If you class November as winter, which, for the purposes of this post, we most definitely are, then you cannot miss one of Mexico City’s most popular music festivals, Corona Capital. Held in the penultimate month each year, this huge multi-day event brings together a number of big name performers both from Mexico and beyond.
In a similar vein, there’s a reason why many people believe November is the best time to visit Mexico, period, and at least 60% of that reason is Day of the Dead, a.k.a. Día de Muertos. This annual event celebrates the dead by remembering how they were prior to shuffling off this mortal coil. For two full days, relatives create altars and hold graveside vigils, while James Bond’s influence has led to the advent of a giant Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City’s historic centre. Untraditional? Yes. Unmissable? That too.
That other 40% of why people think November is peak Mexico – is surely due to the good weather. The rainy season is done and the mornings are yet to acquire their crisp and cool edge that might have you longing to snuggle under your duvet for ten more minutes. In short, you don’t need a raincoat, nor will you sweat too profusely while riding the metro.
December 12th marks the feast day of Nuestra Virgen de Guadalupe, as well as the beginning of Mexico’s Christmas posada season. However, given that the Virgen supposedly made her first appearance to Juan Diego back in 1531 on a hillside in Mexico City, this event is especially commemorated in the capital. And that hillside, now pretty much the location of the huge Basilica de Guadalupe, is where most of the celebrating and religious pilgrimage-ing takes place.
Post-posada season, it’s time for Christmas and very few places in Mexico go all out for the festive season like Mexico City. In the historic centre, the zocalo is overtaken with a giant Christmas tree and ice rink, while the surrounding buildings and streets are strung with multicoloured Christmas lights. Wrap up warm and head there for an evening while in Mexico City over winter.
King’s Day is celebrated on January 6th each year and was once the date on which children received their Christmas presents. Nowadays, in practice, fraught parents are likely to gift their sprogs something on both Christmas Eve and King’s Day. However, if you’ve outgrown presents from Santa Claus, King’s Day is also a day for eating copious amounts of rosca de reyes, a festive sweet bread, within which are hidden several plastic baby Jesus dolls. If you get a Jesus in your bread, you have to buy everyone tamales on Día de la Candelaria (February 2nd).
After a ton of festive indulgence and celebration, do as pretty much everyone does (chilangos included), and wrap up in a blanket, stick on Netflix and enjoy a hearty bowl of Mexican soup. Choose from a rich crema de elote, a Mexico City classic caldo Tlalpeño or a spicy tortilla-laden sopa Azteca. Whichever you go for, you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.
If you’re open to travelling ever so slightly outside of Mexico City, say, to the State of Mexico, you can catch the monarch butterflies in all their orange and black-winged glory over winter in Mexico. These beautiful creatures, like many other North Americans, migrate south to Mexico for winter, settling in the fir forests of Mexico State and Michoacán in particular. On warm, breeze-free days they flutter around the forests and will have you feeling like a character in a Disney flick.
Ambulante Festival is a roaming documentary film festival which heads to several Mexican states and cities over the course of the year. It typically makes land in Mexico City around January or February time, screening indie films, documentaries and putting on all sorts of other fun (and usually free) events and workshops too.