Mexico City events are an unforgettable experience, but they also draw crowds, so when planning your trip to the capital of Mexico, it may often be wise to account for national holidays and other events. The opportunity to attend a festival in Mexico City can be very rewarding, as it gives you a glimpse into the local culture and, in many cases, national pride. However, if avoiding crowds is your goal, you may want to steer clear of some of the most popular events throughout the year. For the arts and culture-lovers, participating in a Mexico City music festival or other artistic event can put you right in the center of modern Mexican culture.
One of the best events in Mexico City is the annual celebration of Independence Day. Crowds will gather at the Zocalo, also known as the Plaza de la Constitucion, to hear the president give the annual Independence Day Yell on the evening of September 15. The president appears on the balcony of the National Palace and cries out the words to the "Grito de Dolores," a call given in 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo y Castilla to rouse the Mexican people to rebel against the Spanish. The people gathered in the square below respond with a resounding, "Viva!" and this initiates the celebrations of Independence Day. A three-hour Independence Day Parade, on September 16, crowns the festivities. It starts at the Zocalo and you can see Mexico's armed forces marching in ceremonial costume for this important festival in Mexico City.
One of the best Mexico City events is the Festival Centro Historico. This annual festival, which has been running for more than twenty years, is one of the largest and best arts and culture festivals in Latin America. It has virtually revitalized the historic old city area of Mexico City, and during the Festival in March or April (depending on the year), famous bands, musicians, artists and writers flood the city center, drawing crowds to famous venues such as the Postal Palace, the Belle Arts Museum, and many other buildings in the Centro Historico. It is an important Mexico City music festival, as many famous bands arrive in the city, and musicians give master classes and seminars. Unlike similar festivals in other countries, many events at the Festival Centro Historico are free thanks to the festival's many sponsors.
If you are looking for another Mexico City music festival, the Mexico City Jazz Festival in May is still in its formative years, but it is quickly becoming more and more popular as famous jazz artists flock to the city.
The Day of the Dead Festival is one of the most memorable Mexico City events. Similar to Halloween, the Day of the Dead celebrations take place on November 1 and 2 and consist of a unique combination of traditional indigenous beliefs and Spanish Catholic traditions. Before the Spanish arrived, people in Mexico celebrated the Day of the Dead by leaving gifts or offerings to deceased family members. The Spanish somewhat Christianized this holiday by putting it on the same date as All Saints' Day, a Catholic holiday to celebrate loved ones. Every year, a huge Day of the Dead parade shuts down the main streets in Mexico City, and you can see extensive flowers and decorations all over the city in the shape of skulls. Cakes and sweets, also shaped like skulls and skeletons, are often given to children to celebrate the festival. The Day of the Dead Festival takes place during a busy season of the year in Mexico City, so you may find hotels and flights a little more expensive, but experiencing this unique event is well worth the extra price.
Another exciting festival in Mexico City in the spring is the Xochimilco Festival that takes place two weeks before Easter. Xochimilco is located about six miles from Mexico City and is a vibrant agricultural hub with canals and extensive gardens. The Xochimilco Festival celebrates the Aztec goddess of flowers and culminates in the crowning of the beautiful girl known as the "most beautiful flower of Ejido." Boats sail along the canals with song, dance, and many other festivities.