We have lived as expats in San Miguel de Allende for over a year now and just can’t get over how jam packed our social life has been. There are always amazing events happening all over town, many are not listed on the big calendars that are dotted around town or in the Que Pasa part of the Atencion newspaper. So we are surprised quite often by stumbling onto something beautiful and exciting.
San Miguel loves to put on a party!!! And we think there are some events you just can’t miss!! (Follow the links to our blog posts for each event) If coming to San Miguel during these times plan ahead and book early since our town can really fill up. Good places to look for accommodation are booking.com, AirBnb and VRBO. If using booking.com please consider clicking on this affiliate link to book at no extra cost to you.
We just experienced our first Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week (which actually takes place over two weeks). Guanajuato State, where San Miguel is located, is one of the areas in Mexico that really pull out all the stops in celebration and the town gets packed!!
It all starts early Sunday morning, two weeks before Easter, with the “Entrance and Discovery of the Lord of the Column” procession. Beginning at midnight in Atotonilco, 8 miles away, the procession eventually hits the outskirts of San Miguel and Avenida Independenca a bit before sunrise. The images (St. John, the Sorrowful Virgin and Jesus of Nazareth) have been wrapped for the journey and it is here that they are unwrapped and carried through the streets to the Temple de San Juan de Dios. The walk over “carpets” of images made out of colored sawdust, camomile, fennel and rose petals brings up an amazing smell. Residents have been up since the early hours creating these carpets and handing out free coffee, hot chocolate and sweets to those who brave the crisp air and come out to gaze at these works of art.
The Friday of Sorrows or Night of Altars happens the following Friday night in Centro and throughout the neighborhoods. This is the last Friday of Lent and people open their homes which have altars made in the entrances. The fountains of town are also decorated with altars and there are more “carpets” on Calle Insurgentes. Once again the smell of camomile, fennel and rose petals wafts through the air. “Tears” of Mary are represented by popsicles which are freely given out.
Easter week officially begins with Palm Sunday and even more processions throughout town. Palm fronds have been on sale since the early morning hours and are made into lovely woven shapes, some with ribbons and flowers. The roads where the processions pass are covered with flowers, some real and some paper. Once again camomile, rose petals and fennel makes themselves known.
Good Friday is a somber day. We went to the Holy Burial Procession in the late afternoon. This procession is over two hours and has been taking place in San Miguel for more than 300 years. Roman soldiers lead and there are men in black suits and purple sashes, women; many in stilettos, dressed for a funeral with lace mantillas and white gloves, and young poised girls in white dresses scattering rose petals and chamomile. Women bear the weight of carrying large images of the Archangels, afterwards comes the heavy glass coffin with Christ’s body surrounded by a mound of flowers which is carried through by 36 men in black. The street is lined with lanterns.
To break the spell Easter Sunday is joyous and the piece de resistance is the Firing of The Judas’s. Large effigies are blown to smithereens in the Jardin and the grand finale was Donald Trump.
Dia de Los Locos
Dia de Los Locos is a huge, spectacularly colorful and raucous parade takes place mid-June. Kicked off by a man dressed in woman’s clothing (as he has been doing for 45 years!!) it all swirls down the streets of Centro from there. Music, floats, mojigangas, and groups in the most amazing costumes throwing out candy delight children and adults. This is definitely photo madness. Get out into the streets early because once again town is packed.
September 16 is Mexican Independence Day and once again the town is in celebration mode with a big parade. Decorations go up around town more than a week prior and the day before is El Grito; or the cry for Independence. This is heard in every town in Mexico at exactly 11pm and is followed by spectacular fireworks set to music. You need to be in the Jardin hours ahead of time and have a long wait. But this is a festive atmosphere and everyone is jovial.
Also in September is La Alborada which takes place the weekend closest to September 29th. It is another of San Miguel’s huge festivals since it is in honor of it’s patron saint; Saint Michael. It is an all night party with fireworks at 5am. Later that morning is the Blessing of the Horses where hundreds of horses and their cowboys/girls come into Centro for a mass. It is a wonderful site. Following this is a Burning of the Judas’s where paper mache effigies on long poles are lit up, blowing up and scattering candy to those waiting beneath. There are several parades during La Alborada and in front of the Parroquia are large colorful structures called Xuchiles.
Halloween/Dia de Los Muertos
Halloween is a prelude to Dia de los Muertos and sees face painters and costumes in Centro. People come out with candy that they give to all the kids dressed up for the night. Although we are not ones for Halloween, in San Miguel it was a lot of fun!!
Dia de Los Muertos is huge!! And for us very emotional. There are Catrina parades on the 1st of November. And this is the night when people go to the cemeteries to honor the children and innocents. The following day everyone descends once again into the cemeteries with armfuls of flowers. There are mariachis and prayer services. The street leading up to the main cemetery is jammed with people selling food, flowers, toys and more. Marigolds reign the day. The old cemetery is more somber and outside of it “altars” line the street.
Dia de Los Muertos in San Miguel is truly and amazing experience and should not be missed. Book early if planning on a visit during this time.
Never being one for “the holidays” Christmas in San Miguel made an impact on me. Gone is the over commercialism of the USA. In Mexico this is about family and tradition. The town is lit up, especially in the Jardin where fairy lights are strung up. For 9 days preceding Xmas posadas weave through the neighborhoods knocking on doors trying to find the holy family shelter. Afterwards people make it to the churches where food is handed out. Christmas Day is relatively quiet but comes alive with fireworks at night.
New Years Eve
Our best New Years Eve ever!!!!! This past year saw a huge orchestra in the Jardin with two world class singers. Oldies but goodies started the evening with everyone doing a major sing-a-long. Fabulous fireworks and video mapping on the Parroquia rang in the New Year.
San Miguel is magical at anytime of the year, but the events above are beyond spectacular. If you make your way to town we hope you enjoy our little slice of paradise.
Hey guys, loved your info on the major festivals…very helpful for us since we are moving to SMA in September! BTW…I’m David Owens…Kathy’s husband!
Hi David!!! We just love Kathy and can’t wait to meet you. Glad you like the blog. You are really going to enjoy your time here.
I know it’s still spring but I’m already looking forward to the holidays in SMA!
Hi Jill, When do you guys get back? Hopefully in time for Los Locos. It is a crazy day and full of fun. Looking forward to your return.