MEXICO CITY -- Mexico may be popular for its beaches, but for
visitors who appreciate culture and local celebrations, the country
offers a wealth of travel opportunities.
The following is a rundown of some of Mexico's more popular
festivals through the end of the winter season. Unless otherwise
noted, the festivals take place nationwide.
JanuaryJan. 15 to 23, Feast of St. Sebastian the Martyr (Fiesta de San
Sebastian Martir), Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas.
The third week in January in Chiapa de Corzo features an
elaborate show of folklore festivals, regional costumes, wigs and
masks and a reenactment of a naval battle on the river Grijalva.
These ceremonies last three days and conclude with a fireworks
As for local food specialties, travelers shouldn't miss
butifarra, the dried sausage originating in Chiapas; the famous
tamales de chipil made from an aromatic Mexican herb, and the sweet
potato candy known as suspiros.
FebruaryFeb. 2, Candlemas (Fiesta de la Calendaria).
Tiny dolls representing the Christ child are blessed at churches
and social gatherings throughout Mexico.
The most famous celebration, which includes a colorful
procession, takes place in Xochimilco in Mexico City.Feb. 14, Valentine's Day (Dia del Amor y la Amistad).
This is a day for lovers to celebrate their affection for each
other with gifts of chocolate. The history of chocolate begins in
Mexico with the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the god of light, who
descended upon the Toltecs of Mexico and gave them the mystical
In 1519, a Mexican Aztec ruler served Spanish explorer Hernan
Cortes xocoatl, a chocolate drink derived from the cocoa bean.
Cortes brought the cocoa bean to Spain, and soon afterwards,
chocolate became a fashionable food throughout Europe and the
MarchMarch 5, Carnaval.
Officially celebrated the five days before Lent, Carnaval's
lively celebrations of parades, floats and dances mark the last
opportunity for Catholics to indulge in temporal pleasures before
the 40 days of fasting during Lent.
Participants wear masks and dance in the streets of port towns
such as Ensenada, La Paz, Veracruz, Mazatlan, Merida and Cozumel.
It is common for musicians from Cuba and Belize to perform in
Cozumel.March 17, Feast of St. Joseph (Dia de San Jose).
This festival is celebrated throughout Mexico with music,
processions, dances, fireworks and fairs.March 21, spring equinox (a national holiday), Chichen
Thousands gather at Chichen Itza on the Yucatan peninsula for
the spring equinox. Visitors come to see the afternoon shadow of
the snake-god Kukulcan slowly descend upon the country's biggest
Mayan pyramid, known as El Castillo. While waiting, visitors are
entertained by traditional dances and celebrations.March 23 to April 13, Historic Center Festival, Mexico
This three-week cultural celebration features concerts, theater,
art exhibits, seminars, dance, food and activities for
It is held in Mexico City's Historic Center. Monuments such as
El Templo Mayor, the Zocalo, Santo Domingo, Plaza Tolsa and Alameda
Park serve as the backdrop for these celebrations.
AprilApril 8 to 15, Easter Week (Semana Santa), San Juan Chamula in
Chiapas, San Luis Potosi in San Luis Potosi, Taxco in Guerrero,
Zacatecas in Zacatecas and Iztapalapa in Mexico City.
These cities are famous for their religious processions, some of
which include reenactments of the Stations of the Cross.April 9 to 16, Fair of the Most Beautiful Flower of the Ejido
(Feria de la Flor Mas Bella del Ejido), Xochimilco, Mexico
This fair includes a beauty contest; culinary events;
agriculture; cattle and handicrafts exhibitions, and a contest for
the best decorated trajinera (gondola-type boats that travel the
For further information, call (800) 44-MEXICO.