Festivals and Events in Mexico City
Mexico City has a full calendar of festivals throughout the year. Here you will find information and a description of the events with links to their websites where available...
Mexican culture is vibrant and colorful, and Mexico City is the largest city in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Mexico itself shares a 2,000 mile border with the world's largest economy. As a result, the capital city's calendar has both cultural and business events, many of which attract international audiences and visitors.
- For details of these and other upcoming events and activities, see the What's On Guide
Epiphany: The 12th day of Christmas, or Día de los Santos Reyes on 6 january is traditionally the evening when Mexican children receive presents brought to them overnight by the Three Kings. Families, friends and work colleagues get together to eat Rosca de Reyes, a special sweet bread decorated with sugared fruit. Inside each Rosca is a small figurine of baby Jesus; whoever receives the piece containing the figurine must then host and provide tamales at the next celebration of Candlemas (Candelería). In Mexico City, floats parade down Avenida Juarez close to the historic center of the city.
Traveling Documentary Film Festival (Ambulante Gira de Documentales). This traveling festival of documentary films takes place between the end of January and early May. It was founded in 2005 by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, for the purpose of screening and promoting documentary films in Mexico, while encouraging their production through a variety of media. The tour consists of projecting Mexican and foreign documentaries in Cinepolis movie theaters and in over 60 other venues around the country. Its program includes sections dealing with social issues and art. The screenings are accompanied by side events with the participation of guest filmmakers, members of the film industry, academics and representatives of NGOs. It is not a competitive festival, but rather gives a percentage of the takings or a set amount to the people who hold the rights to the participating documentaries.
- For further information, Tel: (55) 5511 5073
Candlemas (Día de la Candelería): On 2 February, families to get together to eat Tamales, steamed sweet and savory dumplings cooked in corn leaves. Images of the baby Jesus are dressed and taken to church to be blessed.
Zona Maco Contemporary Art Fair of Mexico (Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo): Contemporary art fair to celebrate and experience the international contemporary art scene. It welcomes over 50,000 visitors annually. First Wednesday to Sunday in February.
Xochimilco Carnival (Carnaval Xochimilco): This event began in 2004 and consists of a series of musical concerts of various genres, art exhibits, food and crafts displays and plays for children. Mid February.
International Mother Language Day (Día Internacional de la Lengua Materna): In Mexico 68 indigenous languages and more than 364 dialects deriving from them are spoken. To celebrate this, a number of artistic and cultural activities representing the regions and cultures where these languages are spoken are organized around the city over five days around 21 February.
- For further information, Tel: (55) 4155 0369
Flag Day (Día de la Bandera): Celebration on 24 February of the adoption of the red, green and white flag with the symbolic eagle, snake and cactus by the Mexican state in 1934. Mexican flags are sold at street stalls throughout the city and flown high above buildings.
Palacio de Minería International Book Fair (Feria Internacional del Libro del Palacio de Minería): Based in the Palacio de Mineria in the historic center of Mexico City, the primary objective of this fair is to introduce and celebrate the latest developments and publications in Mexico's editorial industry. Takes place late February.
Xochimilco Festival (Xochimilco Festival de la Flor mas Bella): This four day event takes place two weeks before Easter in the south of the city. It honors the Goddesses of flowers and dance (Xochipilli and Maculxochitl) to ensure the harvests will be good.
Festival of Mexico (El Festival del Centro Histórico): The festival began in 1985 as a non-profit event to aid the restoration of the center of Mexico City. Today it is one of the most important cultural celebrations in Mexico City, and one of the largest and most innovative in Latin America. It is a high profile event with activities throughout the patios, squares, cloisters, churches and theaters of the historic center of the city (which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987). It attracts many international artists and acts, and hosts many cultural and educational activities. It takes place from mid to late March.
Holy Week (Semana Santa): Easter week is one of the most important religious celebrations in Mexico City, with an enormous re-enactment of the Passion of Christ in Iztapalapa district, and Palm Sunday parades at local churches throughout the city. The city tends to empty this week as people take advantage of the public holidays on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to take time off work.
International Classic Car Competition (Concurso Internacional de Elegancia para Autos de Colección): Held in early April, the event includes displays of beautiful cars from bygone days. It takes place in the township of Dos Rios, Xuixquilupan in the State of Mexico.
