July 30, 2010

Viva Mexico!

It might feel a little soon to be writing about September or November 2010, but this year is a little special. Besides, if anyone wishes to be here for it, then you really need to be booking up flights and accommodation in advance. The whole of 2010 is significant for Mexico, as it's both our bicentennial and our centennial year.

Viva Mexico

On September 16th 1810, the bells were tolled to signal the War of Independence, which ultimately led to freedom from Spain. 100 years later, on November 20th, 1910, the Mexican Revolution began. This finally established true democracy throughout the country. It is now 2010 and parties, parades and other celebrations will mark the anniversary of both major events.

Both are generally celebrated in annual events anyway. At midnight on September 15th, Mexicans will gather in the street to ring their bells. El Grito de la Independencia (Independence Cry) will be yelled out, usually taking the form of someone re-enacting the historic speech given by Padre Miguel Hidalgo. This Catholic priest was the man who sparked the whole movement into independence. At the end, everyone goes wild, screaming, 'Viva Mexico!' until hoarse; then parties ensue until the early hours of September 16th.

Much of this will be happening in downtown areas or over on Isla Mujeres, so those of you booking for Cancún might need to venture out of the Hotel Zone. However, if you do wish to stay put, you won't miss out. El Grito is relayed through the big screens of the nightclubs and even the small screens of the hotel bars.

Here is a taste of how that looked last year, though this video doesn't show the fireworks filling the skies, nor the music and dancing accompanying the festivities:

The next day, on September 16th itself, there will be a grand military parade through the streets of the city. Thousands of locals and tourists alike traditionally turn out to view this amazing spectacle. Meanwhile, the Viva México En Cancun festival runs throughout the month, with numerous exhibitions, demonstrations, street entertainment, food tasting events, vibrant folk music and dancing, craft stalls, film screenings and the like. The event list is too vast and packed to be squeezed into a little blog.

If you are planning to visit the area for that, then it's also worth noting that Chichén Itzá is the place to be at Autumn Equinox. It is here, at dawn on September 21st, that the stairs of El Castillo are subject to a natural phenomenon, which was quite intended by the ancient Maya architects. The god, Kukulkan, can quite plainly be seen, in the shadows cast by the sun's rays, descending the stairs as a feathered serpent.

November 20th, Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day), is marked by a bank holiday in Mexico, where many of the stores, banks etc will be closed. However, that just paves the way for a host of other attractions, unique to the day. This year, more than ever.

Viva Mexico

In Cancún, it will be a very family orientated day. The festivities start in the Main Square, Avenida Tulum, in downtown Cancún, at 8.30am, with a huge parade through the streets. Alongside city dignatories and students, there will be gymnasts and acrobats delighting the crowds. The parade also depicts scenes from Mexican history, while celebrating many aspects of its culture. The rest of the day will be riot of fun and galas, with speeches, patriotic events, rodeos and just downright partying.

The next day, a trip to Playa del Carmen should be on the cards. It is here, on November 21st, 2010, that the Taste of Playa del Carmen food festival is being held. Twenty sponsors and over 25 restaurants will be pooling resources to deliver the very best in Mexican cuisine. 3000 people are expected to throng through the streets, sampling a little here and a bit there. This is the opportune moment to sample those unfamiliar dishes that you were always too nervous to try before.

There is a lot more going on besides, not least the Cancún Riviera Maya Film Festival (Nov 17-21st, 2010) and the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival (Nov 24th-27th, 2010).

In short, being in Mexico at this time is like visiting the USA for July 4th. It really is an unmissable celebration.

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