Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Riviera Maya features interactive activities and performances to celebrate Day of the Dead. // © 2015 Sandos Caracol
Feature Image (above): Day of the Dead is a longstanding Mexican tradition that honors the memory of deceased relatives. // © 2015 Sandos Caracol
As summer wraps up, it’s time to start thinking about autumn travel plans. Mexico provides a seemingly never-ending array of festivals, celebrations and other events as the weather gets cooler in the north. Here are a few noteworthy reasons to head south of the border this fall.
Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16
Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain on Sept. 16, and there are many ways to join the festive mood. In Puerto Vallarta, the excitement begins on Sept. 15, with events in the main plaza and fireworks around midnight to commemorate the grito (cry) for independence that took place back in 1810. On Sept. 16, military and school bands participate in a parade.
Tasty food, such as chiles en nogada, patriotically presented in the colors of the Mexican flag, is an important part of the festivities as well. Puerto Vallarta Food Tours offers one of the easiest ways for visitors to find the eateries with the most colorful platters. Considering celebrating Independence Day in Mexico City, where fireworks, music and parades can be found in various neighborhoods, as well as in the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato, where the cry for independence originated.
Festival of the Sun, Sept. 25 - Oct. 11
Fiestas del Sol (Festival of the Sun) brings live music and spirited parades to the streets of Mexicali to celebrate the founding of the Baja California city. Prominent Mexican pop stars often perform at this event, although organizers can be notoriously slow about announcing the details, so it’s best to check in the weeks just before it takes place.
Festival Internacional Cervantino, Oct. 7-25
One of Mexico’s largest cultural events, Festival Internacional Cervantino is expected to attract more than 3,000 attendees from 34 countries this year and feature 450 activities that include musical and theatrical performances. Among attendees this year are two Nobel prize winners: chemist Roald Hoffmann and astrophysicist George Fitzgerald Smoot. Proyecto Beethoven, an ongoing series of performances of the composer’s greatest work that started in 2013 at the festival, will continue this year.
Day of the Dead, Nov. 1-2
One of Mexico’s most legendary traditions, Day of the Dead is a time to honor the memory of deceased relatives. To make the occasion more accessible to foreign visitors, tour operators including G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer escorted visits to Day of the Dead celebrations in destinations such as Oaxaca and Mexico City. Travelers can also experience the tradition with resort-style hotels such as Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Riviera Maya, which stages traditional activities over a 48-hour period at the beginning of November, guiding guests through a series of interactive events and performances.
Among the events at the hotel is a Fire Show ceremony, led by a shaman, who gives thanks for the sacred elements of water, sun, wind, earth and life. Experiencing Day of the Dead at a hotel such as Sandos Caracol can make for a great family vacation, as the on-site children’s club allows smaller travelers to learn about the tradition through custom-designed activities.
Los Cabos International Film Festival, Nov. 11-15
Big names make the Los Cabos International Film Festival a big deal. Last year, attendees included actress Reese Witherspoon (promoting her film “Wild,” which was the festival opener) and director-screenwriter Richard Linklater (the man behind the acclaimed “Boyhood”). The roster of A-listers is expected to be just as impressive this year, and festival director Alonso Aguilar-Castillo has announced that the FIPRESCI Award, given out by the International Federation of Film Critics, will be granted for the first time at the festival this year.
And you don’t have to be a celebrity to get in: Passes to the festival and its screenings are available to the general public.