Traveling in Mexico: The Guelaguetza Festival in Oaxaca

Question: What do the King and Queen of Spain, the Emperor of Japan, and
the Princess of Monaco all have in common?

Answer: They've all attended the Oaxacan festival of Guelaguetza.

The pride of Oaxaca, held on the last two Mondays of July, this year July
17th and 24th, the festival of Guelaguetza is Oaxaca's answer to Rio's
carnival. Planning and preparation take nearly one year and the results
show it. It is spectacular to say the least. For the weeks prior to the
festival it already pervades virtually every aspect of Oaxacaqueño life.

Beginning in the morning around 9:00 or 10:00, brilliantly costumed folk
dancers from each of the seven regions of Oaxaca perform traditional dances
to live music and toss offerings of fruit and produce to spectators at the
end of each folk routine. Culminating the festival are the colorful
Pineapple dance by the agile women of the Papaloapan region and the
exciting, stately, Feather Dance by men depicting the Spanish conquest of
Mexico. Seating for the event, held at the Auditorio de Guelaguetza on a
hill known as "Cerro de Fortin" to the north overlooking the city, go on
sale months in advance of the event. There are free seating areas in this
open-air stadium but you must be there very early for any hope of a
seat. You'll need to wear a wide-brimmed hat or sunshade and bring plenty
of water to drink as the festivities last several hours. The Saturday
prior to the main event, delegations from each of the seven regions stage a
colorful, musical promenade through the city streets.

If you miss the festival, not to worry, videos of past festivals are
usually on sale at travel agencies in town. Ask around for availability
and the best prices.

Be sure to check out my other articles in the two continuing series: Teaching English in Mexico and Traveling in Mexico. If you would like more information, have questions or comments, the author can be e-mailed; see address below.