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12 Cultural Celebrations in Mexico Not to Miss

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Looking for the best cultural celebrations in Mexico? Let me help! Living here has allowed me to experience some truly unique and lively Mexican festivals and celebrations that highlight this country’s rich cultural heritage and festive spirit.

From honoring loved ones on Día De Los Muertos to celebrating with local communities across various cities, these festivals are deep-rooted traditions that bring people together.

As we look towards the second half of 2024, there’s an exciting lineup of festivals that go beyond Día De Los Muertos. Each one showcases different aspects of Mexican culture, from art and literature to traditional music and dance.

Living here, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to join in on many of these Mexican celebrations and traditions, and am sharing them in this list of cultural celebrations in Mexico.

Whether you’re planning your first trip to Mexico or you’re looking to explore deeper, these festivals are perfect opportunities to see, hear, and taste what makes Mexico so special.

Cultural Celebrations in Mexico

1. Puerto Vallarta Pride: May 22-26

Living in Puerto Vallarta has given me the opportunity to witness firsthand the vibrant celebration of Puerto Vallarta Pride. Known for its inclusivity and active support for LGBTQ rights, Puerto Vallarta shines particularly bright during the last week of May. The heart of the festivities is in La Zona Romántica, the city’s lively gay district, where the energy and colors of Pride fill the streets.

One of the week’s highlights is the celebration at Mantamar Beach Club, located on the beautiful Los Muertos gay beach. The festivities here last all week and set the stage for the fabulous events around town.

My personal highlight is the annual parade. There’s something incredibly joyful about the parade atmosphere—it’s vibrant and utterly fun. It travels through the streets and concludes in the Romantic Zone with a block party that keeps everyone dancing to live DJs all night.

Having attended for the last three years, I’ve met countless amazing people, each experience reinforcing the sense of community and celebration. There’s a reason why Puerto Vallarta is named the beach gay capital of Mexico!

Pride in Puerto Vallarta is more than just a festival; it’s a powerful expression of unity and acceptance. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally, participating in Puerto Vallarta Pride is an unforgettable experience that epitomizes the welcoming spirit of this diverse community.

2. Carnaval de Veracruz: June 29 – July 5

Participants in vibrant, feathered costumes at a carnival parade, with focus on elaborate headpieces and colorful attire.

The Carnaval de Veracruz is a vibrant celebration that pulsates with the heartbeats of tradition, culture, and sheer joy. Bursting onto the streets of Veracruz with an explosion of colors, music, and exuberant dances, this annual extravaganza embodies the essence of the Mexican fiesta spirit. 

From the rhythmic beats of salsa and cumbia to the hypnotic sounds of mariachi bands echoing through the cobblestone streets, every corner of the city becomes a stage for revelry. Parades flood the boulevards, with majestic floats adorned with flowers and glittering ornaments, showcasing the rich Mexican folklore and mythology.

Families, friends, and strangers unite in a collective celebration of life, love, and community, savoring every moment of this spectacular ode to Mexican culture. 

3. The Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca: July

Mexican dancers in colorful skirts on a street in mexico city.

Another fantastic festival to consider including in your lineup is the Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca. Held annually in July, Guelaguetza is one of Mexico’s most vibrant and significant Mexican cultural events. The festival is a celebration of the diverse indigenous cultures of Oaxaca and their traditions.

During Guelaguetza, the city of Oaxaca becomes a hub of activity, with people from different ethnic groups within the state coming together to share their music, dance, crafts, and traditional Mexican foods.

The main event is a spectacular performance held at the outdoor amphitheater on the Fortín Hill, where dancers in traditional attire perform traditional dances native to their regions, each accompanied by live music.

The festival also features a vast market where artisans from across Oaxaca showcase their handicrafts, including textiles, pottery, and jewelry. It’s not only one of the best places to witness the rich cultural of Oaxaca but also an opportunity to learn about and participate in the preservation of these traditions.

