque, State of Jalisco. A major trade show of decorative arts and crafts that takes place twice a year (mid-Feb and mid-Aug) in the Centro Cultural el Refugio in Tlaquepaque, a municipality on the outskirts of Guadalajara. More than 200 exhibitions are included from all states of Mexico, showing various media: wood, glass, papier-mâché, jewelry, ceramics, textile and fiber, and leather, as well as metalwork in iron, tin, and pewter. Although geared primarily to wholesale sales, individuals may also attend the exposition and buy items. Link 2017 Programme.
• 19 Feb: Día del Ejercito or Día de la Lealtad (‘Army Day’ / ‘Day of Loyalty’) – Civic holiday. Celebration of the foundation of the Mexican Army on 19 Feb 1913, following the Marcha de la Lealtad (‘Loyalty March’) on 9 Feb 1913, when 33rd President of Mexico, Francisco I. Madero (1873–1913) (in office: 6 Nov 1911–19 Feb 1913), was escorted from Chapultepec Castle to the National Palace by the cadets of the Military College.
• 22–28 Feb (varies Feb/Mar, a weekend before Lent): Carnaval (‘Carnival’) – A 5/6-day festive season in various locations in Mexico. It now typically involves a public celebration or parade combining elements of a circus, mask and public street party. Traditionally, the festive season marks the end of winter finishing on Shrove Tuesday (*28 Mar 2017) before the period of 40 days of Lent (La Cuaresma) before Easter begins on Ash Wednesday (*1 Mar 2017). For more, see the main article.
• 24 Feb: Día de la Bandera (‘Flag Day’) – Civic holiday/observance. Commemoration of the first public Pledge of Allegiance to the Mexican flag made by the General Vicente Guerrero – one of the leading revolutionary generals of the Mexican War of Independence (16 Sep 1810–27 Sep 1821) against Spain – on 12 Mar 1821. It is celebrated since 1937 when the 44th President of Mexico, General Lázaro Cárdenas (1895–1970) (in office: 1 Dec 1934–30 Nov 1940) pledged his allegiance to the flag before the monument to the General Guerrero to symbolically reenact this historical event. For more, see the main article.
• 24–26 Feb (varies): Festival Musica de San Pancho (‘San Pancho Music Festival’) – San Francisco, State of Nayarit. An annual 3-day music festival held in a small beach town of San Francisco on the Pacific coast. This year it celebrates its 15th anniversary – it was founded in 2001 as a small gathering of locals held in the backyard of a local resident, but by 2006 the lineup included 116 artists and has been growing since. The festival includes performances by local musicians, as well as those from the USA and Latin America. Link 2017 Programme.
• 26 Feb (varies): El Show de Perros de Los Barriles (‘Los Barriles Dog Show’) – Los Barriles, State of Baja California Sur. A dog’s show is held in Los Barilles, a small town in La Paz municipality, for the second year due to a huge success of the 2016 show. It takes place at the Hotel Palmas de Cortez (from 10.30 am) and is run by the Baja Kennel Club. Link 2017 Programme.
• 27 Feb–4 March (varies): Abeirto Mexicano de Tenis (‘Mexican Tennis Open’) – Acapulco, State of Guerrerro. The tournament – held in Acapulco a major beach resort on the Pacific coast – is the largest tennis event in Latin America and it attracts international tennis champions. Link 2017 Programme.
• 28 Feb–4 Mar (varies): Regata Internacional Bahía de Banderas (‘Banderas Bay Regatta and Nautical Festival’) – Nuevo Vallarta, State of Nayarit. An annual event in Nuevo Vallarta in Bahía de Banderas on the Pacific coast. The regatta is the one of the biggest regattas for cruisers and racers in the world and is the largest and oldest on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Link 2017 Programme.
March is warming up all over the country, and sea resorts are again getting busy in the weeks around Easter just like at Christmas. It is the month of spring celebrations – Equinoccio (‘Spring Equinox’) (20–21 Mar, *20 Mar 2017) – when many spring festivals are held, most famously at the archeological zone of Chichén Itzá (State of Yucatán), as well as those of Teotihuacan (State of Mexico) and El Tajín (State of Veracruz). Spring holidays either fall in the month of March or April depending on the time of Semana Santa or Semana de Pascua (‘Holy/Easter Week’) (*9–16 Apr 2017). Easter is calculated according to the date of the Spring Equinox – in Gregorian calendar, Easter falls on the 1st Sunday following the first paschal full moon after the Spring Equinox. If the first full moon occurs on the Equinox, Easter is on the following Sunday. Thus, Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. The calculation of the date of Easter also determines the date of Carneval (‘Carnival’) (*22–28 Feb 2017) and La Cuaresma (‘Lent’) (*1 Mar–13 Apr 2017). The third Monday – Natalicio de Benito Juárez (‘Benito Juárez’s Birthday’) (21 Mar, *20 Mar 2017) – is a national holiday celebrating the birth of the most revered of all ex-Presidents of Mexico, Benito Juarez.
