Contrary to popular belief, Mexican Independence Day is not
July 4th. Rather, it takes place on September 16th each year, with festivities beginning on the 15th and spilling over into the following day. Known as the Fiestas Patrias, these days are celebrated country-wide and start with the Grito de Dolores, named for the birthplace of Mexican Independence, Dolores Hidalgo, a pueblo mágico
To celebrate like the chilangos (people from Mexico City), try to make it to the zócalo on September 15th. This huge open square fills to the brim with partygoers who come to see the president make an appearance on the balcony of the Palacio del Gobierno and experience the dar el grito de la independencia (shout for independence). The official grito (shout) can be experienced here, although if you’re not a fan of crowds, this is not the place for you. Expect a turnout of thousands and free concerts to close — or open — the night.
Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, México
If you want to celebrate in luxury, with a view of the huge fiesta taking place in the city’s zócalo, then head to the Gran Hotel. The annual party organized by this hotel includes an extra-special meal with accompanying music and a spot on the terrace for the moment of el grito, plus an optional brunch the following morning. The only catch is you have to book in advance, as spots are very limited and very expensive.
Gran Hotel, Av. 16 de Septiembre No. 82, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 1083 7700
Paseo de la Reforma
If you want to celebrate in the center of the city, but the zócalo doesn’t hold any appeal for you, then head to the Ángel de la Independencia monument. Dedicated to those who fought to liberate the country and graced by the goddess of victory, it was officially opened in 1910 by Porfirio Díaz and remains one of Mexico City’s most important and famed monuments. While this statue can be climbed, we recommend keeping your feet firmly on the ground on September 15th. Instead, party with the crowds who line Paseo de la Reforma to watch it light up with the colors of the Mexican flag.
Paseo de la Reforma y Eje 2 PTE, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, México
Situated right in the center of quirky Coyoacán is the Jardín Cenetario, a plaza that comes alive on the night of the Fiestas Patrias. With live music, Mexican street-food stands and a crowd of Mexicans celebrating their country’s independence, it makes for the perfect spot to celebrate if you don’t want to head to the historic center. Given that this is such a huge night, get there early to fully soak in the buzzing atmosphere.
Jardín Centenario, Coyoacán TNT, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México
Bar La Ópera
Arguably Mexico City’s most legendary bar, we rate Bar La Ópera as one of the top spots to visit in the capital. So why not spend Independence Day celebrating in the bar where Pancho Villa supposedly shot at the roof? It’s said you can still see the bullet holes, though their origin is rooted more in myth than in fact. In any case, drinking a fantastic namesake cocktail in the third oldest bar in the country makes for the perfect September 15th in Mexico City.
Bar La Ópera, 5 de Mayo 10, Cuauhtémoc, Centro Histórico, Centro, Ciudad de México, México, +52 55 5512 8959
Intrinsically linked to that most Mexican of musical forms – mariachi – Plaza Garibaldi is the place to go for traditional live music and an overwhelming sense of national pride. Even though it’s always atmospheric in Mexico City’s historic center, during the Fiestas Patrias, celebrations really step things up. For an especially interesting start to the evening’s festivities, get to the plaza early and taste-test some tequilas in the nearby Museo del Tequila y Mezcal.
Plaza Garibaldi, Calle Caminito s/n, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, Ciudad de México, México
A bit more removed from the central, most popular party zones is the Jardín Cuitláhuac, located in the Iztapalapa area of Mexico City. Due to recent improvements to the garden, this place has grown in popularity, with independence-day revelers looking for somewhere a little different to celebrate the evening. Yet here as everywhere in the city, Mexicans know how to throw a great fiesta, so you’ll still find street-food stalls, fireworks, and live music. Well worth a visit if you want to avoid the city-center crowds.
Jardín Cuitláhuac, Eje 6 Sur S/N, Iztapalapa, Renovación, Ciudad de México, México