Although I’ve visited Oaxaca City during a regular month rather than during Guelaguetza, the cultural vibrancy is palpable even then, with seemingly spontaneous parades and celebrations filling the streets.

It’s a place where culture pulses through the air, making Guelaguetza a festival I am eagerly looking forward to experiencing.

4. Mexico’s Independence Day: September 16th

mexican waving flags during a mexican independence day parade

Mexican Independence Day, celebrated on September 16th, is a vibrant national holiday marked by festivities that honor Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule. The celebrations begin on the night of September 15th with the iconic “Grito de Dolores,” a reenactment of the historic call to arms by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810, which sparked the Mexican War of Independence.

In Puerto Vallarta, as in the rest of Mexico, this day is filled with patriotic displays, including parades with Mexican flags, fireworks, music, and dancing. The streets buzz with excitement and national pride as locals and visitors alike partake in the celebrations. Traditional food stalls set up throughout the city offer a taste of Mexican cuisine, adding to the festive atmosphere.

The highlight in many towns and cities is the reenactment of Hidalgo’s cry for independence, known as “El Grito.” Leaders and officials step out onto public balconies to shout the names of the Mexican heroes followed by “¡Viva México!” repeated three times, each shout louder than the last, drawing cheers from the crowds.

This event not only commemorates the bravery of those who fought for Mexico’s independence but also unites the community in a shared sense of history and national identity.

5. Festival Internacional Cervantino: October 11-27

An aerial view of the city of guadalajara, mexico.

The Festival Internacional Cervantino, spanning from October 11th to the 27th, is a cultural extravaganza that transforms the historic city of Guanajuato into a vibrant hub of artistic expression and creativity. 

Named in honor of Miguel de Cervantes, the renowned author of “Don Quixote,” this festival celebrates the richness and diversity of global arts and culture. From the cobbled streets of Guanajuato’s colonial center to its majestic theaters and plazas, the city becomes a stage for a dazzling array of performances, exhibitions, and workshops. 

The festival’s eclectic program encompasses a wide range of genres, from opera and ballet to jazz, folk, and experimental art forms. Beyond the performances, the Festival Internacional Cervantino also fosters dialogue and cultural exchange through seminars, conferences, and educational activities, inviting audiences to delve deeper. 

Having visited Guanajuato, walking through its colorful streets is truly enjoyable, and the festival brings a unique energy that’s engaging and fun. It’s an excellent place to immerse yourself in the arts while enjoying the beauty and hospitality of the city.

6. Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia: October 18-27

Aerial view of a large cathedral with twin spires and surrounding cityscape under overcast skies.

The Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia is a cinematic celebration that illuminates the historic streets of Morelia, Mexico, with the magic of storytelling through film. As one of the most prestigious film festivals in Latin America, it attracts filmmakers, industry professionals, and cinephiles from around the world. 

Expect everything from thought-provoking dramas to boundary-pushing avant-garde pieces as the festival presents a platform for filmmakers to explore pressing social issues, celebrate cultural diversity, and push the boundaries of cinematic artistry. In addition to screenings, the festival hosts a variety of events, including Q&A sessions with directors, panel discussions, masterclasses, and networking opportunities. 

Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, is known for its narrow colonial streets and beautiful 17th- and 18th-century buildings made from the region’s distinctive pink stone.

7. Día De Los Muertos: November 1- November 2

A vibrant day of the dead parade with participants in skeleton costumes and makeup, featuring a large puppet of a smiling skull adorned with flowers.

Step into the colorful world of Mexican culture and tradition during Día De Los Muertos, a vibrant celebration honoring departed loved ones. From November 1st to November 2nd (and the week leading up to it), the entire country blooms into a vivid spectacle of color and life.

Streets and homes are beautifully adorned with marigolds, papel picado, and the inviting scent of pan de muerto (bread of the dead) fills the air.

