May is one of the busier months of the year in Mexico, with a wide variety of holidays, festivals, and events across the country. It seems like the whole month is a holiday, what with Labor Day on the first, then Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, and Teacher's Day following in quick succession. There's no shortage of cultural festivals, either, so there's no danger of running out of things to do this month. May in Mexico is warm, and it's the beginning of rainy season in central and southern Mexico, so pack a rain jacket or umbrella. Here's a look at the major holidays and festivals in Mexico in May.
Rowers, known as "Messengers of the Moon" train for months to participate in this annual event in the Riviera Maya that recreates the pilgrimage of the ancient Maya to worship the Goddess lxChel. They race prehispanic-style vessels from Xcaret Park to Cozumel, a journey of approximately 17 miles, where they participate in a ceremony giving gratitude for their safe arrival, before making the trip.
Labor Day (Día del Trabajo)
May Day in Mexico, as in many places throughout the world, is a day of worker solidarity and protest. It's International Worker's Day, also known as Labor Day or Día del Trabajo in Spanish. Celebrated nationwide on May 1st, this is a national public holiday in Mexico. There are political and labor union marches and official meetings and speeches. Schools, banks, and government offices are closed.
You may be surprised to learn that Cinco de Mayo is not as big a holiday in Mexico as it is in the United States. It's a public holiday but mainly only celebrated in the state of Puebla. May 5th is the date of a battle that took place in Puebla in 1862, in which the Mexican army defeated French forces. Celebrations in Puebla recreate the battle.
Day of the Holy Cross (Día de la Santa Cruz)
If you're in Mexico on May 3rd, you may wake up to the sound of firecrackers going off. This celebration dates back to colonial times. This is el Día del Albañil, a day to celebrate builders. Construction workers mount crosses decorated with flowers on buildings under construction, and have picnics at the site, followed by fireworks.
Every year on the first Saturday in May, more than 7,500 cyclists participate in a scenic 50-mile bike ride along the Pacific Coast and inland through rural countryside on the Free Road that starts in downtown Rosarito Beach and finishes in Ensenada. The event concludes with a fiesta that takes place from noon to sunset at Plaza Ventana al Mar on the waterfront.
Mother's Day (Día de la Madre)
Mother's Day is always celebrated on May 10th in Mexico, regardless of the day of the week (unlike in the U.S. where it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May). Mothers are held in very high esteem in Mexican culture, and on this day, they are celebrated in style. The day may start off with serenades of Las Mañanitas, schools have festivals in honor of the mothers of students and restaurants are packed as moms take the day off from household tasks and are treated to a meal out with their families.
This festival held yearly in Guadalajara and other locations in Jalisco state for three weeks during the month of May includes cultural events such as concerts, exhibits, film screenings, dance performances, and food tastings. Many of the events are free admission. Events take place at many locations in Jalisco, including many in Guadalajara's Teatro Degollado.
Puerto Vallarta's restaurant week offers a great opportunity to enjoy some excellent meals at fixed prices. For the last half of May (from the 15th to the 30th), many of Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants offer spectacular three-course menus with three options each discounted by up to half off (beverages and tips are not included).
The city of Morelia hosts this annual food and wine festival focusing on three aspects of gastronomy: the traditional cuisine of the state of Michoacan, Mexican wine, and avant-garde cuisine (with dinners and cooking demonstrations from renowned Mexican and international chefs). Events are held in the Centro Cultural Clavijero, a beautiful 17th-century building in the heart of Morelia's historical center.
Puerto Vallarta is rightfully known as one of Mexico's most gay-friendly destinations. This annual event celebrates LGBT culture and the city's welcoming atmosphere with music festivals, beach parties, fashion shows, a mass commitment ceremony, and activities in participating bars and clubs. It's usually held the third week of May.
More than 100 artists, both local and of international renown, are featured in this art festival which takes place over Memorial Day weekend on Rosarito's Benito Juarez Blvd. There are also musical and gastronomical presentations, making this a festival where all senses are celebrated.