Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2006 issue.
Mexicans need little excuse to plan a party. A first communion, a son’s or a daughter’s fifteenth birthday or the anniversary of a significant historical event are but a few of many reasons to celebrate. But trying to time one’s vacation to coincide with a designated commemorative event in order to experience the festivities is unnecessary. Visitors and locals alike can participate in an authentic Mexican fiesta simply by phoning one of the venues that offers an evening of good food and clean fun suited for most all ages.
Commercially offered Mexican fiestas are designed to accommodate between 200 and 500 guests. Generally, the events run for three or four hours in the evening. Buffet items, alcoholic drink options, activities, presentation styles and entertainment vary from one venue to the next. Prices are all-inclusive and range from approximately $520 pesos to $650 pesos, usually with special rates for children. The entertainment is live and culturally representative.
Over the past 40 years, the nH Krystal Entertainment Center (224-0202) in the Hotel Zone has played host to a weekly fiesta every Tuesday. The evening includes a variety of traditional acts performed by vibrantly costumed regional dance troupes, charros in full dress demonstrating their horse-roping expertise, award-winning Mariachis playing lively national favorites, and marimba musicians. Spectators are invited to participate in various contests and compete for prizes, while enjoying a variety of libations from an international open bar. Children delight in breaking open a colorful pinata, filled with treats that are theirs for the taking. Central to the joy of the fiesta is the array of Mexican dishes served buffet style — including fish, pork, chicken, beef, tortillas, quesadillas, sopes, tamales, beans, rice, salad, guacamole, salsa, chiles, desserts and, for the kids (and young at heart), cotton candy and candied apples. The festivities end with a spectacular fireworks display (electrical indoors and combustible outdoors, which guests can view through the windows without moving from their tables).
The Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center (226-0404), also in the Hotel Zone, offers a Thursday evening fiesta for hotel guests and the public, staged in an open courtyard and designed to resemble a typical Mexican fair, complete with games of chance, such as the lottery, and vendors selling traditional crafts such as beads, masks and silver, among others. A traditional buffet and domestic drinks are included in the price. The show features preHispanic, regional and folkloric dance numbers, a Mexican singer, mariachis, a rope player and a cockfight, culminating in a raffle and fireworks.
Every Thursday and Sunday evening, La Iguana (222-0105) in the South Side also hosts authentic Mexican fiestas, which afford guests the opportunity to dance to live music before and after the buffet and show.
One may also experience the traditional fiesta entertainment and buffet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at a working ranch located in Las Palmas (Rancho Palmareal, 222-0501), about an hour from Vallarta. Transportation is included.
Various hotels in Vallarta also offer Mexican celebrations, which typically are a much-abbreviated version of the true Mexican fiesta.