The best way to Immerse yourself in the captivating rituals of Día De Los Muertos is by visiting destinations such as Oaxaca City, where elaborate altars and processions pay homage to ancestors with music, dance, and offerings of favorite foods and beverages. 

Mexico City offers another captivating experience with its historic neighborhoods bustling with activities. The local markets brim with festive goods and the cemetery vigils are a solemn reminder of the holiday’s deep cultural significance. Each element of the celebration invites participants to reflect on life, love, and remembrance in truly meaningful ways.

Last year, I had the chance to experience Día De Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta. While it may not be as famous as Oaxaca or Mexico City for the celebration, the experience was incredibly special. The giant Catrina figures were a sight to behold!

I’m eagerly looking forward to experiencing Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca City and Mexico City soon.

8. International Hot Air Balloon Festival: November 15-18

Woman smiling and looking up at numerous colorful hot air balloons in a clear blue sky during a balloon festival.

Every November, the skies over León, Mexico, host the International Hot Air Balloon Festival, an event that captures the imagination with its array of vibrant hot air balloons. From November 15th to 18th, you can see a variety of balloons, from traditional designs to ones shaped like animals, cartoon characters, and mythical creatures.

The festival offers much more than just balloon flights. Visitors can enjoy live music, taste a variety of local and international dishes, and participate in family-friendly activities, making sure there’s something for everyone. In 2023, I went with a group of friends and it was a fantastic experience, though we saw plenty of family members there together.

Getting up early for the launch was well worth it for the stunning view of colorful balloons. Afterward, we rested up for the evening’s music festival, which was even more fun! The tickets are priced affordably for a day of fun, and the city of Leon is enjoyable to explore.

9. Guadalajara International Book Fair: November 30 – December 6

a cathedral in the central square of mexico city. the sunset is casting a beautiful glow on it.

The Guadalajara International Book Fair, held from November 30th to December 6th, is a literary event that converges on the vibrant city of Guadalajara, Mexico. Renowned as the largest and most important book fair in the Spanish-speaking world, this cultural celebration attracts authors, publishers, scholars, and book lovers from across the globe. 

From best-selling novels to academic treatises, children’s literature to graphic novels, the fair caters to readers of all ages and interests.

In addition to the exhibition halls, the fair hosts a diverse program of cultural events, including panel discussions, workshops, film screenings, and live performances, enriching the literary experience with a tapestry of artistic expression. 

10. Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 1-12th

The Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe holds a special place in the hearts of Puerto Vallarta’s residents. Centered around the city’s main church, which is named after Mexico’s most iconic religious image, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, this festival is a significant event each December.

The festivities begin early in December with nightly processions that make their way through the Old Town. These processions are vibrant and colorful, featuring folkloric dancers, musicians, elaborate parade floats, and exciting pyrotechnics. Schools, neighborhoods, businesses, and civic associations all participate, bringing the community together in a spectacular display of local spirit and tradition.

The celebrations peak on December 12th with a lively street party that extends well into the night. Celebrating Christmas in Puerto Vallarta during this festival is an incredible experience, allowing visitors and locals alike to engage with the community in a truly meaningful way.

I’ve joined the festivities several times with friends, and it’s always a highlight—great company, amazing food, and a festive atmosphere that’s hard to beat. It offers a vivid glimpse into Mexican religious and cultural practices that are captivating regardless of one’s personal beliefs.

11. Christmas Celebrations: December-January

There are so many Christmas traditions in Mexico.

One of the key highlights in the Christmas season is Las Posadas, a tradition celebrated in Mexico and Hispanic communities in the United States that takes place from December 16th to the 24th. This nine-day event reenacts Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay.

Each night, a different household hosts the celebration, where guests sing traditional songs and ask for shelter, replicating the holy couple’s plea. The evening culminates in a joyful gathering with prayers, piñatas, and festive foods.

