Mexico is a country full of culture and life, and this is evident in the many festivities that take place throughout the year. From the traditional Day of the Dead celebration to the colorful Cinco de Mayo, each holiday brings its own unique customs, decorations, and rituals. There are also special events that are held in honor of the country's history, such as the Independence Day parade, which is a national tradition. Additionally, many festivals are held throughout the year to celebrate the country's cultural heritage, featuring traditional music, dancing, and food. No matter what time of year it is, Mexico is always alive with celebration and joy, a testament to its vibrant spirit.
Three Kings Day
6th of January
The Three Kings Day, or Día de los Reyes, celebrates the day the three kings visited Jesus after his birth. This is the day most kids receive their Christmas gifts, not from Santa but from the Three Kings. People will also share traditional foods such as rosca de reyes - a brioche-style cake with candied fruit and a small doll inside. The person who gets the slice with the doll then has to host the Candlemas celebrations on February 2nd, and they must supply the tamales!
Day of the Candlemas
2nd of February
The Day of the Candlemas, or Día de la Candelaria in Mexico, is a special day of celebration and remembrance for many. It commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary at the Temple in Jerusalem and her presentation of the infant Jesus as her son to God. This event is celebrated by lighting candles in honor of the occasion, attending mass, and sharing traditional Mexican foods, such as tamales and atole, with family and friends.
5th of February
Constitution Day is a national holiday to remember the day the Constitution of Mexico was adopted in the year 1917. On this day, people will express their patriotism and national pride through parades, parties, and fireworks. Traditional Mexican cuisine will be served throughout the day, providing an opportunity to share in the customs and culture of the country.
Sometime in mid to late February
Carnival is celebrated across Mexico in February and is an exuberant display of culture and tradition. The main festivities take place in Veracruz and the Yucatán, where the streets are filled with vibrant music, colorful costumes, and lively dance performances. From the Friday before Ash Wednesday to the Tuesday before, the atmosphere is alive with parades, parties, and other activities for all ages to enjoy. As part of the festivities, Mexican families take part in traditional activities such as baking sweet bread, which is then shared among neighbors and friends.
Usually late February (46 days before Easter)
Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day that marks the beginning of the season of Lent. In Mexico, this day is celebrated with a wide range of religious ceremonies and services, such as Mass and the ritual of having ashes placed on the forehead. Also, many observe a period of fasting and abstinence, abstaining from certain activities and foods for the duration of the Lenten season.
Benito Juarez Day
Third Monday in March
Benito Juarez Birthday is a national holiday in honor of Benito Juarez, one of Mexico's most revered presidents and a symbol of liberty and justice for many Mexicans. On this day, people will commemorate his life and legacy with parades, parties, and fireworks, as well as speeches and other events, particularly in the city he was born - San Pablo Guelatao.
Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza
Around the 21st of March
For the Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza each year, thousands of people gather at the Temple of Kukulcan to witness the incredible phenomenon of the serpent's shadow that appears down the side of the temple. It's a fantastic chance to experience the ancient Mayan culture and history of the region and to immerse oneself in a unique and spectacular event that has been celebrated for thousands of years.
Usually late March (the week before Easter)
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a week-long celebration of Easter, where people take part in religious processions, hold vigils, and decorate altars with bright colors and flowers in memory of Christ's journey. Most cities will all but shut down during this time as locals participate in celebrations. Each day brings a different tradition and whether you are in a small village or a large city, there will be no shortage of celebrations.
During this week, people will congregate in popular locations such as Pátzcuaro, Guanajuato, and Taxco, where they can join in religious processions, admire decorated altars and sample traditional foods.
Festival de México en el Centro Histórico
Usually late March - early April
The Festival de México en el Centro Histórico is a celebration of Mexico's culture, heritage, and history. Held in the historic center of Mexico City each year, the festival features a range of activities such as music, dance, theatre, art exhibitions, and traditional Mexican food. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience the country's lively culture and to come together to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Mexico.
First Sunday on or after March 21st
Easter is one of the most important holidays in Mexico and is celebrated in a grand and festive manner. Decorating eggs is a popular activity, and the traditional Easter procession is the star of the show. People come from all across the country to participate in the parade of floats, music, and dance that proceeds through the streets. In addition to the procession, many people attend religious services and feast on traditional dishes to commemorate the holiday.
Cinco de Mayo
5th of May
Cinco de Mayo is held every year in commemoration of the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In the town of Puebla in particular, people take to the streets wearing traditional costumes and holding Mexican flags, accompanied by festive music filling the air.
16th of May
Independence Day is marked by huge street fiestas, delicious food, grand parades, and dazzling fireworks that light up the night sky. Not only is it a day of celebration, but it is also an opportunity to remember a significant part of Mexico's history and the heroes that fought for its independence.
11th of June
Corpus Christi is, put very simply, a celebration of the Holy Communion. Throughout the day there are a variety of religious services and processions taking place. People gather in churches to celebrate the feast, while processions with solemn music and colorful banners wind through the streets.
Dia de San Pedro y San Pablo
29th of June
Dia de San Pedro y San Pablo is a day in honor of the two saints, Peter and Paul. On this day, people gather at churches and take part in processions with elaborate floats, buoyant music, and vibrant dancing at various places throughout the country.
Last two Mondays of July
The Guelaguetza Festival is an exciting celebration of the indigenous culture of Oaxaca and its people. This event is a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the region, with plenty of traditional music, dance, theatre, and food. Today, you’ll see dancers wearing colorful traditional costumes and performing regional folk dances.
