January is one of the most popular months to visit Mexico. This is high season for travel as folks from colder climates seek the warm weather and sunshine found south of the border. However, travelers seeking warmth should keep in mind that Mexico's weather is not uniformly hot, and this also tends to be one of the cooler months of the year in Mexico. Besides holidays, there are plenty of cultural events that take place in the month of January. Read on for information about the most outstanding celebrations being held in Mexico this month.
January 1st is a national holiday, and in general, it tends to be a quiet day in Mexico. The majority of stores and businesses are closed as folks recuperate from the revelry of New Year's Eve. Museums, archaeological sites, and most tourist attractions are open on their regular schedule, though, so you won't have a hard time finding something to do.
January 6th is Epiphany in the Christian church calendar, and this day commemorates when the three kings (also known as the Magi) visited Jesus bearing gifts. Traditionally, this is the day when Mexican children receive presents, which are brought by the three kings rather than delivered by Santa. It is also customary on this date for friends, family members, or colleagues and coworkers to get together and eat Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread that represents King Herod's crown with figurines of baby Jesus hidden inside.
Mérida International Arts Festival
Mérida, the capital of Yucatan state, is a city with a bustling cultural scene year-round, but never more so than during the annual arts festival when the city is bursting at the seams with cultural events, concerts, theatrical presentations, food tastings, and art exhibits. The festival starts off with a procession with hundreds of Trova singers serenading the "loyal and noble" city of Mérida. This annual festival coincides with the anniversary of the city's founding on January 6, 1542, on the remains of the ancient Maya city of T'Ho.
Also known as the January Festival or "Fiesta de Enero," this is a folk and religious festival with processions and dancing in the streets of Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas state by people wearing masks and colorful outfits. Along with the cultural events, there is a celebration of three religious feast days, the Black Christ of Esquipulas on January 8, San Antonio Abad on January 17, and San Sebastian on January 20. The Dance of the Parachicos forms an important part of this festival and has been declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Fiesta de San Antonio de Abad (Feast Day of Saint Anthony)
On the feast day of Saint Anthony Abbot, also known as Saint Anthony of the Desert, patron saint of the animal kingdom, animals are brought to churches to be blessed, some decorated with flowers and ribbons for the special occasion. In rural areas, you may see farm animals brought to the church for a blessing, whereas in the city it's more commonly domestic animals—besides cats and dogs, there are also birds in cages, turtles, and sometimes even fish.
Fiesta de Santa Prisca (Feast Day of Santa Prisca)
The town of Taxco in Guerrero state comes alive with dancing, fireworks, and celebrations during this annual fair commemorating the town's patron saint, Santa Prisca. The official day is January 18th, but the festivities stretch out over a few days, incorporating the blessing of animals on the 17th (head to Plaza Borda to see the animals decked out for the occasion), and on the following days, there are concerts, shows, folk dances, and a fireworks display at night.
León, the capital of Guanajuato state, hosts the annual state fair every year in January. Concerts and shows, exhibits, and mechanical rides are all part of the fun as León celebrates the anniversary of its foundation on January 20, 1576. The anniversary is celebrated with a major parade along the length of Boulevard Hidalgo to the fairground. Previous editions of the festival have included concerts by big names in the Mexican music industry, such as Alejandra Guzman, Ana Gabriel, and Jesse & Joy.
This annual cultural festival in the town of Alamos, Sonora is given in honor of Alfonso Ortiz Tirado, a doctor, singer and philanthropist from Alamos. The festival's program has an emphasis on operatic singing and chamber music, but popular music and other art forms are also featured. The festival has grown yearly and is now one of northern Mexico's most important cultural events, drawing over 100,000 people from many different countries.
This four-day event in Punta Mita in the state of Nayarit marries the sophisticated worlds of culinary excellence and championship golf. The event features gourmet meals and cooking classes taught by distinguished chefs, a series of wine and tequila tastings, festive gatherings at the luxurious St. Regis Punta Mita Resort and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, sailing adventures at sunset, and “The Punta Mita Cup,” a two-day golf tournament on Jack Nicklaus’s two signature courses, Punta Mita Bahia and Pacifico.
The community of San Blas, Nayarit, welcomes bird enthusiasts from all over Mexico and beyond to celebrate migratory and endemic birds each year at the end of January and beginning of February. Festival events include conferences, seminars, and bird-watching tours offered every morning to places like Isabel Island and La Tovara National Park. Birds you're likely to see include boat-billed herons, northern jacanas, purple gallinules, mottled owls, and white ibises. There are also cultural festivities in the central plaza, such as traditional dance performances, singing, and other special events.
The Festival Sayulita is a film festival held at the end of January in the bohemian surf town of Sayulita on Riviera Nayarit. This festival appeals to lovers of Mexico, film, music, food, tequila, and surf. Some of the events include tequila and food pairings, master tastings, beachfront and private film screenings, lecture series, and live music. Proceeds from the festival events go to support a local community center known as El Centro.