of Mexican Holidays and Celebrations
Mexico is a country famous for its lavish
festivals and spirited celebrations. The religious pageantry and the
rich native traditions join in Mexico to create a unique flavor
unmatched anywhere else in the world.
This calendar highlights
Mexico's local festivals--not the new breed reserved for tourists, but
those attended by Mexicans, themselves. No other country in the world
has as many festivals, fairs and feast days as Mexico. People celebrate
national holidays, religious holidays and santos (saints' days)
with many festivities, including lots of good food. Saint's days are
especially prevalent. The santoral, or calendar of saints' days,
is so crowded with names that nearly every day brings a reason for a fiesta
just about anywhere.
Ferias, or fairs
dedicated to local harvests, can be found in just about every region at
some time of the year. These regional celebrations feature rides, games,
fireworks, rides, food stalls, and sometimes parades and exhibitiions.
There's also music and folk dancing, as well as verbenas, night
time dances held in the town plazas.
The following are some
key events displaying Mexico's special flair.
Click on linked events to
read articles about them.
Año Nuevo (New Year's Day)
Mexico rings in the New Year with a wealth of music, dancing, food and fireworks. Streets are filled with revelers, friends and families
congregating for parties that often last till dawn. One tradition calls for eating twelve grapes, one with each stroke of the chiming bell,
at midnight for luck in the coming 12 months. New Year's Day is usually a quiet time of rest and reflection.
Día de los Santos Reyes (Three Kings' Day)
Recalling the arrival in Bethlehem of the Wise Men (Reyes Magos) bearing gifts for the baby Jesus, children throughout Mexico anxiously await
waking to toys and gifts left by the three kings. Rosca de Reyes - a crown-shaped sweet bread decorated with jewel-like candied fruits with a
small doll baked inside, is served on this day. The lucky person who finds the doll in his or her slice of cake must host a party on February
2nd, known as Candlemas Day.
Fiesta de los Santos Reyes (Three Kings Bread Fiesta)
Malinalco, State of Mexico
The traditional Rosca de Reyes, in
some of the most elaborate forms seen in the country, is the highlight
of this celebration in the town which contains the remarkable
Pre-Hispanic Malinalco ruins. A fantastic temple cut into the side of a
mountain has 430 steps leading up to the inner sanctum of eagle and
Feria de León
This three-week fair commemorates the founding of the city of León with some of the year's most famous bullfights, games, entertainment, and
commercial exhibits. The event is also the site of parades, concerts, and great food. The annual event has its own
Fiesta de San Antonio de Abad (Feast of Saint Anthony)
During this celebration, pets and livestock are decorated with flowers and ribbons and taken to church for blessings.
Fiesta de Santa Prisca (Feast of Saint Prisca)
Every year on January 18, the city of Taxco celebrates its patroness in the courtyard of the beautiful Church of Santa Prisca. The town comes
together at dawn, and the dancing, fireworks, and celebrations continue throughout the day. This event provides a great reason to visit the
town, well-known for the works of its silver artisans. The narrow cobblestone street give this peaceful town a traditional look.
Fiesta de San Sebastián Mártir (Feast of Saint Sebastian the Martyr)
Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas
Celebrated the third week in January in Chiapa de Corzo, the feast includes an elaborate show of folkloric festivals, regional costumes, wigs
and masks as the street fills with hundreds of "Parachicos" and
"Chiapanecas". Local delicacies such as Butifarra, the dried specialty
sausage originating in Chiapas and the famous tamales de "chipil"(Mexican special herb) are available in abundance and not to be missed!
Alamos Cultural Festival
For ten days at the end of January, the sleepy town of Alamos, Sonora,
wakes up to the lilting strains of guitars, the pounding rhythms of rock
bands and the echoing arias of opera stars, all part of the Dr. Alfonso
Ortiz Tirado Cultural Festival.
Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas)
Celebrated with candlelit processions and dancing in many towns throughout the country, this day marks the end of Christmas celebrations.
Baby Jesus figurines are taken from nativity scenes to be blessed at
local churches. Markets throughout town restore, paint and dress these
dolls for the special occasion. The
musical events, parades, and dances are especially memorable in the state of Veracruz, in and around the UNESCO World
Heritage site of Tlacotalpan.
