1. Day of the Dead, 2. Vive Latino, 3. Ambulante, 4. Guadalajara International Book Fair, 5. Mexican Independence Day, 6. Guelaguetza, 7. San Marcos Fair, 8. Festival Internacional Cervantino, 9. Carnaval, 10. Night of the Radishes. Mexico is a country with a rich cultural past and present, as well as a full calendar of annual events and festivals to match! Mexico has it all, whether you're looking for a Mexican music festival, a life celebration, or an internationally recognized literature festival. Let’s take a look at the most famous festivals in Mexico with Toplist now!
- Day of the Dead
- Vive Latino
- Guadalajara International Book Fair
- Mexican Independence Day
- San Marcos Fair
- Festival Internacional Cervantino
- Night of the Radishes
Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a holiday commemorated on November 1 and 2. It is one of the most famous festivals in Mexico, although it is also observed in other countries, particularly by persons of Mexican ancestry. Although it is related with the Western Christian Allhallowtide observances, it is depicted as a holiday of joyous celebration rather than melancholy. Family and friends gather for the multi-day event to pay their respects and remember relatives and family members who have passed. These commemorations might take on a lighthearted tone as mourners recall amusing occurrences and anecdotes about the deceased.
Food is eaten by living people and presented to the spirits of their departed ancestors as ofrendas (‘offerings’) during Day of the Dead celebrations. Tamales are one of the most popular foods served for both purposes on this day.
Drinks, in addition to food, are a major part of the Day of the Dead ritual. Historically, the major alcoholic drink was pulque, but nowadays, families would frequently drink their ancestors’ favorite beverage. Atole and champurrado, two warm, thick, non-alcoholic masa drinks, are also connected with the event.
Date: November 1st – November 2nd
Source: World Nomads
Vive Latino is a music festival held every year in Mexico City. It is one of Mexico’s most major music events, presenting a wide range of bands from many genres.
Usually throughout the months of March and April, the Vive Latino takes place in Foro Sol. The festival has been one to three days in length, depending on the quantity of live performances, but it has been two or three days since 2010. The first version was published in 1998, and it has been updated every year since then (except for 1999 and 2002). The number of phases has varied throughout time, from two to four.
The Vive Latino’s purpose is to bring together important and up-and-coming musicians from across Ibero-America for three days each year to provide a space for alternative music and fresh ideas from various Spanish-speaking bands. Numerous major musical performances by many performers from Latin America and Spain have occurred during the festival’s existence.
Location: Mexico City
Date: March – April
Source: el financiero
The Ambulante or Ambulante Documentary Film Festival, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting documentary films as a weapon for social and cultural change. Ambulante, which was founded in 2005 by actors Gael Garca Bernal, Diego Luna, and Elena Fortes and is now directed by Paulina Suárez, aims to strengthen documentary film culture in Mexico and Central America in order to contribute to a more open and critical society and to facilitate access to diverse perspectives from around the world.
The Ambulante Documentary Film Festival, Mexico’s largest documentary film festival and a project that stands alone as a unique screening space, is one of Ambulante’s most iconic ventures. The Festival has traveled thousands of miles across México for over sixteen years with one goal in mind: to create an exciting and meaningful contact between documentary film and its audience.
Date: February – May
Source: Prince Claus Fund
Source: Prince Claus Fund
Guadalajara International Book Fair
The Guadalajara International Book Fair, or FIL, is the largest book fair in the Americas and the world’s second-largest book fair after Frankfurt. In the Spanish-speaking world, it is also regarded as the most important cultural annual event of its sort.
The FIL’s goal is to provide an ideal business environment for both book industry experts and exhibitors attending the fair, as well as readers eager to meet authors and pick up the latest releases. Every year, FIL takes place in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, beginning on the final Saturday in November and lasting nine days.
In 2020, the book fair received the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. Guadalajara was named the World Book Capital in 2022. In this aspect, the book fair is gearing up to welcome the highest number of countries ever to attend. It is definitely one of the most famous festivals in Mexico.
Date: Late November – Early December
Source: Publishing Perspectives
Source: British Council Arts
Mexican Independence Day
On September 16, Mexican Independence Day, Mexico is the finest place to be. For for 300 years, Mexico, formerly known as New Spain, was a severely controlled colony of the crown of Spain. Only Spaniards were allowed to occupy political positions, and the native population was persecuted. Farmland and personal wealth were confiscated, and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political positions.
