In Mexico, September is el Mes de la Patria (month of the homeland), and sometimes it seems as though the whole country is painted in the colors of the Mexican flag, with decorations adorning nearly every home and public building and stalls selling patriotic items on almost every street corner. Colorful and patriotic festivities celebrating the events that led up to Mexico’s Independence from Spain are held throughout the country, culminating on September 15 and 16. But there are other festivals and events taking place this month. Here are some of the most noteworthy festivities held in Mexico in September.
The town of Tepoztlan, in the state of Morelos not far from Mexico City, celebrates the fusion of indigenous and Spanish colonial culture with this yearly celebration. Reto al Tepozteco is a performance depicting King Tepoztecatl’s conversion to the Catholic religion. Processions lead toward the mountain-top Tepozteco Pyramid, where people offer food and beverages. The crowd returns to the village for more celebrations including hypnotic traditional chinelo folk dances, fireworks, and a food festival. The event is held every year on September 7 and 8.
Guadalajara‘s most important cultural event of the year, the Mariachi Festival, captures the essence of the city and both its traditional and innovative mariachi culture. Musicians come from around the world to listen, audition, and compete. Performances take place on the streets and in various venues throughout the city during the last couple of weeks of August and the first days of September.
The UNESCO-recognized colonial city of Zacatecas celebrates its national fair for three weeks every September. The Feria Nacional Zacatecas festival includes musical performances by big-name performers, mechanical rides and other entertainment for children, livestock exhibits, theater performances, and other cultural and sporting events. Of course, there is a plentiful assortment of regional cuisine to sample.
Crowds gather in town squares across Mexico on September 15 at 11 p.m. for the Grito de la Independencia, which commemorates Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s call for independence of September 1810, encouraging the Mexican people to rise up against the Spanish colonial forces. The mayor shouts a replica of Hidalgo’s cry, and the crowd cheers “Viva Mexico!” Fireworks and general merriment ensued. On the following day, September 16, there are civic ceremonies and parades.
The border town and capital of Baja California state, Mexicali, celebrates its founding every year with the Fiesta del Sol. Concerts, parades, and mechanical rides are all part of the festivities. The concert line-up always includes big names in the Mexican music industry: in past years there have been performances by Molotov, Banda el Recodo, Yuri, and Belinda.
This is an annual festival in honor of the San Miguel de Allende’s patron, Saint Michael Archangel. The official feast day on the church calendar is September 29, but the fiesta is held on the nearest weekend. The festivities are sometimes referred to as La Alborada, or just the Fiesta de San Miguel. The event involves parades, dances, concerts, and fireworks. Previously an important part of this festival was a running with the bulls similar to the yearly event in Pamplona, Spain, but this was discontinued in 2007.
This annual festival in Rosarito Beach, Baja California includes student musical workshops as well as shows and competitions. All events are held at the iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel and proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito. The festival ends with the Extravaganza Concert on October 6, 2018, which features performances by prominent mariachi groups such as Mariachi Nueva Tecalitlan, Mariachi Divas and more.
Tijuana celebrates it’s fair starting the last week of August and running through until mid-September. This is the most popular family event in the city and presents an impressive artistic billboard year after year in both the Palenque and the Teatro del Pueblo. There are also mechanical games, an exhibitors area, a children’s area with shows, rides and games, and a gastronomic area where you can sample local fairground foods and more.
Where to Celebrate “El Grito”
The Grito de Dolores is the call that Miguel Hidalgo made for the people of Mexico to rise up against the authorities of New Spain on September 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores, near Guanajuato, initiating Mexico’s War of Independence. This event is commemorated every year in Mexico on the night of September 15th. People gather in the Zocalos, town squares and plazas to participate in the patriotic fervor.
The words of the Grito may vary, but they go something like this:
¡Vivan los heroes que nos dieron patria! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Morelos! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Allende! ¡Viva!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros! ¡Viva!
¡Viva nuestra independencia! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!
At the end of the third ¡Viva Mexico! the crowd goes wild waving flags, ringing noisemakers and spraying foam. Then fireworks light up the sky as the crowd cheers. Later the Mexican national anthem is sung.
Where to Celebrate “El Grito”
If you are spending Mexican Independence Day in Mexico, and you enjoy being part of a large crowd, then you should make your way to the town plaza of whatever city you happen to be in by around 10 pm (or earlier to get a good spot) on September 15th to participate in el grito. The best destinations are:
- Mexico City
In Mexico City‘s main square, the Zocalo, the Mexican president initiates the grito from the balcony of the Palacio Nacional as hundreds of thousands of onlookers cheer. The grito is followed by singing the National Anthem, and fireworks.
- Dolores Hidalgo
This small town in Guanajuato state is known as the Cradle of Mexican Independence. Here you can celebrate the anniversary of Hidalgo’s cry for independence in the town where it originated. On the morning of the 16th of September there is a civic parade, and other festivities to commemorate the occasion.
This UNESCO World Heritage city is the birthplace of the heroine of Mexico’s independence movement, Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, often referred to as La Corregidora, who got the word out to Hidalgo that the royal forces were on to the insurgents’ plans, prompting him to initiate the war (earlier than originally planned). The town celebrates in a grand manner, with fireworks and a festive atmosphere.
- San Miguel de Allende
The birthplace of Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the Mexican independence movement, San Miguel de Allende is a lovely colonial city which is very popular with expats. Celebrations here are exuberant, and since the town’s Fiesta de San Migueltakes place around the same dates, there’s plenty to see and do.
There are alternative ways to celebrate Mexico’s independence, however. Many restaurants, hotels and nightclubs offer special Noche Mexicana celebrations, among other events taking place that night. It’s a fun night for partying out on the town.