Weekend Trips to Mexico
Living in Mexico City, the options for a fun and exciting ‘weekend getaway trip’ are endless. Pick any direction and after a short two-hour (or less) drive you can find yourself in the states of Queretaro, Mexico, Morelos, Puebla, Hidalgo, Michoacán or Tlaxcala. Within this radius there are plenty of unique towns to discover and explore with a wide arrangement of different customs, gastronomy, and traditions due to different pre-Hispanic and Spanish colonial influences. With nearby access to at least 15 Magical Towns (Pueblos Magicos) and crossing at least 11 of Mexico’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mexico City is a well known and accessible starting point in which one can venture out and discover the country’s rich culture and charms.
While any time of the year is a wonderful time to visit the neighboring cities and towns, you often can get a better immersion experience during their festivals. These celebrations occur at different times throughout the year and present the perfect forum for truly witnessing the beauty and culture of the area.
Queretaro -The quaint Magical Town of Bernal holds a festival May 1-5 to honor the Holy Cross. The traditional religious celebration of The Feast of Santa Cruz includes escaleros (climbers) that make a procession through the town then up the impressive 1,150 ft tall peña or monolith to plant a cross at the top. All of this is achieved without any harnesses!
- Caderyeta de Montes, just 20 minutes away from Bernal, is the nearby Magical Town which holds two famed events held by Spanish Winemaker, Freixnet. In the month of August, La Fiesta de la Vendimia (Wine Harvest Festival) takes place, where Cavas Freixenet opens their doors to the public to enjoy and partake in traditional rituals, such as the cutting and stomping of the grapes. May 26 and 27 is when Freixnet holds an annual Paella Festival where you can sample different tasty versions of this popular Spanish seafood and rice dish!
-The town of Tolimán, just north of Caderyeta de Montes and Bernal, is where you can find one of Mexico’s unique UNESCO Intangible Culture Heritages: the traditions and memories of the Otomí-Chichimeca people. Starting in July and culminating in September, El Chimal takes place and is the most significant festival to this culture and its people. It is a celebration of spiritual rituals and elaborate offerings, with a decorated vertical tribute of small objects and flowers towering over 75 feet!
Puebla -Zacatlán was named Puebla’s second Magical Town after Cuetzalan and is known for growing apples and utilizing them in delicious ciders and alcohols. Every year, La Feria de la Manzana (Apple Festival) is held in August. The festival is celebrated with shows, regional dances, a parade, and plenty of music and dancing. The festival always falls over August 15, the day of La Virgen de la Asunción, patron saint to the fruit farmers, in order to give her thanks and praise for the fruit that gives this town it’s signature.
-La Fiesta Patronal del Señor Santiago is a special celebration on July 25 for the Magical Town of Pahuatlán. The people come and celebrate their patron saint with typical Mexican fiesta traditions and a spectacle of the Voladores de Pahuatlán. In Pahuatlán, the voladores (flying men) are also known as Tocotines and is part of UNESCO’s Intangible Culture Heritages: the ritual ceremony of the voladores.
-While there are plenty of other distinct and unique fairs and festivals throught the state of Puebla, the regional Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos, is especially extraordinary in the Poblano city of Huaquechula. From October 28 to November 2, extravagantly decorated altars and ofrendas paint and scent the town as the people pay their respects to the dead.
Tlaxcala - A festival not to be missed during the month of August is La Feria de Huamantla. In the small Magical Town of Huamantla, approximately 300,000 visitors come to view the spectacles dedicated to the Virgin Mary. One night in particular, La Noche que Nadie Duerme, is when the residents create intricately designed tapetes (carpets) made of colorful sawdust and plants which line the streets until dawn. The Huamantla Fair culminates with ‘Huamantlada’ a day when the streets are saturated with people, barricades, and a releasing of the bulls. While the brave ones can challenge the running toros, one can also mitigate the danger by partaking in the other events like charreadas and watching a bull fight.
-Real del Monte, Mineral del Chico, and Huasca de Ocampo are Hidalgos three Magical Towns and are all located driving distance from one another. December through January is a great time to visit these Pueblos Mágicos. Starting December 8, Mineral del Chico holds La Fiesta de la Purísima Concepción. Considered the most important festival of the year to them, it is a time of recognition to the town’s patron saint. A few days later, December 11- 13, there are festivities honoring the Virgin Mary in Huasca de Ocampo, with typical carnival rides and stalls. To close out the calendar, December 31 is when the locals really party! Real del Monte, organizes an enormous fiesta in the main square, with a large celebration of fireworks and traditional dances to ring in the New Year. The party also reigns in their January Fiesta del Dulce (Sweets Festival) which honors el Señor de Zelontla, patron saint to the past miners of Real del Monte. The month long festival includes a parade, religious processions, artists, and other attractions that transform the town into a kaleidoscope of colors and movement. Throughout January, you can also find celebrations in Huasca de Ocampo, including the Three Kings celebrations (3-8) and Feast of San Sebastian (20) commemorated with rodeos, cockfights, and other joyous Mexican traditions and fun.
If you plan on visiting one of these towns during a holiday or festival, be sure to make arrangements for accommodations well ahead of time. For tips on how to find accommodations (as many do not have comprehensive websites), check out the post “Planning A Trip To Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns)”.