Los Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead)
This is probably one of Mexico’s most traditional events and takes place between October 31st and November 2nd every year. Honouring the dead, it is not a sad festival. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and is used by the natives as a time to remember and rejoice. And when Mexcians rejoice, it’s pretty hard not to get caught up in the festivities. All over the country townspeople dress up as ghosts, mummies and skeletons and parade through their respective towns and villages carrying an open coffin. As the procession makes its way past shops and markets, local vendors throw food, flowers and gifts into the coffin. While it may well sound bizarre, it is a fascinating festival with roots as far back as the days of the Aztecs. There is also traditional music and dance taking place adding to the atmosphere and ensuring that Mexico is an excellent destination to visit during this period.
Taking place from the 22nd to the 28th February every year, Carnaval is the Mexican’s way of indulging before they begin their Lenten fast. Throughout all the major cities in the country huge parades, live concerts and general mayhem take over for at least three days before Ash Wednesday as the locals indulge in earnest. The best places to avail of the festivities are Veracruz, San Miguel and Mazatlan where the goings on strongly resemble the world famous Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Other cities have adopted a more historical approach where they re-enact ancient battles and the like. But, the one thing that you are guaranteed is that wherever you are, you cannot avoid getting caught up in the revelry of the Carnaval.
St. Michael’s Day, San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is a town with a penchant for festivals and celebrations so it’s highly likely that on September 29th, the day which marks the town’s patron saint, Saint Michael, the atmosphere in San Miguel will be one that you don’t want to miss. In true Mexican tradition, the town will host bull fighting, cock fighting and bullrunning through the streets. Apparently, it’s customary to spill some blood to help celebrate the day of a patron saint. But, for the animal rights officers or the squeamish among you the good news is that there are parades of locals in traditional garb, live folk concerts and one huge party to help you have a good time.
Cancun Jazz Festival
If Cancun is a destination that you may have in mind then try to make it between May 22nd and 26th when the city’s jazz festival takes place. It now attracts up to 50,000 people every year which is a good indication of just how big this event has become in recent years. Featuring a host of musicians from all over the world and with a multitude of free indoor and outdoor concerts in the picturesque surroundings that the city has to offer, this really is something that you can’t afford to avoid if you are in the area.
If there is one thing that Mexicans certainly know how to do after dark, it’s party. And just one night out in any of the major towns and cities in the country will clarify that for you. From the live music venues set in historic buildings in downtown Mexico City to the Caribbean clubs of Merida and from clubs that don’t close until dawn in Acapulco to the sophisticated jazz and salsa clubs of Guadalajara, going out at night is something both the locals and visitors to the country seem to thrive on. Be warned, however, you will be expected to stay out until after sunrise and drink copious amounts of the native tipple but it’s all part of the fun.