Things To Do

Mexican Festivals & Holidays

Many Mexican celebrations have connections to pre-Hispanic times and are religious in nature, but civic holidays honor and celebrate historical events. Government offices, schools, banks & some businesses will close for major national holidays. These public holidays are marked with an asterisk *.  Most restaurants, supermarkets and small family operated grocery stores stay open for business all year long.
A useful reference for local events & activities is:

st New Year’s Day* (Año Nuevo)

Three Kings Day (Día de los Santos Reyes)
This is the day when Mexicans give Christmas presents to their children, like the arrival of the three wise men bearing gifts to baby Jesus.  Neighborhoods & the Plaza have piñatas for local children – fun to watch!

nd Constitution Day* (Aniversario de la Constitucion)

Second week of February -
Chili Cook Off Festival
This is held alongside the Tobolandia water park – opposite Walmart - & runs from Friday through Sunday.  It's the biggest charitable fundraiser in the area, drawing around 7,000 people, with live music, entertainment, over 100 vendors and artisans & 30 cooks competing for chilli & margarita awards.  A real fun event, with the opportunity to sample delicious chilli, washed down with margaritas or other refreshments.  A very well organised event, with golf carts providing transportation from the car par to the display area for those challenged by the walk.  Link to check exact dates:

th Valentine’s Day (Día del Amor y la Amistad)
Usually a delightful Valentine’s Day concert at the Auditoria directed by Timothy Ruff Welch, with local restaurants pulling out the stops to lay on delicious menus to celebrate this day for all romantics.

Mardi Gras* (Martes de Carnaval)  
Carnaval is a five-day celebration and an official Mexican holiday that starts before the Catholic Lent. Celebrated enthusiastically, Carnaval it's an amazing time with parades, costumed merrymakers, marching bands, floats and dancing in the streets.

st The Birthday of Benito Juárez* (Comemoracion del Natalicio de Juárez) - a highly regarded Mexican president and national hero. 

Holy Week (Semana Santa) 
Ends the 40-day period of Lent.  Included in the week-long celebrations are Maundy Thursday (El Jueves Santo), Good Friday (Viernes Santo), Easter Vigil (Vigilia Pascual), and culminates with Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección). Ajijic showcases a 3 day Passion Play that isn’t Oberammergau, but is pretty awesome just the same. This is one of those festivals where confetti filled eggs are traditionally broken over heads for fun – be warned! Check out the following link for more information:

st Labor Day* (Día del Trabajo)

th Cinco de Mayo*
Mexican national holiday commemorating a Mexican victory against an invading French army at Puebla in 1862.

st Navy Day*

Time to draw breath before the next fiestas & enjoy the pleasures of the “rainy season” – green mountains, a gradually filling Lake & quieter streets!

th - September 6th
Guadalajara’s International Mariachi Festival (Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi)  
If you love Mariachi (handsome men in tight pants playing guitars, violins & trumpets & singing beautifully – what’s not to love!), this is worth a visit – even an overnight stay in Guadalajara.

On the Saturday before Independence Day (September 16
Regatta de Globos (Hot Air Balloon Festival)
This entertaining event takes place on Calle Revolucion on the soccer field, with amateur hot air balloons launching (& crashing!) – a fun day for all.  Take a blanket & a picnic & sit back & enjoy some good, old fashioned family fun!  To get a better idea of the fun & colour, check out this link: Also, check the local newspaper for the exact date:

Horseman’s Day (Día del Charro)
Exhibitions in the Bullring & display of rebozos (shawls) by local ladies in the Plaza in Ajijic.

th Cry of Independence, 1810 (Grito de Dolores) 
Festivities, parades, dancing & fireworks!

Independence Day* (Día de la Independencia) 
Celebrates the early morning cry for freedom by Father Miguel Hidalgo that started the Mexican revolt against the oppression by the Spanish crown.

th onwards 
Guadalajara-Zapopan Pilgrimage (Romeria de la Virgen de Zapopan) Candlelight processions through the streets (largely women) following “the Virgen” (brought from Zapopan for the celebrations).  Processions, fireworks, floats, music & dancing, culminating in festivities in the Plaza.

All Souls’ Day* (Día de los Muertos)
A very important day in the lives of Mexicans (& many Europeans & Latin Americans) when families come together to honour the memory of their dead relatives.  They spend time visiting the graves of their family members & decorating them with mementos of clothing, photos, candles, flowers - & even favourite foods & drink!  It's fascinating to visit (with respect!) local cemeteries (panteones) to see the beautiful decorations on the graves.  At night all the candles are lit & there's often music playing, so a different perspective from the daytime atmosphere.  In Chapala, Calle 5 de May, is closed off & houses have simple (or elaborate) memorials inside & outside to their dead family members. This is the day when the "dolls" - Catrinas - immortalised by J D Posada are to be seen everywhere.  Diane Pearl's Gallery (corner of Colon/Ocampo in Ajijic) always stocks an amazing collection of these delightful calaveras (skeletons) in many different modes of dress & colourful costumes.  
Link to Diane's website: The year 2012 saw Ajijic’s first celebration of the lives of memorable local residents with altars in their memory erected in the Plaza, together with music and other festivities. Hopefully this exciting new event for the Village will grow each years & rival the activities in Chapala!

Revolution Day* (Día de la Revolucion Mexicana) 
Mexican Revolution Day

el Feria del Maestros
Held annually in Chapala (at the Yacht Club) is an event not to be missed.  This Art Show brings craftsmen (& women) from all over Mexico to display/sell their work & draws people from all over the world to view/buy it.  Not to be missed if you’re coming to Lake Chapala in November.  
Check link for actual dates:

Fiestas Patronales San Andres, Ajijic
Ajijic's patron saint is San Andres or Saint Andrew. The Fiestas de San Andres in Ajijic begin in the middle part of November for nine nights with morning & evening processions, nightly castillos (fixed firework displays), games and activities on the town Plaza & frequent sky rockets (cuetes). 
If you don’t like noise, don’t come to Ajijic at this time!

Patroness of Mexico (Virgen de Guadalupe)
Mexico's patron saint. One of the most important events in Mexican life with processions, special masses & fireworks.

Christmas Day* (Navidad)