Christmas Eve, or “Nochebuena,” is when Mexican families gather for a festive meal and attend midnight Mass to welcome Christmas Day. The streets are lively and the air is filled with the spirit of celebration as locals and tourists alike participate in the festivities.

The New Year also brings its own celebrations, with fireworks lighting up the night sky and parties along the beach that go on until the early hours.

Another highlight of the Christmas season is the arrival of La Losca de Reyes, or the Three Kings, on January 6th (Día de los Reyes Magos). This tradition celebrates the biblical story of the Three Kings who followed the star to Bethlehem to present gifts to Baby Jesus. In Mexico, the children look forward to receiving gifts from the Reyes Magos, much like they anticipate Santa Claus in other parts of the world.

From my own experiences, celebrating Christmas in Puerto Vallarta has always been memorable. The city embraces the holiday spirit with open arms, offering a blend of traditional Mexican customs and unique local celebrations.

12. Semana Santa: April 13th-19th

 Photo of folklore dancers dancing in a beautiful traditional dress representing mexican culture.

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of the busiest times in Puerto Vallarta as thousands of visitors flock to this beach destination to join in the festivities. During this week, the city vibrates with energy as both locals and tourists gather to celebrate, making it a prime time for parties and lively social gatherings.

Aside from the festive atmosphere at the beach and streets, Puerto Vallarta also honors this holy period with traditional religious processions that showcase the city’s deep cultural and spiritual roots. These processions, often centered around the local churches, provide a profound glimpse into the religious practices and community spirit of the area.

While Puerto Vallarta offers a more festive take on Semana Santa, other parts of Mexico provide a more subdued and culturally rich experience. Across the country, Semana Santa is observed with various Mexican traditions and ceremonies, each reflecting the local customs and historical influences, making it a fascinating time to explore different aspects of Mexican culture.

FAQ: Mexico Holidays and Celebrations

What are some traditional Mexican festivals?

Traditional Mexican festivals include Día de los Muertos, the Guelaguetza, and the Festival Internacional Cervantino.

What are some cultural days in Mexico?

Important cultural days in Mexico include Constitution Day on February 5th, Flag Day on February 24th, and Mexican Independence Day on September 16th.

What are the festival holidays in Mexico?

Festival holidays in Mexico include Día de los Muertos, Semana Santa, and Christmas.

What is the main festival of Mexico?

The main festival of Mexico is Día de los Muertos, a vibrant celebration honoring deceased loved ones.

What is the biggest festival in Mexico?

The biggest festival in Mexico is the Guelaguetza, which showcases the rich cultural diversity of Oaxaca.

How many festivals are there in Mexico?

Mexico hosts hundreds of festivals throughout the year, each celebrating different aspects of its rich culture and traditions.

What is the Mexican Death Festival?

The Mexican Death Festival, known as Día de los Muertos, is an annual event where families honor their deceased loved ones with vibrant altars and celebrations.

What are the 3 deaths in Mexican tradition?

In Mexican tradition, the 3 deaths are when a person dies, when the body encounters the earth, and when there is no one left to remember them.

Final thoughts: Cultural Celebrations in Mexico

from the vibrant streets of Oaxaca to the colorful skies of León, visiting during these famous Mexican festivals offers an amazing opportunity to immerse in the rich traditional Mexican culture.

Each of these cultural festivals in Mexico not only takes place in amazing locations but also embodies the spirit of the community and the historical richness of the most important Mexican holidays and festivals.

Whether you’re watching the parade in Oaxaca, experiencing the beauty of Semana Santa, or joining the jubilant cries of “¡Viva México!” during the Independence Day celebrations, these events invite you to dive deep into the heart of Mexican culture.

Mexican holidays, celebrated with such zest and color, provide unique insights into the nation’s heritage and traditions. So, make sure to mark your calendar for these important celebrations in Mexico – each one a doorway to understanding and celebrating the rich diversity of this incredible country I’m so grateful to call home.


  • Lora Pope

    Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.

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