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A picturesque mix of Spanish and Mexican culture hiding in the parched highlands of central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is known for its cobblestone streets, lovely plazas and beautiful colonial architecture, including the famous pink Parroquia that towers over the central square. But it’s also a sizzling fiesta town, with parties that last all night and colorful performances — some that date back to ancient indigenous traditions. Many festivities take place in the fall, and nearly all include mariachi bands, dancing in the streets and voluminous fireworks that often overshadow even the best Fourth of July pyrotechnics.
“Fall is a great time to experience San Miguel de Allende,” said Christian Ramirez Gonzalez of the Tourist Council of San Miguel de Allende. “We have many events happening during this time, and the weather is beautiful.”
The autumn festivities in the city kick off on Sept. 16 with Mexican Independence Day. The independence movement began in San Miguel de Allende, where the rebels first conspired against the Spaniards, so the city now celebrates this national holiday with gusto.
One of the most beloved events of the year is the celebration of the city’s patron saint, San Michael the Archangel, in a festival that takes place Sept. 29, shortly after Mexican Independence Day. Lasting for three to four days, the festivities include several spectacular performances. Kicking off the event is a late-night parade of mojigangas — a procession of larger-than-life dancing puppets that are made by local artists. People sing and dance on the streets as mariachi bands play music until dawn, and fireworks light up the sky long after midnight. If you ask a local, they may even let you wear their mojigangas outfit.
In the following days, conchero dancers arrive — different indigenous tribes dressed in traditional clothes and masks, dancing to drum rhythms. The flamboyant performance is a mix of folk dancing, religious ceremony and commemoration of the Spanish conquest.
Another not-to-miss spectacle is the ancient ceremony of Voladores de Papantla, or the Dance of the Flyers — a Cirque du Soleil-like performance in which four men swing upside down from a 100-foot-tall pole on long ropes while a fifth person stands on top playing a flute. Just to add to the fun, several hundred equestrians trot in front of the Parroquia to receive a blessing for their horses.
Before the last firecracker fizzles out, locals begin prepping for Day of the Dead in early November, which honors their deceased ancestors. In winter, festivities pick up during Christmas and New Year, and in spring, fireworks mark Holy Week, when the city observes Easter. Finally, summer brings a slew of film and music festivals.
“For two years, Travel + Leisure has named San Miguel de Allende its favorite city to visit,” said Daniela Leaman, deputy director of the Mexico Tourism Board. “It’s very rare that a city enjoys such a nomination in two consecutive years. We hope that more will choose to visit San Miguel and enjoy what it has to offer.”
The DetailsMexico Tourism Boardwww.visitmexico.com