Leon’s International Balloon Festival will feature some 200 hot-air balloons. // © 2016 Mexico Tourism Board
Feature image (above) The International Music Festival of Morelia will take place in November. // © 2016 Mexico Tourism Board
Summer may have barely begun, but savvy travelers — and their travel agents — are already looking ahead to fall, when an array of special events and festivities provide even more reasons to travel to Mexico. Here are a few noteworthy happenings in various destinations around the country.
Day of the Dead
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of Mexico’s most legendary traditions, and it’s easy for foreign visitors to partake in and learn about this fascinating pre-Hispanic tradition. The Festival de Calaveras (Festival of the Skulls), celebrated in the state of Aguascalientes during the last week of October and first week of November, is a time for Mexicans to remember deceased loved ones. Visitors can attend musical and theatrical performances, movie screenings, art and design exhibitions, workshops, culinary tastings and other local celebrations — including, most famously, the skeleton street parade.
Travelers looking for an even easier way to connect with the traditions of Day of the Dead can simply book a stay at a hotel where the event is celebrated on-site. Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen has a 48-hour festival on Nov. 1 and 2, complete with decorative ceremonial altars, parades, poetry reading and theatrical performances.
Food lovers may want to head to Mazatlan between Oct. 27-30, when the Culinary Roots festival allows local chefs and restaurateurs to showcase their tastiest creations.
Additionally, from Nov.12-20, the annual Festival Gourmet International takes place in Vallarta Nayarit. Chefs from around the region and the country will gather in Puerto Vallarta, the Riviera Nayarit and Tepic for several mouthwatering days of food tastings, dine-around events at top restaurants and live entertainment.
Mexico will play host to several film festivals this fall. Cine Septiembre: the International Independent Film Festival takes place in Mazatlan during September as part of an international circuit of film festivals. From Oct. 21-30, the International Film Festival of Morelia screens Mexican and foreign films, highlighting the career of a notable figure from Mexican cinema ever year and inviting big-name directors from around the world. The Morelia festival also shows offerings from the Cannes Film Festival, thanks to its partnership with the French event’s Critics’ Week. A variety of outdoor performances, workshops, conferences and exhibitions rounds out the offerings.
Also in the cinematic vein is the Los Cabos International Film Festival, scheduled this year for Nov. 9-13 with a slate of Mexican and foreign films, as well as an impressive number of Hollywood celebrities.
Music and Culture
It’s no surprise that Mexico is home to a seemingly endless number of festivals that celebrate the nation’s rich cultural and musical traditions. From October through December, the Mazatlan Cultural Festival lures travelers with its extensive lineup of theater, dance, live music and visual arts, with performances taking place in venues that include the historic Angela Peralta theater, the convention center and even churches.
Also in October is the International Cervantino Festival, during which the city of Guanajuato stages performances ranging from opera and contemporary dance to theater, as well as workshops, exhibits and conferences. The festival is a good opportunity to see several noteworthy attractions in the city, since events take place in three major theaters — the Juarez, Principal and Cervantes — as well as in outdoor plazas and historic buildings and churches. In addition, some of Mexico’s finest musicians head to Morelia between Nov. 11-27, when the International Music Festival of Morelia takes place.
Seeing the Serpent
Sept. 22 is the fall equinox this year, and that means that visitors to Chichen Itza during this time will witness a rare sight: the form of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, formed by a shadow on the stairs of a pyramid. More than 70,000 travelers are expected to gather for this memorable occasion.
Up in the Air
For a peaceful and incredible scenic experience, vacationers can head to Leon, in the state of Guanajuato, from Nov. 18-21 for the International Balloon Festival — one of the very few such ballooning events in the world. Some 200 balloons will take to the skies during the four-day festival, and visitors can also join excursions that include hiking, mountain biking, rappelling, fishing and camping.