Ajijic Loves to Celebrate
Explore These Yearly Ajijic Events
Tradition, holidays, and a strong sense of community are evident in these yearly Ajijic events. Even when the holidays in Ajijic are Catholic, the traditions that they include persist from year to year not because of the Church, but because of the townspeople who work hard to sustain them. Creating an atmosphere that celebrates life and its various forms of beauty is central to the local culture. The many and very elaborate celebrations held in and around Ajijic annually continually inspire the community. Ajijic Events and annual fiestas are known to take over streets with food vendors, carnival rides, and handcrafted goods for several days at a time. There are fiestas and holidays every month throughout the year, many with elaborate parades.
Mexican Fireworks, Castillos!
Fireworks are part of most Ajijic Events. Intricate displays known as castillos, firework castles, are constructed the night of with fireworks attached to a unique apparatus that spins and launches fireworks in succession to form symbols and images. Live musical performances in the plaza play on until early hours of the morning. Families huddle around tables playing games. Skirts swirl stage-front as couples clap and dance to Mexican favorites. Cannons are fired sky high without warning to the travelers’ surprise. The cacophony of sounds and sights creates an intoxicating energy that can be felt. Ajijic has a reputation for being a favorite place to celebrate fiestas; Mexicans travel from surrounding villages to share in Ajijic festivities.
Ajijic Events & Celebrations
Ajijic events and holidays in the Lake Chapala area are many, especially after September 16th when there seems to be something going on every week into the new year. Things do change without notice so please double check the dates and times of the events you are interested in.
New Years Festivities – January 1st. One of the more recent additions to the Ajijic Events calendar of festivals is a wacky celebration that ends in an afternoon football game against two neighborhoods. The parade usually starts at 1 p.m. at Seís Esquinas in Ajijic and ends at the Tecoluta soccer field. At around 9 p.m. at the Tecoluta soccer field you can see a traditional torito, a bull-shaped fireworks display. People hold it over their heads and run around as it sends out sparks, a popular nighttime tradition during some fiestas in Mexico.
Danza de la Voladores – A traditional ceremony performed on the Malecón during specials events. Native Mexican Indians add their own old-world touch to the village. With deep respect to their heritage, men and women in traditional dress can often be seen on the streets. Witnessing the Danza de la Voladores, a traditional ceremony performed daily on the Malecón, is a cultural spectacle you will want to see. Men in multi-colored woven garb dance around poles up to 150 feet tall as one of them plays the flute and drum. The men climb atop the pole onto a small platform where the dancing and music playing continues. Moments of tension lead to the men, voladores, launching themselves off of the spinning platform in synchronization. Each volador or flier circles the pole 13 times getting closer and closer to the ground until their heads seem to touch. Folklore tells that the tradition began as a ceremony to the god of agriculture and springtime.
Fiesta Patronales also known as The Fiestas de San Andrés – From November 20th to 30th, Ajijic holds its biggest fiesta of the year, in honor of its patron saint, Saint Andres. The town celebrates with processions, fireworks castles, music, amusement rides and other festivities every night in the central plaza. Each night is sponsored by a different organization or group. One night may be the bricklayers; another night may be the gardeners, and another the local farmers. Also known as Fiesta de San Andrés, honors Ajijic’s patron saint. Each town in Mexico has a patron saint and patroness. The day’s sponsors lead with a religious image and launch rockets a hundred feet into the air announcing the parade has begun. Processions occur twice daily depicting biblical scenes that are marched through town ending back at San Andrés Church for afternoon and evening mass. But, you won’t want to miss the nightly festivities. The churchyard is filled shoulder to shoulder with onlookers as castillos – these unique firework castles are constructed up to 4 stories tall. The intricate wooden designs involve moving parts and shapes that are lit with fireworks. Some parts are even engineered to propel into the sky off of the castillo. It is unlike anything you have seen or heard before.
Feria Maestros del Arte – A festival promoting Mexican folk art, held over 3 days each November. This event is a really important cultural event bringing people from all over the world who collect this traditional art work. Sponsors pay for the artisans expenses, including transportation, and the artists are hosted by local families. Colorful patterns, geometric shapes, woven flowers take form on traditional garments and contemporary canvases for the festival. For the past 18 years, the event has brought together an average of 100 of the top artisans from across Mexico to support and promote Mexican folk art. In efforts to promote the culture to younger generations, talks and sessions highlight ancient techniques and innovative approaches. You’ll find art rarely appreciated outside of Mexico like bruñido pottery and pineapple forms from Michoacán. For visitors, there’s even a shipping station to make sure your fragile pieces get home safely. The event is held at the Lake Chapala Yacht Club.