• 1 Mar (varies): Miércoles de ceniza (‘Ash Wednesday’) – Obervance/nationwide. The beginning of La Cuaresma (‘Lent’).
• 1–5 Mar (varies): FCTS-LP: Festival de Cine de Todos Santos–La Paz (‘Todos Santos–La Paz Film Festival’) – Todos Santos and La Paz, State of Baja California Sur. An annual film festival held in Todos Santos and La Paz since 2004. The festival offers a large collection of films and animation that reflects the excellence in local, national and Latin American filmmaking. There are more than 25 feature, documentary and short films – the 2017 edition addresses the issues related to the environment, immigration social justice, music, Mexican history and indigenism. The festival has a strong commitment to the social documentary genre, which enables the local community to learn about social movements around the world. One of the festival main objectives is its educational mission – the youth and video programme, founded by Leonardo Perel in 2006, with the purpose of motivating local children and teenagers in order to tell the stories and legends of their people, to show their customs and traditions, to record the memories of their ancestors, under the instruction of professional filmmakers. Link 2017 Programme.
• 4 Mar (varies): Noche de Brujas (‘Night of the Witches’) – Catemaco, State of Veracruz. An annual all-night festival held, on the first Friday (first weekend) of March, in a special honour to the world of witches and wizards on Cerro Mono Blanco, a hill just outside Catemaco. For more, see the main article.
• 4–11 Mar (varies): Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Zihuatanejo (‘ZIGF: Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival’) – Zihuatanejo, State of Guerrero. An annual festival held in Zihuatanejo on the Pacific coast since 2004. It is designed to bring locals and tourists together to enjoy guitar music. Concerts are held at multiple locations every night (on the beach, in restaurants and bars), and there are also children’s shows, as well as a free public show at the main plaza. The Zihua Guitar Fest brings guitarists from all over the world. Profits from the festival go towards supporting arts and educational projects in the community. Link 2017 Programme.
• 10–12 Mar (varies): Festival de Aves de Vallarta (‘Vallarta Bird Festival’) – Puerto Vallarta, State of Jalisco. An annual festival held in Puerto Vallarta – a beach resort situated in Bahía de Banderas on the Pacific coast – since 2011 (cancelled in 2016). Originally organised by the Vallarta Bird Conservancy, the festival is now hosted by the Jardín Botánico Vallarta (‘Vallarta Botanical Garden’) in collaboration with the Centro Universitario de la Costa, or CUC (part of the University of Guadalajara). The Puerto Vallarta region is known to enjoy a vast diversity of birds: endemic, migratory and resident species. At least 30 endemic and up to 400 bird species can be appreciated at some of the many ecosystems surrounding the area: mangroves, coastal lagoons, wetlands, tropical forests, jungles, tropical deciduous forests, thorn forests, pine and oaks forests, and pine evergreen forests. The festival offers birding and nature walks with expert guides, as well as workshops and lectures on conservation from local and international authorities on birding related topics. Link 2017 Programme.
• 10–17 Mar (varies): FICG: Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara (‘Guadalajara International Film Festival’) – Guadalajara, State of Jaslico. The oldest and most important annual film festival in Mexico hosted in Guadalajara since 1968. It shows the best selection of Mexican and Latin American films of the year (feature movies, shorts, documentaries and children’s movies). There are also training programmes designed for young people, offering them the chance to share experience and knowledge with film-industry professionals. Link 2017 Programme.
• 16–19 Mar (varies): FICAM: Festival Internacional de Cine Álamos Mágico (‘Magic Álamos International Film Festival’) – Álamos, State of Sonora. An annual film festival held in Álamos. The primary objective of the festival is to share positive and educational stories about the world and giving emphasis on inspiring documentaries from Sonora and the border regions. Furthermore, it encourages and celebrates the inspirational work of independent filmmakers from all parts of Latin America. Link 2017 Programme.
• 18 Mar: Anniversario de la Expropriacion Petrolera (‘Anniversary of Mexican Oil Expropriation’) – Civic holiday/observance. Commemoration of the event that took place on 18 March 1938, in which the 44th President of Mexico, General Lázaro Cárdenas (1895–1970) (in office: 1 Dec 1934– 30 Nov 1940), expropriated all mineral and oil reserves found within Mexico from foreign control – mainly the countries such as from USA, UK and the Netherlands – and declared the reserves being a vital strategic national asset through the creation of state-owned petroleum company called Pemex.