Ensenada Grape Harvest Festival
Usually early - mid-August
In Mexico’s largest wine-producing region, the Ensenada Grape Harvest Festival is held every year and is considered one of the largest in Latin America. It is a celebration of the region's wine-making traditions, as well as a great opportunity for visitors to sample the local produce. Throughout the festival, there is a wide selection of wines, which are divided by grape variety rather than by winery. This allows visitors to explore the different flavors and styles that the region has to offer. In addition to the wine samples, many restaurants are also invited to showcase their delicious cuisine.
Assumption of the Virgin Mary
15th of August
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a holy day of celebration for many people when they come together to honor the mother of Jesus. This day is spent visiting churches and participating in processions with music and dance. During these processions, there is usually a statue of Mary that is carried through the streets.
International Mariachi Festival
Usually late August
The International Mariachi Festival brings musicians from all over the world to Guadalajara. Visitors to this event will be able to experience performances of traditional mariachi music and dancing. This is an incredible opportunity to get a feel for the country's traditional and modern music. There is also an annual parade that winds through the city streets filled with floats, bands, dancers, and horses.
Mexican Independence Day
16th of September
Mexican Independence Day commemorates the day when Mexico declared its independence from Spanish rule in 1810. This day, similar to the 4th of July celebrations in the USA, is one big fiesta as people gather with family and friends to enjoy parades and fireworks to commemorate the occasion.
Fall Equinox at Chichen Itza
Around the 22nd of September
Similar to the equinox in Spring, during the Fall Equinox at Chichen Itza, thousands of people gather at the Temple of Kukulcan to witness the incredible phenomenon of the serpent's shadow that appears down the side of the temple. It's a fantastic time to visit Chichen Itza if you’re in Mexico during this time as you’ll also be able to explore the grounds while you’re there, with this little added bonus!
Feria Nacional de Mole
The Feria Nacional de Mole is held in Mexico City each year. It is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to experience the traditional flavors of this region of Mexico and sample a wide selection of different mole dishes. Not only will there be an array of Mexican food to enjoy, but there is also a carnival-like atmosphere with games, entertainment, bull riding, wrestling, and a rodeo!
Day of the Dead
1st & 2nd of November
The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is arguably the most well know Mexican celebration around the world. It is believed that during this day, spirits can pass back to the physical world, allowing them to reunite with their loved ones once again. Home altars are decorated brightly with marigold flowers, photographs, sugar skulls, candles, and other offerings such as the person’s favorite food. Graves are cleaned and decorated in a similar fashion. This day is celebrated with much enthusiasm and is seen as a day of celebration rather than mourning. Mexico City hosts an annual parade and the surrounding areas are decorated with beautifully crafted alters. Skeleton face paint is also a much-loved tradition of this day as a way to celebrate those who have passed away. If you attend only one festival in Mexico, this should be it!
20th of November
Revolution Day is celebrated in Mexico on the 20th of November each year to commemorate the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. On this day, people from all over the country will come together to celebrate with parades, parties, fireworks, and traditional Mexican food. Festivities will often include a re-enactment of the 'Grito de Dolores', the famous speech given by Miguel Hidalgo that marked the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence. It is a day to commemorate the brave individuals who stood up to the oppressive regime of the past and to celebrate the freedom and independence that Mexico now enjoys. Many Mexicans take this day as an opportunity to reflect on the history of their country and to appreciate the current democracy. It is a day full of excitement and patriotism, and a time for all Mexicans to come together and celebrate their shared history.
20th of November
Revolution Day celebrated the beginning of the Mexican Revolution which began in 1910. To commemorate this significant event, people across the country come together to celebrate in a variety of ways. Parades of colorful floats, lively markets where you can buy traditional Mexican snacks and souvenirs, and festive parties and fireworks displays are just some of the ways that people commemorate this milestone in Mexican history. Throughout the celebrations chants of “Viva la Revolución!” and “Viva Mexico!” will be heard throughout the streets!
Virgin of Guadalupe Feast Day
12th of December
The Virgin of Guadalupe Day is to remember the day the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego. The Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the center of the day's celebrations where a big mass and festival are held in her honor. Processions with music and traditional Mexican dance are also held, and it is not uncommon to find people in the streets of Mexico enjoying the festivities. But the best way to spend this day is with a big Mexican feast!
From 16th of December to 24th of December
Las Posadas is a nine-day festival that is a celebration of the Biblical story of Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem. As a way to reenact this, each night, a small procession of people carrying candles and often accompanied by musicians, will travel through the neighborhoods to pre-selected homes and ask for shelter. Each home will send them away until they reach the final one which will invite them inside and offer them food, warm drinks, and a festive pinata for the children to take part in.
Christmas in Mexico
25th of December
Christmas in Mexico is a truly special time of the year. On the morning of Christmas Day, many people will attend a midnight mass service to honor the birth of Jesus. The rest of the day is spent with family, enjoying a large meal and various other traditional Christmas festivities.
New Year's Eve in Mexico
31st of December
New Year's Eve in Mexico is an occasion full of parties, fireworks, and excitement as the old year draws to a close and the new one is welcomed in. This night has some unique traditions that have been passed down for generations. Amongst these is the eating of twelve grapes, one for each month of the coming year, with each grape associated with a wish for the new year. People also make effigies of the Old Year, called 'Año Viejo', usually fashioned from old clothes and stuffed with paper. As the clock strikes midnight, these effigies are set ablaze, representing the end of the year and all the possibilities that the new one will bring. As the flames burn away the old year, the hope and promise of the new one is ushered in.
Have we missed any events you think are worth mentioning? If so, let us know!