This fiesta-friendly event commemorates Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810, and it’s full of national pride, colorful parades, mariachi concerts, and Sabrosa food, Sabrosa food, Sabrosa food. People of Mexican ancestry all across the world remember this pivotal moment in their country’s history, when a brave priest in the village of Dolores rang his church bell and delivered a stirring speech that kicked off the country’s fight for independence from Spain. Even Mexico’s President takes part, ringing the same bell — which is now over 200 years old — live on television the night before the Mexican Independence Day event.
Date: September 16th
Source: Hoteles City Express
The Guelaguetza, also known as Los lunes del cerro (Mondays on the Hill), is a Mexican indigenous cultural event held annually in the city of Oaxaca, the state capital, and adjacent municipalities. This is one of the most famous festivals in Mexico. Traditional costumed dancing by gender-separated groups is part of the festival.
Parades of indigenous walking bands, native foods, and statewide specialty items, such as pre-Hispanic style textiles, are all part of the festivities. Each costume, or traje, and dance has a historical and cultural significance to the indigenous people of the area. While the festival has attracted an increasing number of tourists, it is primarily a celebration of great cultural significance for the state’s indigenous peoples and is critical to their survival.
In modern Oaxaca, indigenous groups from across the state congregate at the Guelaguetza to showcase their local customs, which are mostly expressed through music, costumes, dances, and food. It is the most well-known indigenous gathering in Mexico. Many associated side activities accompany the Guelaguetza celebration, including a presentation of “Princess Donaj,” an epic based on indigenous custom, the day before the Guelaguetza begins.
Date: July – August
Source: Visit Mexico
Source: Sin Postal
San Marcos Fair
San Marcos Fair is a three-week national fair held every year in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes. The majority of the fair’s activities, however, take place in Aguascalientes, the state capital.
The fair was originally linked to the vendimia because wine production was formerly a major industry in Aguascalientes. It is now a popular tourist destination with a strong connection to bullfighting and cockfighting. Every year, an estimated seven million people attend the fair, which means hotels are usually fully booked. However, some locals rent out their homes to tourists and go on vacation during this time.
The San Marcos Fair is organized by an independent foundation that manages the fair’s governance, but it is backed by Aguascalientes’ state and city governments.
The fair features a wide range of activities, the most popular of which are bullfighting and cockfighting. After a series of cockfights, a concert by a well-known Mexican musician is usually held; this event tends to attract more attention than the bouts themselves.
Date: April 25th
Source: Kinetic Kennons
Festival Internacional Cervantino
The Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC), also known as El Cervantino, is an annual fall festival held in the central Mexican city of Guanajuato.
The festivities take place in the city’s forty-nine theaters, plazas, and other venues, with satellite events taking place in other plazas across the state and across the country. The Festival in Guanajuato takes advantage of the diverse indoor and outdoor venues available.
Carnival is celebrated in Mexico by over 225 localities in diverse ways, with the largest and most famous festivals and events taking place in Mazatlán and Veracruz.
Larger celebrations which are comparable to other Carnivals in that they feature floats, queens, and costumes, but are not as massive as those held in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. Carnival traditions in smaller and more rural areas have preserved more of Mexico’s indigenous and religious heritage, and they differ based on the local indigenous cultures into which Carnival was integrated.
Veracruz and Mazatlán have the two largest modern public Carnival festivities in Mexico, with other large celebrations attracting significant numbers of people, largely from Mexico. The majority of the larger carnivals begin with the burning or condemnation of a “mal humor” (bad mood) effigy, the election of a Carnival Queen and, occasionally, a King Momo, parades with floats (especially on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday), street parties and vendors, and concerts by musicians performing popular and traditional musical styles. Participants’ costumes range from masquerading as the opposing sex to parodies of political figures.
Location: Veracruz and Mazatlán
Source: Mexico News Daily
Source: Popurrí de Viajes
Night of the Radishes
The Night of the Radishes is an annual event in Oaxaca, Mexico, on December 23rd, dedicated to carving large radishes (Raphanus sativus) into scenarios that compete for prizes in several categories.
The celebration dates back to the colonial period, when the Spanish imported radishes. Farmers began cutting radishes into figures as a tactic to capture buyers’ attention at the Christmas market in Oaxaca, which has a rich wood carving tradition.
The Night of the Radishes has grown in popularity, attracting over 100 competitors and tens of thousands of spectators. Because radishes wilt quickly after being cut, the works can only be displayed for a few hours, resulting in huge lineups for those who want to see them. Displays and competitions for works produced with corn husks and dried flowers, which are created with the same themes as those made with radishes, are also part of the festival.
Date: December 23th
Source: Fearless & Far