International Dance Day (Día Internacional de la Danza): This 24- hour event is supported by the National Institute of Fine Arts and consists of workshops, performances and a long dance marathon. It takes place near the end of April and attracts thousands of visitors to the city.
Children's Day (Día del Niño): This family oriented event on 30 April is based around the historic center of the City, and features a range of free entertainment for children, including puppet shows, games and workshops. Schools often organize outings for their students to these or other special events.
Labor Day (Día del Trabajo): A public holiday on 1 May celebrating the Mexican workers' union movements. Workers parade through the streets in some areas of the city.
International Museum Day (Día Internacional de los Museos): In mid-May Mexico City holds special themed events in over 150 of its museums, with free guided tours, workshops and much more. Some public transport routes offer free travel on this day.
Friendly Cultures Fair (Feria de las Culturas Amigas): During the last week of May and the first week of June diplomatic and cultural representatives from nations around the world display their cultures with colorful processions, country booths and a program of national and international cultural activities.
Gay Pride Parade (Desfile del Orgullo Gay): Annual LGBT event on the last Saturday of June along Reforma Avenue.
San Agustin de las Cuevas Festival (Fiesta de Agustin de las Cuevas en Tlalpan): Local festival taking place at the end of August in the south of the city, with costumed parades, folk dancing, and food stalls selling local specialities.
Mexican Independence Day: Celebrations begin on the evening of 15 September to commemorate the Grito de Dolores, which led to independence for Mexico in 1810. For weeks beforehand stalls around the city sell Mexican flags, hats and other items decked in the national colors of red, white and green. Crowds gather in an impressive expression of patriotism in and around Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, to see the President on the balcony of the National Palace give the Grito, or cry of independence, culminating in repetitions of Viva Mexico! taken up by the thousands in the square. In addition, there is a light show on the walls of the cathedral and a fireworks display over Mexico City's cathedral.
On 16 September, which is a public holiday, there is a procession from 11:00 onwards with Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force soldiers as well as a flypast. The military procession begins on Paseo de la Reforma and ends in an enormous parade in the main square (Zocalo). Airline flight schedules are often amended on this day due to the flypast.
Day of the Dead Market (Tianguis del Día de Muertos en Xochimilco): Large market in the south of the city where many local handicrafts are sold. Based around the Explanada de la Delegación, highlights include dancing, flower stalls and many handmade items for sale.
Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos): On 1 and 2 November people visit the cemeteries where their departed loved ones are buried, often in procession, having decorated them with flowers (marigolds), offerings, keepsakes and candles during preceding days. Many family members will stay at the graves all night. The night of 1 November is traditionally the day the departed children return to earth; the 2 November is when adults come back. This is not a sad occasion, rather it is a celebration of their lives, of life itself, and of death as an integral part of life. People give family and friends candy treats in the shape of skulls and bones made of sugar and chocolate, as well as sweet bread called Pan de Muerto.
Revolution Day (Día de la Revolución): 20 November commemorates the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. There is a large parade in the Zocalo as well as speeches and official ceremonies. In cities and towns throughout Mexico school children dressed as revolutionaries participate in local parades.
Saint Cecilia Day (Fiesta de Santa Cecilia): The patron saint of musicians is remembered on 22 November, with festivities based around the Plaza Garibaldi, where typical Mexican Mariachi and other musicians congregate all year round.
Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe): 12 December commemorates the traditional account of her first appearances to local peasant Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City in 1531. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the country converge on the Basilica de Guadalupe to pay tribute to Mexico's patron saint. Throughout the day and late into the evening people gather to sing, dance, and celebrate. At midnight the Mexican birthday song, Las Mañanitas, is sung at the Basilica, usually by well-known performers. Traffic in the city can be complicated as pilgrims arrive by car, coach, bicycle and on foot, often letting off rockets with bangers as they go.
Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration from 16 to 24 December with nativity parties and processions. Some street processions are still organized in the streets to commemorate Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, but mainly this is a time of parties where family and friends get together to recreate the arrival of the Holy Couple at the Inn, and children take turns to break open the pointed piñatas, full of sweets and candy, while the audience sing traditional accompanying songs and drink traditional ponche.
New Year's Eve (Año Nuevo): Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexico City's main square (Zocalo) is full of crowds to celebrate the incoming new year and features fireworks, light shows, live music and dancing.