Día de Muertos, November
Día de la Independencia, September
Monarch butterfly season, late October to March
It’s warm in coastal and lowland areas, cool in the highlands and dry everywhere, attracting flocks of foreign tourists. The first week is Mexican holiday season, with transportation booked up and coastal resorts very busy.
Día de los Santos Reyes
January 6 (Three Kings’ Day or Epiphany), rather than Christmas, is the day when Mexican children traditionally receive presents, commemorating the Three Kings’ gifts for the baby Jesus. Mexicans eat rosca de reyes, a large oval sweetbread decorated with candied fruit.
Migratory Bird Season
January is the peak season for migratory birds along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Lagoons and rivers at places such as Laguna Manialtepec and Lagunas de Chacahua are packed with fowl, and San Blas even holds an International Migratory Bird Festival.
Between January 5 and 28, Mérida celebrates its diverse culture with daily dance, music, theater, art, acrobatic shows and other cultural events.
Festival Alfonso Ortíz Tirado
In late January tens of thousands descend upon tiny Álamos for this multi-day festival featuring some of the world’s top musicians playing classical and chamber music, blues, bossa nova and trova (troubadour-type music).
Temperatures are marginally higher than in January, but it remains dry, making this a great month to be in much of Mexico, though it can still be cold in the north and at high altitudes.
Magnificent gray whales calve in bays and lagoons around Baja California from mid-December to mid-April. Whales can also be spotted along the whole Pacific coast during this period. Best months for Baja whale-watching are February and March.
Día de la Candelaria
Candlemas (February 2), commemorating the infant Jesus’ presentation in the temple, is widely celebrated. In Tlacotalpan several days of festivities feature bull-running in the streets, and a flotilla of boats following an image of the Virgin down the Río Papaloapan.
A big bash preceding the 47-day penance of Lent, Carnaval happens during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019; February 26, 2020). It’s wildest in Veracruz, La Paz and Mazatlán, with parades and plenty of music, drinking, dancing, fireworks and fun.
It’s getting steadily warmer all over Mexico, but it’s still dry and the winter season for foreign tourism continues.
Festival de México
Mexico City's historic center hosts music, theater, dance and literary events featuring talent from Mexico and abroad – the capital's biggest cultural bash of the year.
Visitors mob Chichén Itzá for the spring (March 20 to 21) and autumnal (September 21 to 22) equinoxes, when shadows resemble a serpent ascending or descending El Castillo pyramid. Almost the same effect happens for a week preceding and following each equinox.
Festival Internacional del Cine
Mexico’s biggest film event of the year draws top international actors and directors to Guadalajara for a week each March, with more than 250 films screened before more than 100,000 viewers.
US students get a week’s break in late February or March (dates vary between colleges) and many head to Mexican resorts such as Cancún, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas for days of over-the-top partying.
Chacala Music & Arts Festival
The small Pacific coast fishing town of Chacala celebrates everything from music and dance to regional cuisine and local art at beachside venues.
Ultra Caballo Blanco
Started by American runner Micah True, this 82km ultramarathon near Urique follows tough but gorgeous canyon trails, at altitude. The race pays homage to the native Tarahumara, who have a centuries-old tradition of long-distance running and whose very name means 'the running people'.
Temperatures continue to increase, but it stays dry. Semana Santa (Easter Week), which can be in March or April, is Mexico’s major holiday week of the year, with tourist accommodations and transportation packed.
Semana Santa is the week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday (April 21, 2019; April 12, 2020). Good Friday sees solemn processions in many places, and enormous crowds attend a re-enactment of the Crucifixion in Iztapalapa, Mexico City.
Feria de San Marcos
Millions of people attend the exhibitions, bullfights, cockfights, rodeos, concerts and other events of Mexico’s biggest state fair, in Aguascalientes. It lasts about three weeks from mid-April, with the biggest parade on April 25.
Tianguis Artesanal de Uruapan
Semana Santa kicks off with a major crafts competition and Uruapan's main square is then filled with exhibitions and sales of Michoacán handicrafts for the following two weeks.
Temperatures reach annual peaks in cities such as Mérida (average daily high 35°C), Guadalajara (31°C), Oaxaca (30°C) and Mexico City (26°C). It’s low season for tourism, meaning cheaper accommodations prices.
Feria de Morelia
This three-week fair sees regional dance performances, bullfights, agricultural and handicraft exhibitions, plenty of partying and (at the end) fireworks in Michoacán's capital.
Feria de Corpus Christi
Papantla’s big bash features spectacular voladores performances (where men suspended by their ankles, whirl around a tall pole) and indigenous dances, plus charreadas (Mexican rodeos) and parades.
Taking place at the Centro Cultural Tijuana, this superb arts-and-crafts festival (May 20 to 24) features handicrafts for sale from all over Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo
Celebrating the battle (May 5) in 1862 when Mexican forces defeated French troops, the streets of Puebla, where the fighting happened, close for a huge parade of floats with the military, performers and dancers entertaining more than 20,000 people. The following two weeks feature other events.