Dia de los Muertos – Or, Day of the Dead as it is known North of the border, is one of our favorite celebrations. It takes place the first few days of November each year. This is arguably Mexico’s most famous holiday. Unlike how it is portrayed, it is not Mexico’s version of Halloween. Instead, it is a time to honor life and death mixing indigenous Aztec rituals with Catholic ceremonies inherited from colonial times. Celebrations are held at the town plaza and cemeteries. You’ll find families cleaning off old offerings and replacing them with new ones. Objects, food, and drink found at altars or ofrendas at gravesites all have significant meaning. Prayers and songs are lifted up to remember friends and family that have passed on. Skeletons and skulls decorate masks, street murals, posters, flags, and even candy. But, the vibrant display of yellow and orange marigolds truly characterize the tradition and are used to guide spirits with their bright colors.
Mexican Independence Day – Mexicans memorialize the day they gained independence from Spanish rule annually on September 16th with a Fiestas Patrias. May 5th, or Cinco de Mayo, is not a celebration of Mexican Independence Day although that misconception is widespread throughout North America. The festivities each September begin the night before. Every town’s delegado – mayor of sorts – recites the famous battle cry from 1810 at the same time all over Mexico. As with most festivals, there is an accompanying parade, dancing in the plaza, mariachi bands, and more food than needed. At the end of the day, there’s even a traditional combate de flores – a flower fight too.
Globos Hot Air Balloon Regatta – Handmade paper hot air balloons fill the Ajijic sky every September heralding the end of summer. Since the 1960s, local businesses and individuals spend weeks constructing these delicate displays that can tower several stories high. The Regata de Globos is held at the Cruz Azul football field in Ajijic and is free to attend, but donations are encouraged. Over-sized balloon coffee cups and ice creams made by local shops float by. Lighting each balloon and getting it in the air involves several members of each team holding the balloon, lighting the propane torch, and directing the hot air balloon once airborne. It’s quite a spectacle to see!
Carnaval – Seven days of parades are spread out over three weeks of celebrating beginning the day before Ash Wednesday, Lent. The date depends on the calendar and can be as early as February 3rd and as late as March 9th. It’s a rambunctious festival that is fondly called Mardi Gras in North America. Carnaval in Ajijic has a unique tradition where cross-dressing masked sayacas chase kids through the streets throwing flour at the crowds. Symbolic papier-mâché floats manned by comical masked figured make their way down cobblestone streets to live music played around all around them. After the parades, join the luncheon and festivities lakeside on the Malecón. In the late afternoon, there is always a rodeo at the lienzo charro.
Mexican Revolution Day – Every November 20th, since 1910, towns in Mexico fill the streets with revelry and parades to commemorate the revolution which lasted ten years. Town folk recreate scenes from the harrowing time before democratization. Young girls dress as adelitas – the heroic women that fought for freedom during the revolution. School groups march in procession carrying depictions of national heroes. In Ajijic, the parade typically begins on Constitución Street. It lasts for an hour or two before ending at the Plaza Principale.
Festival Cultural Sangre Viva – March 13th to 15 celebrate in Ajijic with a three-day festival that promotes Mexico’s indigenous roots. As with most of the world’s native groups, Mexico’s indigenous roots are in danger of being lost forever, and this festival is to keep these roots and traditional alive. Folk music and dance from pre-Hispanic days will be on display. The festival features performances as well as workshops at Centro Cultural and along the Malecón. You can even take part in a traditional sweat lodge ceremony called a temazcal.
Mexican Chili Cook-Off – Celebrated over three days at the end of February. Local restaurants and home chefs compete for the best bowl of chili to raise funds for charity. Surprisingly, this is one of the largest fundraisers in Ajijic each year. Allow for time to peruse before the chilly tasting begins. About 60 booths of artisans and ten or more chili booths can draw quite the crowd. The event also features a margarita and salsa competition along with live music, traditional dance performances, and mariachi bands.