Fiestas and Festivals
Published Oct 6, 2005 - (Updated Jun 20, 2012)
Every day is a día de fiesta in Mexico! Here is a list of official Mexican holidays and important local festivals you may want to keep in mind as you plan ahead for your paradise vacation.
(Please visit our Upcoming Events page to learn about other important events that may be taking place during your visit!)
1 - New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo): National holiday, banks and public government offices closed. This is the most laid-back holiday, people taking it easy after the night before, perhaps walking on the Malecon or going to the beach.
6 - Day of the Kings (Día de Reyes): The traditional gift-giving day when children receive toys and gifts in honor of the Three King’ visit to baby Jesus. Some restaurants, hotels and The International Friendship Club, one of Puerto Vallarta’s largest charities, annually visits local hospitals and rural communities bringing truckloads of toys to local children.
5 - Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución Mexicana): National holiday and parade, banks and public government offices closed. This day recognizes the implementation of the national Constitution into law.
14 - Friendship Day (Día de la Amistad): In Mexico, not just love, but friendship as well, is celebrated on February 14. Special menus in fine restaurants and live music in nightclubs.
24 - Mexican Flag Day (Día de la Bandera): Mexican celebration when the military, citizens and officials parade with the green, white and red to show their patriotism.
23 - Carnaval Day: Party with masks, kids parade in the streets.
24 - Ash Wednesday (Miércoles de Ceniza). This Wednesday is recognized by Protestants and Roman Catholics everywhere. Here the devout go to church and get their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.
21 - Benito Juarez Day (Natalicio de Benito Juárez): A national holiday honoring the renowned former president who is known as “The Lincoln of Mexico.” Also the First Day of Spring and the beginning of the spring break season.
5 - 12 Semana Santa: Puerto Vallarta is at its peak during this pre-Easter holy week, a time of national vacations and “spring break” from school.
1 - Labor Day (Día del Trabajo): National holiday, banks and public government offices closed. Labor day has unions parading in the streets.
5 - Puebla Battle Day (Día de la Batalla de Puebla): in 1862, national holiday, Banks and public government offices remain closed. Commemorating the defeat of the French at Puebla in 1862, is a big deal in parts of the USA, but not here. In fact, since 2001 it is no longer a national holiday, merely a banking one.
10 - Mother’s Day (Día de las Madres): National holiday. Mother’s Day is a huge deal, families gathering around the Queen for a Day to sing Las Mañanitas at midnight the night before. No problem that the kids are up late, because school’s out the next day.
31 - In 1918, Puerto Vallarta became a municipality and in 1968 it was officially promoted from town to city. Today the city commemorates both celebrations with outdoor art and culture festivals.
1 - Navy Day (Día de la Marina): brings a colorful, morning parade of all the navy ships in port, followed by tour boats and fishing boats flying their nautical flags.
Fiestas Patrias: Mexico’s independence is celebrated throughout the month of September.
1 - President’s State of the Nation Address (Informe Presidencial) The president of Mexico delivers a hard copy of his State of the Nation Address to the Mexican Congress.
13 - Niños Heroes de Chapultepec - This day honors six teenage military cadets who died defending Mexico City’s Chapultapec Castle from invading US forces, on September 13, 1847.
14 - Charro Day (Día del Charro): Mexican horsemen/women parade through town wearing beautifully decorated jackets, pants and sombreros on finely brushed horses decked with their best equipment. Festivities continue throughout the day and evening at various charro rings, including bullfights, calf roping, food and dancing.
15 - Independence Eve: On this night, the central plaza is filled with revelers participating in the traditional “grito”, or cry for independence. Led by the mayor from the balcony in City Hall, it is preceded by the lighting of the flame of independence and a parade through the center of town. At 11:00 p.m., the cry “Viva Mexico” is made, followed by an impressive fireworks display. Food stands, music and folkloric dance performances are also part of the festivities.
16 - Independence Day (Día de la Independencia): The festivities continue with more brilliant fireworks and a parade that winds through the center of town, national holiday, banks and public government offices closed. Independence Day marks Mexico’s liberation from the Spanish in 1810.
12 - Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) commemorates the discovery of America in 1492.
31- Halloween: In Mexico you’ll also find costume parties, treats and tricks. Local custom dictates that costumes be on the ghoulish side, and local discos offer cash prizes up into the thousand-dollar range. The real bewitching hour, however, comes a couple of days later.
1 - All Soul’s Day (Día de Todos los Santos): On this day, Mexicans pay homage to the souls of the children who have passed on. Tradition states that the departed descend from the heavens on this day, so family members prepare by leaving sugar skeletons, skulls and treats on altars custom-designed for the occasion. Each year City Hall offers a special altar exhibition, as does the Cultural Center on Rio Cuale Island. Restaurants, nightclubs and stores also create altars.
2 - Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos): Families hold a graveside vigil on this night, or at least leave their favorite food and drink (usually tequila) on a special altar constructed in their home or on the tomb of their departed ancestor. Bakeries are filled with sweets shaped in the symbols of death, and flowers and memorials fill the cemetery. Particularly popular are marigolds, the sacred Aztec flower that represents death.
20 - Mexican Revolution (Día de la Revolución Mexicana): Banks and public government offices closed. A parade through the center of town marks the anniversary celebration of the Revolution of 1910-1917.
1-12 “Guadalupe” Processions (Peregrinaciones): During these twelve days, processions to the downtown cathedral that bears the name of the patron saint of both Puerto Vallarta and of Mexico take place. Almost every business, hotel, restaurant, neighborhood and civic association makes a procession to the church for a special mass they have devoted to the Virgin. For the larger groups, these processions resemble a small parade, with folkloric dancers, floats, singing and even fireworks following their brief mass.
12 - Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe): This important religious and social holiday marks the day the Virgin Guadalupe made her miraculous appearance to a peasant in Mexico. The processions (see above) culminate on this day, when fireworks abound and the central plaza is filled with street vendors selling fruits and other local specialties.
12 - Anniversary of the founding of Puerto Vallarta (Aniversario de Puerto Vallarta): This date also marks Puerto Vallarta’s “birthday.” In 1851, don Guadalupe Sánchez Torres founded Puerto Vallarta, when he brought his family and a few friends to settle in an area alongside the Cuale River.
16-24 - Posadas: All over Mexico, families, businesses and neighborhoods celebrate the holidays with parties known as “posadas.” This tradition is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. Candlelit processions are formed to designated houses where the participants ask for lodging through a melodic song. The host will refuse several times before finally opening wide the door, signifying the start of the party. The main Christmas celebration is a traditional family dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by Midnight Mass.
25 - Christmas Day (Navidad): A quiet religious celebration and national holiday. Banks and public government offices remain closed.
28 - Holy Innocent’s Day is the Mexican April Fool’s Day, so don’t believe a word you hear or read, local newspapers traditionally making up phony headlines.
31 - New Year’s Eve: Vibrant fiestas throughout Puerto Vallarta at hotels, nightclubs and homes. Special dinners are served in hotels and fine restaurants. The traditional 12 grapes are eaten at midnight, a wish made before downing each one.