Planning your visit during a local holiday or one of Mexico’s fall festivals is a special way to enjoy the country’s cultural traditions and heritage, often at no cost. Celebrations focusing on religion, gastronomy, history and nature abound in every region of the country all year round.
As Mexico’s self-proclaimed “Festival Capital,” the sophisticated beach town of Puerto Vallarta puts on so many events, especially from September through the New Year, that families have several options to enjoy them.
And since it’s right in the heart of the sophisticated Riviera Nayarit region on Mexico’s Pacific coast, the weather and calm surf are ideal for relaxing after the festivities are done.
Following are some of the Mexico fall festivals, national holidays, special events, and celebrations Puerto Vallarta will be hosting from September to January.
El Dia de Charro, September 14, 2021
Horse lovers: this day, known in English as Cowboy Day, is when men and women ride through the town to honor Mexican cowboys. In past years, we could count on local ranchers in sombreros, dress jackets or outfits showing off the city’s colors to ride their finest horses through the town streets. If the parade is reinstated, the festivities continue into the evening with stalls selling rich food, celebratory dances, and demonstrations of the traditional charro style of calf roping.
¡Viva México! El Grito, September 15-16, 2021
On the Eve of Mexican Independence Day, thousands typically gather below the balcony of Municipal Square to listen to the Mayor proclaim el grito de independencia: “Mexicanos, Vive Mexico” at 11pm. El Grito is an event not to be missed. Keep the kids awake for celebration in the streets, food, drink and fireworks. By the way, el dìa de independencia on September 16th commemorates the day that Miguel Hildalgo announced the Grito de Dolores, starting the Mexican revolt against Spanish rule. Businesses and government offices are closed for the fiestas patrias so locals can enjoy food and dance to celebrate their liberation.
Vallarta-Nayarit Gastronomica 2021, October 28-31, 2021
Count on Mexico fall festivals to commerate a region known for its many world-class restaurants. It’s no wonder they need four days to share a feast of flavors from seven Michelin star chefs who serve both Puerto Vallarta foodies and guests at the major resorts along the coast. After missing a year, this edition of the Vallarta-Nayarit Gastronomica (schedule here) will also feature celebrity chefs from around the world exploring the roots of their cooking.
Dios De Los Muertos, October 31- November 2, 2021
This is the most serious of Mexico fall festivals, when pre-Hispanic religion, life, death, and art come together in honor of deceased family members and friends. For the Mexico culture, costumed participants and parades of colorful skeleton dolls are as close to Halloween as you can get. In Puerto Vallarta, the cemetery located on 5th of December is the site of traditional Day of the Dead observances, but of course relatives honor their ancestors at their own family burial sites. The City sponsors an altar competition in the main square, and the Asociacion Vallarta Centro organizes themed art workshops – great fun to see the contestants’ work.
Mexico Fall Festivals Mean Fitness in November 2021
According to the Tourism Office, November’s schedule is packed with sports and fitness events. The Cop Vallarta Soccer tournament is the first weekend. After 16 successful years, the Puerto Vallarta International Half Marathon on November 7, 2021 (cancelled due to the pandemic last year) is expecting nearly 2,000 runners from Mexico, the US, Canada and countries as far off as Kenya. Join the estimated of 15,000 spectators who will be there, and raise a margarita to cheer them on. Look for the paint-splashed Neon Races and the burly guy Brawny Bear Weekend events later in the month.
Sea Turtle Releasing – July – December, 2021
Stroll the Pacific shores of Puerto Vallarta from late summer to the winter holidays and you’ll find volunteers organizing nests of baby sea turtles for release into the sea. For generations, the green sea turtles have come to lay eggs in the warm sand. Look for the various turtle camps run by biologists and volunteers dedicated to protecting this species until they hatch and are ready to venture into the ocean. Many hotels schedule viewings for their guests. It’s an amazing sight that visitors can participate in, a truly unforgettable experience.
International Gourmet Festival – November 11-21, 2021
Puerto Vallarta’s favorite food festival takes place over a 10-day period before Thanksgiving, and we know you’ll be grateful for the tasty samplings on display throughout this walkable seaside village. This year’s celebration is centered around wine, cheese, and jazz. Expect teamwork among many guest chefs producing new recipes, and enjoy culinary safaris, meet n’ greets with chefs, and themed nights offering distinct dishes – not all spicy — from cities around the world.
El Veinte de Noviembre, November 20, 2021
Join Puerto Vallarta locals to commemorate el Dia de la Revolucion, a Mexico fall festival that honors the start of the Revolution ignited by Francisco Madero. More commonly known by its date, el veinte de noviembre, we hope to see colorful parades and festive street parties, as well as patriotic speeches and official ceremonies. The Mexican Revolution against dictators lasted from 1910-1917, so this year marks 104 years since the end of the revolution.
Fiesta de Guadalupe – December 1-12, 2021
Mexico’s patron saint, Guadalupe or the “Queen of Mexico,” is celebrated for nearly two weeks with small processions prior to her feast day, Dec. 12. This is the same day as Puerto Vallarta’s founding and, after days of smaller events at the cathedral, both the local cathedral and the Church of Guadalupe in Mexico City host large ceremonies featuring mariachis and other performing artists. Come see the festively decorated hotels while rates are still in low season, and hand-painted statues and enormous flower sculptures around town. The mass is capped off by a festival on the waterfront promenade with fireworks, more food and dancing the next day in front of the Basilica.
Christmas – December 24-25, 2021
Christmas (La Navidad) is widely celebrated in predominantly Catholic Mexico with nearly two weeks of festivities. Beginning December 15, see Las Posadas or nightly processions of colorfully dressed characters carrying icons and statues, which symbolize Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Spend Christmas Eve in El Centro outside Our Lady of Guadalupe where piñatas, live music and dancing continue into the night.
New Years – December 31, 2021 – January 1, 2022
Puerto Vallarta’s New Year celebration takes place on the Malecon, the best place to watch the fireworks display over Bahia de Banderas. Afterwards, take the whole family to the cobblestone streets of the Romantic Zone for music, dancing and fresh tacos. The locals celebrate midnight by eating the 12 ‘grapes of happiness’ — one grape every time the clock strikes – a vestige of the Spanish tradition.
Coming Up for Spring 2022
After the spate of Mexico fall festivals and the winter holiday, spring comes around. Puerto Vallarta hopes to mark Carnaval, the festival many associate with Mardi Gras in New Orleans, in 2022. A traditional period of celebration that begins on 12th Night in January, and culminates on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday), it’s always celebrated 47 days before Easter to mark the first day of Lent. To read more about the festivities (typically late February early March), please read 15 Favorite Mardi Gras Outside New Orleans.
The traditional sailing regatta, Vallarta Race 2022 which began back in 1953, leaves the coast of San Diego, California, and ends in the warm waters of Puerto Vallarta. This year, the best yachts will participate as usual, such as the “Pyewacket” Volvo 70 and the new “Bad Pak” Botin-56. Save the dates, March 10-18, 2022.
Puerto Vallarta Trip Planning Tips
Puerto Vallarta is a welcoming town to experience the cultural celebrations of Mexico fall festivals first hand. No need to speak Spanish either; the local community welcomes international visitors interested in their traditions. For more ideas on fall family activities, read our 21 Getaways for Fall 2021 roundup and visit the PV tourism office site.
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