The rainy season begins, bringing heavy downpours in the southeast, in some places along the Pacific coast and in the central highlands. Tourist numbers and hotel prices remain low.
Festival del Mole Poblano
Puebla celebrates its most famous contribution to Mexican cuisine, the chocolatey mole poblano sauce, in early June.
Countless spots along the Pacific coast, including Puerto Escondido with its legendary Mexican Pipeline, enjoy superb swells from April/May to October/November. June to August generally sees the biggest waves. Beginners can learn to surf almost year-round.
It’s rainy in the southeast, central highlands and along the Pacific coast, but this is a summer vacation month for both foreigners and Mexicans, bringing busy times and higher prices at many tourist destinations.
Oaxaca is thronged for this fantastically colorful feast of regional dance on the first two Mondays after July 16, with plenty of other celebratory events accompanying it.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
Massive whale sharks congregate to feed on plankton off Isla Contoy, north of Cancún, between mid-May and mid-September. The best time to swim with these gentle giants is mid-June to July.
Fiesta de Santa Magdalena
Xico, Veracruz, is abuzz with processions involving elaborate costumes and dance for much of July in celebration of the town's patron saint. A running of the bulls takes place through the streets on July 22 and at the most important processions between July 19 and 25.
La Feria de las Flores
This week-long, major flower festival in Mexico City includes the display of myriad varieties of plants, family activities, performances, and botany-related paintings and sculpture. The festival has pre-Hispanic origins, when followers of Xiuhtecuhtli, Lord of Flowers, would make floral offerings in return for abundant crops.
The summer holiday season continues, as do the rains, although they’re less intense in most areas. June to August is brutally hot in the north.
Feria de Huamantla
Huamantla, east of Mexico City, lets rip over a few days and nights during its mid-August fair. On August 14 the streets are carpeted with flowers and colored sawdust. A few days later there’s a Pamplona-esque running of the bulls.
Zacatecas stages a spectacular mock battle with 10,000 participants, commemorating the triumph of the Christians over the Moors in old Spain, usually on the last weekend of August.
Feria de la Uva
The Coahuila city of Parras celebrates wine every August. Think parades, live music performances, sporting events, religious ceremonies, and thousands and thousands of glasses of wine. The climax? A dance party at Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Americas.
It’s the height of the hurricane season on the Yucatán Peninsula and Mexico’s coasts. It’s also rainy in most places, with poor visibility for Caribbean divers.
Día de la Independencia
On Independence Day (September 16) patriotic celebrations mark the anniversary of Miguel Hidalgo’s 1810 call to rebellion against Spain, the Grito de Dolores. On the 15th, the Grito is repeated from every Mexican town hall, followed by fireworks. The biggest celebrations are in Mexico City.
Low season for tourism, with the possibility of hurricanes, but the rains ease off everywhere except the Yucatán Peninsula.
Festival Internacional Cervantino
Guanajuato’s two- to three-week arts festival, dedicated to Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, is one of the biggest cultural happenings in Latin America, with performances by worldwide music, dance and theater groups.
Copper Canyon Season
October, along with November and March, is one of the best months to visit northwest Mexico’s spectacular canyon country, with temperatures not too hot at the bottom of the canyons, nor too cold at the top.
The weather is mostly dry and hot temperatures are subsiding. Snow tops the high peaks of the central volcanic belt.
Día de Muertos
On the Día de Muertos (November 2) cemeteries come alive as families decorate graves and commune with their dead, some holding all-night vigils. Special altars appear in homes and public buildings. Associated events start days before, notably around Pátzcuaro, Uruapan, Mexico City and Oaxaca.
Festival Internacional de Música
This classical-music festival takes place in Morelia and is befitting of a city that is home to the oldest music conservatory in the Americas. Performances are held in various plazas, churches and theaters.
Feria de la Plata
Some of Mexico’s best silverwork is on show during the week-long national silver fair in Taxco in late November or early December. Charreadas, concerts, dances and donkey races add to the fun.
Festival Gourmet International
Guest chefs from around Mexico and the world descend on the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta for this 10-day feast of the culinary arts.
Festival de las Animas
A new tradition in Mérida, this seven-day festival preceding Día de Muertos culminates in the Paseo de Animas (the Path of Souls) – a procession of participants dressed in traditional Yucatecan clothes, with skulls painted on faces, from the graveyard to Parque San Juan.
A dry month almost everywhere, and as cool as it gets. International winter tourism gets going and the Christmas–New Year period is Mexican holiday time, with accommodations busy and prices high.
Monarch Butterfly Season
From late October to March the forests of the Reserva de la Biosfera Santuario Mariposa Monarca (Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve) turn orange as millions of large monarch butterflies winter here. The best time to watch them is on a warm, sunny afternoon.
Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Several days of festivities throughout Mexico lead up to the feast day of the Virgin, the country’s religious patron – the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12). Millions converge on Mexico City’s Basílica de Guadalupe.
Christmas is traditionally celebrated with a feast in the early hours of December 25, after midnight mass. Pre- or post-Christmas events in some towns include pastorelas (nativity plays), as in Tepotzotlán and Pátzcuaro, and posadas (candlelit processions), as in Taxco.