A spring celebration
older than Mardi Gras, this celebration is a mix of Easter images with
traditions from pre-Columbian times. Fantastic floats and extravagantly
masked and costumed dancers join in lavish parades. The days and nights
are filled with parties, masquerade balls, special foods and fireworks.
Mazatlan and Veracruz have the best-known Carnaval celebrations, but the
week is a time for festivities throughout the nation. Dates vary among
Día de la Constitución (Day of the Constitution)
Official holiday commemorating Mexico's constitutions of 1857 and 1917.
This Mexican national holiday honors the Mexican flag.
Noche de Brujas (Night of the Witches)
Is modern medicine getting you down? Need
a cure or are you just a bit curious? The small lakeside town of
Catemaco, referred to as the mecca of witch doctors, attracts thousands
of people seeking non-conventional healing methods, and many swear by
the results. Taking place the first Friday night of March every year,
the annual gathering is a spectacle of witches, healers, magicians and
This four-day event is held two weeks before Easter. The pre-colonial festival honored
Xochipilli, the goddess of flowers, and Maculxochitl, goddess of the dance. Every year, a girl is crowned La Flor Mas Bella del Ejido (the most beautiful flower of
Ejido), and she presides over
the parade. Xochimilco is known for its long canals, floating gardens, and colorful barges.
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Important religious images, traditional altars, flower decorations and palm crosses can be seen throughout the country during this period.
Beginning with Palm Sunday, the week's religious celebrations include Holy Thursday and Good Friday and ends on Easter Sunday. Some of the
most moving events of Semana Santa are the reenactments of the Passion of Christ, or the Passion Plays, which vividly display the events
leading up to Christ's crucifixion on the cross. The best-known celebrations are held in Mexico City,
Pátzcuaro, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas), and
Benito Juárez Day (National Holiday)
This national holiday celebrates the birth of the former Mexican president and national hero. Benito Juárez was a leader of the Mexican
revolution. The holiday also marks the first day of Spring.
Equinoccio de la Primavera (Spring Equinox)
Chichen Itza, Yucatan
Thousands of people from around the world travel to Chichen Itza for the unparalleled sight that presents itself on the spring equinox. They
gather in this Mayan ruin on the Yucatan peninsula for the awe-inspiring spring equinox. Visitors witness the afternoon shadow of the
snake-god Kukulcan slowly "crawl down" the country's biggest Mayan pyramid, El Castillo.
8 - 27
Fiesta de Centro Historico
biggest cultural festival features visual arts performances, art exhibits, fine
food and other events held in several venues throughout this historic
center including the Teatro de la Ciudad, Palace of Fine Arts, the
Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palacio Postal.
9 - 30
Feria de San Marcos
This colorful three-week festival features handicrafts, bullfights, folkloric dancing, games, cockfights, cultural events, cuisine and
merrymaking. Experience Mexico's top matadors, firework displays and local culinary specialties in this romantic city long known for its
colonial architecture. Much of the celebration takes place in the village of San Marcos, an Indian settlement near Aguascalientes, and dates
back to 1604.
*16 - 29
Festival del Centro Historico (Mexico City
Regarded as one of Latin
America’s most vibrant celebrations of art and culture, this two-week
festival features diverse events including opera, concerts, theater, art
exhibits, dance productions and gourmet fare. More than a million local
and international spectators will flock to Mexico City for the festival,
and proceeds go toward the rescue and restoration of the art and
architecture of Mexico City’s historic downtown area.
Aztec Day of
Xalapa Fair (Feria de Xalapa)
Referred to as the Athens
of Veracruz, the capital city of Xalapa is bursting with culture. The
Xalapa fair dates back to the 18th century and offers a variety of
artworks, handicrafts and unique products from the region at excellent
prices. The fair features activities for all ages.