• 18–21 Mar (varies): Cumbre Tajín: Festival de la Identidad (‘Cumbre Tajín: Identity Festival’) – Papantla, State of Veracruz. An annual artistic and cultural festival that takes place during the Spring Equinox since 2000. The festival provides a great opportunity to learn about the multiple identities of the local indigenous community – the Totonac people – as it is held to celebrate, promote and preserve their cultural heritage through a showcase of a series of events: ancient rituals; traditional music and dance; concerts, theatre and film; conferences and workshop; alternative therapies and healing; local gastronomy; children’s games; multiple artistic expressions (handcrafts); as well as a spectacular night-time show at El Tajín archeological site. Link 2017 Programme. For more, see the main article.
• 20–21 (*20 Mar 2017): Equinoccio (‘Spring Equinox’) – Chichén Itzá, State of Yucatán. An annual astronomical event celebrating the Maya civilisation, through their history and architecture, that takes place at the ancient sacred city of Chichén Itzá (c. AD 600–1200). The archeological site is the most popular spot in Mexico to celebrate the Spring Equinox (the other two sites are those at Teotihuacan and El Tajín). Twice a year, on the Spring (around 20–21 March) and Autumn (around 22–23 Sep) Equinoxes, thousands of people gather at the Temple of Kulkulkan (built between C9–C12) to watch the effect of Kulkulkan (‘Plumed’ or ‘Feathered Serpent’, a Maya snake deity similar to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl) projected on the north side of the terraced pyramid. For more, see the main article.
• 21 Mar (*20 Mar 2017): Natalicio de Benito Juárez (‘Benito Juárez’s Birthday’) – National holiday, but particularly celebrated in Oaxaca, State of Oaxaca. Commemoration of the birth of the most loved and revered ex-President of Mexico, Benito Juárez (21 March 1806–18 July 1872) – the ‘Mexico’s Abe Lincoln’ – who was not only the first President of Mexico but also the only indigenous President ever. His birthday is observed on the third Monday in March. For more, see the main article.
• 23 Mar–25 May (varies): Ambulante Gira de Documentales (‘Ambulante Documentary Film Festival’) –10 States: Mexico City (CDMX), Oaxaca, Chihuahua, Baja California, Jalisco, Michoacán, Puebla, Coahuila, Querétaro, Veracruz). An annual 2-month itinerant film festival founded in 2005 by Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Pablo Cruz and Elena Fortes. The festival seeks to promote documentary film within several states of Mexico and to reach a broader audience by screening films in a wide array of venues. It starts in Mexico City (23 Mar–6 Apr) and finishes in Veracruz (18–25 May). Festival events include film screenings, workshops, talks, seminars, symposiums, and networking panels. Link 2017 Programme.
• 27–30 Mar (varies): Tianguis Turístico México (‘Tianguis Travel Show’) – Acapulco, State of Guerrero. Mexico’s largest annual trade show held in 2017 in Acapulco. It brings together travel industry representatives and journalists from Mexico and buyers around the world in a different Mexican destination each year. The travel show is focused on encouraging the promotion and marketing of all the wonderful destinations in Mexico. Link 2017 Programme.
• 30 Mar–16 Apr (varies): Festival de México en el Centro Histórico (‘Mexico City Festival) – Mexico City (CDMX). An annual festival – one of Latin America’s most vibrant international arts festivals held in the capital city of Mexico since 1985 – featuring unique and innovative events including opera, concerts, theatre, art exhibits and dance productions. Profits from the festival go towards the rescue and restoration of the art and architecture of the historic centre of Mexico City. Link 2017 Programme.
TO BE CONTINUED
- On detailed listings of holidays, festivals and celebrations throughout the year in Mexico see GoMexico or Mexperience or The Real Mexico or Wikipedia or (in Spanish) Ferias de México, Donde Hay Feria and México Desconocido.
- Franz, Carl & Havens, Lorena, The People’s Guide to Mexico, Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.
- Filz, Gretchen, ‘Does Christmas End on Epiphany?’, Catholic Company, 4 Jan 2016. Article.
- ‘Official 2015-2016 Mexican School Calendar’. Secretaría de Educación Pública. Article.
- Paz, Octavio, The Labyrinth of Solitude, Penguin Books, 1985 (first published by Grove Press, 1961).
- ‘Saints by Date’ (calendar format), American Catholic. Article.
- ‘Saints by Date’ (list format), The Real Presence. Article.