October Festivals and Events in Mexico

Sugar skull and pan de muerto at Day of the Dead altar
Simone Hogan / Getty Images

October is a wonderful month to visit Mexico. Weather-wise it's a great time to visit: It's the end of the rainy season and temperatures are milder than other times of the year. There are also many interesting cultural happenings you won't want to miss. The Festival Internacional Cervantino is one of the biggest cultural festivals of the year, and Day of the Dead kicks off at the end of the month which is one of the most magical times to be in the country.

01 of 08

Festival Internacional Cervantino

Juarez Theater during the Festival Internacional Cervantino

Pedro Martin Gonzalez Castillo / Getty Images

One of Mexico's major annual cultural events, the Cervantino Festival is held in the colonial mining town of Guanajuato and draws performers and spectators from around the world. It features all types of spectacles including opera performances, contemporary concerts, theater shows, visual arts exhibits, film screenings, and more. Besides official events, the streets are full of buskers and street performers and the whole city is bustling with activity throughout the entire festival.

In 2020, the festival is cut down from its usual three weeks to just four days, taking place virtually from October 14–18. You can tune in online from anywhere in the world to see the performances and also participate in webinars and live chat sessions with the producers, writers, artists, and performers who bring the Cervantino Festival to life.

02 of 08

Feria del Alfeñique

Sugar skulls at the Feria del Alfeñique in Toluca, Mexico

 Briela / Getty Images

Throughout the latter part of the month of October you can enjoy seeing—and tasting—the elaborate creations of candy makers in the city of Toluca, about an hour from the historical center of Mexico City by car. Artisans prepare for the holiday of Day of the Dead by creating amazing figures with traditional sugar paste candy known as alfeñique and draw inspiration on themes of the season such as skulls and skeletons as well as pumpkins, animals, and items that are customarily placed on the Day of the Dead altar.

The 2020 Feria del Alfeñique is smaller than usual with fewer vendors and maximum capacity limits, but you can see still pick up some of the most stunning sugar skulls in all of Mexico from October 19 to November 2. The market is held in the historical building called Los Portales de Toluca, right in the town center.

03 of 08

Day of the Dead

A Day of the Dead Altar at the Basilica of the Virgin Guadalupe

Gabriel Perez / Getty Images

Although Day of the Dead is tied to the Catholic holiday of All Soul's Day, this well-known Mexican tradition actually traces its roots all the way back to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. This special celebration honoring the deceased takes place from October 31 to November 2, when departed loved ones are remembered and honored in cemeteries and family homes. The culminating celebration on November 2 isn't an official holiday in Mexico, however, most businesses and schools do close and many locals observe this special day.

Festivities take place throughout the country and vary by region, but some Day of the Dead destinations are more lively than others. In the capital of Mexico City, a relatively recent tradition is a massive Day of the Dead parade through the city's main thoroughfare, Paseo de la Reforma. The city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico has some of the most iconic Día de Muertos celebrations, including giant tapestries made of sand and special processions known as comparsas.

04 of 08

Morelia International Film Festival

The main square in Morelia, Michoacan

 Getty Images / Glow Images

Generally held the last week of October in Morelia, Michoacan, the Morelia Film Festival aims to promote the many and varied talents within the world of Mexican cinema and provide a forum for international recognition. There are both theater and open-air screenings of films and the people are invited to attend conferences, roundtables, and exhibits where they can meet film industry personalities.

The film festival takes place from October 28 to November 2, 2020, with most pictures being screened at Cinépolis Morelia Centro theater or Cinépolis Las Américas theater. In addition to the movie screenings, you can also tune in to various other functions that are taking place virtually and free to attend, such as live chat sessions with filmmakers.

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05 of 08

Gran Feria de Tlaxcala

Fairground at the Gran Feria de Tlaxcala

Gran Feria de Tlaxcala

The Gran Feria of Tlaxcala is canceled in 2020.

Tlaxcala is Mexico's smallest state, but you would never guess it by the magnitude of its state fair. Known as the "Gran Feria de Tlaxcala," there are amusement rides, concerts, and exhibits. The fairground has a gastronomic section as well as displays of traditional crafts. Festivities kick off with a grand parade on the last Saturday of October.

06 of 08

Fiestas de Octubre

Wikimedia Commons

The Fiestas de Octubre festival is canceled in 2020.

The city of Guadalajara in Jalisco state celebrates a month-long event every October with concerts, dances, cultural exhibits, and food tastings, attracting visitors and performers from all over the world. An inaugural parade kicks things off at the beginning of the month, and performances by big names such as Jesse & Joy, Elefante, and Paquita La Del Barrio are on the program.

07 of 08


Main stage at the Entijuanarte Festival in Tijuana, Baja California


Entijuanarte is canceled in 2020.

Thousands of people of all ages gather in the open space around "La Bola," the giant sphere that marks Tijuana's Cultural Center for the annual Entijuanarte festival, a regional and binational showcase of artistic culture and diversity. There are concerts, theater presentations, and art exhibits, all with free admission.

08 of 08

Baja Culinary Fest

Chefs prepare dishes for the Baja Culinary Fest

Baja Culinary Fest

Baja Culinary Fest is canceled in 2020.

Billing itself as the most important food festival in Northwestern Mexico, the Baja Culinary Fest is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the unique food culture of Baja California, which is characterized by abundant seafood as well as a growing farm-to-table movement, artisanal beer, and locally produced wine. The festival takes place over four days and features gastronomic shows, tastings, conferences, thematic dinners, product exhibitions, guest chefs, tasting contests, and more.