As you see yourself, I once saw myself; as you see me now, you will be seen.
      Mexican Proverb


México is the most populous Spanish-
speaking country in the world. According to the latest statistics, México's total population is over 99 million. Mestizos, of Indian and Spanish blood), make up 60% of the population, followed by indigenous peoples  (30%), whites (9%), and other ethnic minorities  (1%).

Carnaval in Mazatlan

Visitors and locals scream, sing, shout and dance amid confetti and ribbons. Bands of all kinds play the infectious rhythms of the State of Sinaloa. And the food–oh, the food–camarones (shrimp) prepared in every way possible, washed down with ice cold Pacifico beer, for it’s Carnaval Time, Mazatlán’s biggest pachanga (fiesta). 
                     Read more

March 12, 2006


  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 jaguar effigies

9- 29 
Feria de León 
León, Guanajuato

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 official website.

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)
Taxco, Guerrero

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.

15 - 22 
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
Alamos, Sonora

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.

Pre-Lenten Carnaval


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 localities.

Día de la Constitución (Day of the Constitution) 

Official holiday commemorating Mexico's constitutions of 1857 and 1917. 


Flag Day

This Mexican national holiday honors the Mexican flag.


Noche de Brujas (Night of the Witches)
Catemaco, Veracruz. 

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 wizards.

Xochimilco Festival 

Mexico City

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 Taxco. 

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
Mexico City

Mexico City's 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 
Aguascalientes, Aquascalientes

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 Festival)
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 Tezcatlipoca

Late April
Xalapa Fair (Feria de Xalapa)
Xalapa, Veracruz

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)

Tlaxcalancingo, Puebla

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

Tecoh, Yucatan

MAY 21- JUN 6
Feria Internacional de Queso y Vino (International Wine and Cheese Festival )
Tequisquiapan, Queretaro 

Taste 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 gourmet varieties. The increasing popularity of this fair has generated appreciation for the lovely small hotels and inns in the area.  


Navy Day 
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)
Papantla, Veracruz

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 of Padua)

Fiesta de San Juan Bautista (Feast of Saint John the Baptist)

Celebrated with popular fairs, religious festivities and practical jokes.

National Ceramics Fair and Fiesta 
Guadalajara, Jalisco

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 Festival)
Papantla, Veracruz

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 Pedro Fair)
Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

The 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:

Fiestas Patrias
Dia de Muertos

July through December

For more information on Mexico's many destinations, click here.


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