Festival de Nopales (Nopales Cactus Festival)
This small town on the
outskirts of Puebla celebrates the nopal (tender edible cactus) annually
with a food fair. Set against a backdrop of snow-covered volcanos, amidst
fields of nopal cactus, this town celebrates its spiney harvest
with a food fair featuring nopal salads, stews, stuffed nopales
and even nopal ice cream, as well as other delicious regional
specialties, grilled meats and barbeque.
Primero de Mayo (First of May)
This national holiday marks the international Labor Day celebration.
Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross)
During this picturesque celebration every building under construction throughout the country is crowned with a cross gaily decorated with
colorful crepe paper streamers and flowers, followed by picnics and fireworks at the sites.
Battle of Puebla Day / Cinco de Mayo
This day commemorates the 1862 battle between the Mexican and French armies at Puebla de Los Angeles. This is not to be confused with the
Mexican Independence Day.
Día de las Madres (Mother's Day)
Día de San Isidro Labrador (Patron Saint of Farmers)
The patron saint of rain, agricultural workers and livestock is venerated on this day. New seeds and animals are blessed.
Festival of the Hammocks
21- JUN 6
Internacional de Queso y Vino (International
Wine and Cheese Festival )
Mexico's best wines and cheeses, and try some delicious local dishes, in
this charming little town, 12 miles from San Juan del Rio. Cheese making
is a specialty here and this
festival showcases some of Mexico's best
increasing popularity of this fair has generated appreciation for the
lovely small hotels and inns in the area.
Observed throughout Mexican ports with civic ceremonies, parades, fishing tournaments, and sailing competitions. Especially colorful in the
northern Pacific ports of Topolobampo, in the State of Sinaloa, and Guaymas, in the State of Sonora, and Caribbean resort of Playa del Carmen
on the Cancun -Tulum corridor. Fireworks are used to commemorate historical battles at sea.
Feria de Corpus Christi (Corpus Christi Fair)
This annual religious festival is celebrated with church services and parades.
All children are taken to the main church in each city to be blessed. In
Papantla, Veracruz, 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 Nahuatl 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 help promote fertility, communicate with the heavens and
honor the sun.
Fiesta de San Antonio de Padua (Feast of San Antonio
Fiesta de San Juan Bautista (Feast of Saint John the
Celebrated with popular fairs, religious
festivities and practical jokes.
National Ceramics Fair and Fiesta
Taking place just outside of Guadalajara, this artisan festival offers exhibits of beautiful Mexican pottery, competitions and parades. This
is a good opportunity to see and purchase some of Mexico's renowned handmade objects directly from the locals themselves.
Festival de Vainilla (Vanilla
Built on a hill overlooking the bright
green plains of northern Veracruz, Papantla is the center of the Totonac
culture and one of the world's largest vanilla producing zones.
The festival hosts indigenous dancers from all over the area performing
the dances of the Quetzales, Negritos, and Voladores, the last one being
done from a 50-foot pole in the church atrium. There are booths with
regional food and beverages, small animal figures and baskets woven from
vanilla bean pods, sachets and vanilla essence.
Fiesta de San Juan Bautista (Feast of Saint John the Baptist)
Celebrated with popular fairs, baptismal events, serenades, religious festivities and practical jokes.
St. Peter and St. Paul Day
Local fiestas honor the saints. In Mexcaltitlán, Nayarit, shrimpers hold a regatta to celebrate the season opening. Many indigenous areas,
including San Juan Chamula, Chiapas; Purepero, Michoacán; and Zaachila, Oaxaca perform pre-Hispanic dances and rituals.
Feria de San Pedro (San
traditions and pastimes of Mexico’s artistic city of Tlaquepaque, on the
outskirts of Guadalajara, will be enjoyed by thousands at this annual
event, taking place at the Unidad Valentín Gomez Farias Children will
take part in a variety of games and activities, including soccer,
wrestling, and even a youth triathlon, while adults will enjoy the more
traditional elements of art and mariachi, while savoring the tastes of the
authentic Mexican cuisine. The most exciting part of the fair is the
"Tlaquepaqueada," a smaller-scale of Pamplona’s Running of the
Bulls, taking place on June 26.
Read these additional
articles on Mexican Fiestas:
Dia de Muertos
more information on Mexico's many destinations, click