Sean and Mittie | Mexico City Exposition with Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies 1

Best Events to Catch in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, with its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and 300 yearly festivals, certainly warrants a visit. But with so many excuses to go, how do you determine the optimal time? The following three festivals inspire and excite the senses without being overrun by tourists.

1.    Dia de Los Locos (Day of the Crazies)

Dia de los Locos falls in June, on the first Sunday after the feast of St. Anthony. Due to its complete disregard of traditional social interaction, bizarre things happen in this otherwise extremely conservative state of Mexico. People disguise themselves in a massive street parade, giving them liberty to be anything that they aren’t in their daily lives. For Mexican men, immersed in a world of machismo and tightly defined societal roles, it’s an opportunity to break free.

For the traveler, unique doesn’t quite define the experience. Whether watching from a rooftop or jumping in the parade of almost exclusively locals, the energy of Los Locos is infectious. This festival only takes place in San Miguel de Allende and isn’t widely known, making it the perfect opportunity for an unadulterated glimpse into central Mexican culture.

2.    La Alborada

The enormous party known as the Alborada celebrates the Archangel St. Michael for whom the town is named. Somewhere around four a.m., each neighborhood in San Miguel starts up its own street party with mariachis and tequila bearing donkeys. Ultimately, the party culminates downtown where barrios unite in an awe-inspiring display of fireworks. This continues until eleven a.m. at which point a whole new host of activities begins, including the “burning” of Paper Mache Judas’ and Voladores (pole flyers) commit amazing feats of acrobatics atop a 30 meter pole.  In the evening, the events continue, including parades, Mojigangas (walking 9 foot Paper-Mache dolls), offerings and more.

Sean Reagan Photography Sean Reagan Photography

This event, like Dia de los Locos, is specific to San Miguel and not a big draw for outside tourism. That makes it a great choice for an introspective glance into Mexican culture and its celebration.  It occurs at the end of September (weekend of the 29th) or beginning of October (if that date falls on a weekday), when the weather is spectacular.

3.    Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Dia de los Muertos is an extremely important national holiday that has earned itself international fame with the stunning displays of Catrinas (the lady of death) and ofrendas (offering for the ancestors).  While the most talked about locations to experience the festivities are Michoacan and Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende has a unique approach, and with fewer tourists.

San Miguel de Allende hosts an interesting mix of the traditional rituals, parades and offerings mixed with a new, edgy and fun artistic festival, La Calaca (in its third year), which brings in an eclectic grouping of artists, musicians and diverse events and performers. It’s four days of non-stop art, culture and socializing.

Of course, it isn’t always a good time to visit …

Semana Santa, Easter week, tends to be extremely crowded.

April and especially May can be hot, dusty and extremely dry. Many businesses close during this time and get out of town. Once the rainy season begins in June, the dust settles and green returns to our semi-desertic landscape.

 Have you visited San Miguel? Would you like to? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

1 Comment
  • Steve
    Posted at 00:20h, 04 December Reply

    Great post, guys, and amazing photos Sean. Can’t wait to get ‘home’ and experience these events properly, whether it be in 18 months or two years. Hope you guys are still around.

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