Country of the Month: Mexico
Mexico is the country to go to for a good fiesta, and you couldn’t pick a better month than November to visit the land of guacamole and overly large hats. Especially if you’re also craving a bit of winter sun, as temperatures can still reach up to 30°c at this time of year, perfect for one last top-up of the summer tan before it’s officially winter. From giraffe-shaped hot air balloons to spooky visits from the dead, there’s guaranteed to be something going on this month to keep even the most disinterested souls entertained.
Día de los Muertos
The month gets off to a great start with the celebration of el Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, the Mexican equivalent to Halloween. Fast becoming recognized worldwide thanks to the immense costumes and creepy sugar skull decorations involved, and for playing a part in perhaps one of the greatest James Bond movie opening sequences of all time, the festival commemorates the return of the dead to the mortal world. It’s tradition to make trails of flowers and candles from the graveyards to guide loved ones home again, and the offerings can be pretty spectacular. To get a genuine experience of the festivities, head to some of Mexico’s more rural regions from the 31st October to the 2nd November and experience it all first hand. Just make sure not to wish anyone a ‘feliz día de los muertos’- it sounds weird.
Skulls and bones
Also around this time in Aguascalientes is the Festival de las Calaveras, or the Skull Festival from October 28th – November 6th. There you can find hundreds of skulls crafted from different materials in various sizes, perfect if you want some stocking fillers with an edge for Christmas. There’s also plenty of stalls selling delicious traditional dishes and seasonal fruit, which are worth a visit even if decorated skull replicas aren’t really your thing.
Up and away
The Mexican landscape is pretty spectacular, and there’s no better way to appreciate it than from a bird’s eye view. So it’s no surprise really that the country was chosen to host this years international hot air balloon festival, where you can expect to see over 80 hot air balloons of all shapes, sizes and colours take to the skies. As you can imagine, even if you’re not able to hitch a ride with one of the participants, the view from the ground is breathtaking too and there’s also concerts and exhibitions to add to the festivities. The festival takes place in Leon’s Metropolitan Park from the 18th – 21st November.
If you have tequila craving…
The gastronomy community has recognised for a long time that Mexico is the best place for celebrating fine dining, (it’s not surprising really because who doesn’t like tacos?), and every year hosts the International Gourmet Festival from the 11th to the 20th November in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. This festival really is heaven for foodies; giving you the chance to dine in some of the best restaurants offering unique tasting menus, sample some of the best new wines and tequilas on the market and rub shoulders with some of the top names in the industry.
A time for revolt
A great way to round off your trip is by checking out the celebrations for el Día de la Revolución when each year, on the 3rd Monday of November, the Mexicans commemorate the revolution of 1910. Expect plenty of parades and reenactments with schoolchildren dressing up as the revolutionaries. This year the festival lies on the 21st, but expect celebrations throughout the weekend leading up to it as well.
For more advice on what to do in Mexico, check out our country guide.