Most Popular Festivals in Mexico
When one thinks of exploring the world, they envision experiencing exotic foods unfamiliar to their palette, cultural exposure which connects them to a people and place they would’ve never previously been exposed to and a face to face encounter with a celebration of life in some shape or form.
The pleasant mix of hospitality, sun, fun and laughter which relaxes the mind and body and gives a sense of home wherever you go. No other place ticks all of those boxes better than the flamboyant Mexico does, with its friendly hospitable people who are as passionate as they are devoted to their religion, culture, food and celebrations.
Using their bodies, colourful attire and beliefs as an expression and extension of those passions. You could find festivals in most of South America, but no one does it quite like Mexico. Here are a three festivals which can’t be missed.
Vive Latino (March 16-17)
Vive Latino also known as Festival Iberoamericano de Cultura Musical is a music festival held in Fol Sol, Mexico City every single year. This festival is one of Mexico’s most important festivals and hosts a small army of national and international stars and guests. The famous festival features a top notch, big variety of groups as well as music genres. Vive Latino brings about all the different cultures associated with Mexico’s vibrant lifestyle of rhythm and movement and tantalizes the ears of music lovers during the months of May and April.
The festival always stretches over a period of 2-3 days and has a daily attendance of 70 000 people. With that many people in attendance, one day is definitely not enough! Established in 1998, it has been annually celebrated with great success with both locals and tourists alike. Last year they celebrated its 18th birthday in true Mexican fashion.
The concept of this diverse festival is to introduce new bands and groups to the numbers who flock to Mexico ensuring that the festival does not become mundane or mediocre. The festival makes space for different Spanish speaking bands to create alternative music and proposals. It is their openness to new ideas which keeps things fresh.
It doesn’t fit into any box – it is a highly creative platform for musicians and artist’s to showcase their brilliance which they have not failed to do since 1998. Old or young, there is something for everyone at Vive Latino.
This amazing Latin American music culture festival is so diverse it adds stand-up comedy, as well as graffiti that emerges into art to documentaries and urban art to its list of performances. It has the absolute best bands playing on the absolute best stage in Latin America to get you to laugh, cry and hysterically move your body to beat of the music in one night. Festival goers enjoy 2-3 full days of rocking out to their favourite bands all while enjoying their favourite art.
First things first, there is no way that you will be able to see all the acts, you will have to choose wisely. The spontaneity of playing it by ear adds to the experience as you never know the awesome music you’ll discover. If you are an art lover and enthusiast – do some research well in advance to make sure you don’t miss out on an exhibit or seeing the work of your favourite artist. Vive Latino has food, it has drink, it is busy, and it is loud. I think it is safe to say that this festival is not recommended for those with sensitive ears.
Festival Internacional Cervantino (October 9-27)
The quaint colonial architecture in the silver mining town of Guanajuato, Mexico, which draws an impressive number of tourists for its 19th Century museum of mummies, comes alive with dancing, flamboyance and vibrancy for two weeks in the month of October as they celebrate the most important cultural festival of the Spanish world and the fourth most important in the world.
Festival Internacional Cervantino, translates to International Cervantino Festival. Similar in colour to the Vive Latino festival. A smorgasbord of every form of the Arts that is celebrated with music, dance, folklore, theatre and more, by performers from around the world on various stages or various sizes and platforms such as plaza’s theatre’s, parks and even churches.
The festival came into existence paying tribute to Miguel de Cervantes, who was regarded as the greatest Spanish writer. His book entitled “Don Quixote” was translated into over 140 languages, making it the second most translated book to the Bible! With such influence and prolific writings it is no wonder he is celebrated to this day.
The festival came about then in 1953 a man by the name of Enrique Ruelas of the University of Guanajuato, took inserts from Miguel de Cervantes popular book and made plays from it. It was then called, “Entremeses de Miguel de Cervantes Saaevedra.” The festival gained considerable momentum and popularity when the government began to support and fund it to where it is today.
It being a Spanish tribute to a Spanish author, the Arts performed are in mostly, you guessed it, Spanish. An element which brings with it an amount of charm which would be lost in any other language. .
If you have an appreciation for the Arts then this is the place for you! The explosion of everything which makes up Spanish theatre, mixed with the unique sounds and bright expressions, make for an unforgettable festival which cannot be missed. It is definitely for the Shakespearean at heart to enjoy whether Spanish or not!
El Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the dead (November 2)
Each year, on the 1st and 2nd of November, when Catholics honour the Saints who have gone before them on All Saints Day, Mexicans around Mexico and some around the world of all ages and beliefs, honour those who have gone before them as well.
In each household, in bright and beautiful Mexican fashion you find both male and female adorning calavaras (skulls) and calcacus (skeletons), preparing to go to the graves of loved ones with either food or gifts. This celebration though sharing similarities to Halloween with its masks and skull-shaped candy is actually not entirely similar. It is, el Dia de Los Muertos or, Day of the Dead. The difference lies mostly in Halloween being a darker day, but El Dia de Los Muertos a day of celebrating the dead.
On the Day of the Dead, it is believed that on those days, there is a thin curtain which separates the living from the dead allowing loved ones to come back to the earth. Its origins run far deeper than one could imagine.
The origin of this celebration dates back to some 3000 years ago, with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who believed mourning the dead was not honourable for them. They believed that when one died, they lived on in an afterlife. Taken to the land of the dead called Chicunamictlán, where they had to overcome nine arduous heights and uncounted years to reach Mictlán. The place where they could finally rest.
As mentioned earlier, locals would prepare altars for loved ones who have passed and offer them delicious home-cooked meals especially prepared. As well as, thoughtful gifts they knew they would appreciate. There would also be bonfires made as music is played and a splendid array of assorted food to be indulged as a feast along-side those who have already crossed over. A true celebration of life!
You can expect your curiosity piqued as you go on this journey with the locals. Buying skeleton dolls and enjoying skeleton candy, it would definitely be an experience not to be missed. The sounds, music, tastes, and respect for life would be evident throughout, thus giving you a deeper appreciation for both the living and the dead.
No matter your background or temperament cultural beliefs or religion, you can appreciate, enjoy and learn a tremendous amount from what Mexico and their magnificent festivals have to offer, which showcase their talents as well as their rich heritage. Their outward expressions to life displayed in song and dance, the arts and theatre, is evident throughout. The romanticism of the arts coupled with the South American movement. Why not explore and live as you were born to, seeing colours as they truly should be seen while enjoying the scenic sights and balanced sounds that is Mexico. As Hans Christian Anderson so eloquently put it “To Travel is to Live.” So, travel to the unparalleled spirited Mexico and LIVE!
That really nothing stands in your way to your next trip to Mexico, go and visit the German website Backpackertrail to find useful information about Mexico such as must sees for travellers and recommended accommodation.
List of other major festivals
February – Son Jarocho Music Festival
February – San Pancho Music Festival
February – Día de la Candelaria
May – Cinco de Mayo
July – Guelaguetza Festival
September – Dia de la Independencia
December – Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe
December – Las Posadas
6 weeks prior to Easter – Carnival in Veracruz & Mazatlán
Week before Easter – Semana Santa