Saturday, April 20, 2024

April fairs and festivals: rock music, strawberries, bulls and donkeys

Spring has arrived, and there are plenty of events and festivities to dive into in April. Among Easter’s festivities is the annual Quema de Judas (Judas Burning) event, often a highly spirited ritual sacrifice of Christ’s betrayer on Holy Saturday, typically involving fireworks, on April 16 or April 17. It happens in many communities around Mexico, maybe even yours.

Also, if you’re a racing fan and are going to be in Mexico City in October, the time is now to buy tickets for CDMX’s Formula 1 racing events, from October 28–30 at the Hermanos Rodríguez Autodrome, with tickets going on sale via Ticketmaster on March 25. They always sell out quickly.

If you happen to have a Mexican credit card, some credit card companies are offering special Formula 1 ticket presales this week before they become available to the general public on the 25th, so check with yours.

• Strawberry Festival, Irapuato, Guanajuato (Now–April 3)

The world capital of strawberries invites visitors to enjoy its annual Feria de Fresas,  fairground rides, watch Papantla Flyers and, yes, try a few strawberries. Also, get your cowboy hats at the ready to see Latin Grammys and Billboard Latin Music awards-winning Mexican singer Christian Nodal, as well as Julión Álvarez, a singer from Chiapas who’s also received nominations for both aforementioned awards. There will also be an homage to the late narcocorrido singer Valentín “El Gallo de Oro” (The Golden Rooster) Elizalde. Buy tickets for the concerts here.

SCORE 250 race San Felipe, Baja California
The annual SCORE 250 off-road desert racing event returns to San Felipe, Baja California, for another year, starting on March 30. File photo

• SCORE San Felipe off-road racing, San Felipe, Baja California (March 30–April 3)

Cars, motorcycles, quad bikes and other four-wheelers line up to race through the desert terrain of Baja California. Baja California’s Ministry of Health is currently requiring COVID safety protocols at all large events, so come prepared to use a facemask, keep a safe distance and encounter checkpoints with sanitizing gel and required temperature checks.

• Tecate Pa’l Norte Festival, Monterrey, Nuevo León (April 1–2)

The heavyweight rock and pop festival returns to Monterrey’s Fundidora Park. Caribou, Maroon 5, Nicola Cruz, the Libertines and the Strokes are some of the biggest names at this year’s event. Available tickets start at 4,068 (US $200).

• Festival Expo Tejupilco, Tejupilco, México state (April 1–10)

A local festival highlighting regional heritage, traditions and customs celebrated in honor of the Señor del Santo Entierro. Get a taste of traditional Mexican culture and food, including drinks typical of the event such as el chorreado — a hot drink made with milk, chocolate and alcohol of one’s choice — and the powerful torito (the little bull) cocktail. Find out more info here.

• International Horse Festival, Texcoco, México state (April 1–24)

Horse shows, bull runs, cowboy culture, music and fairground rides all find their place at this annual horse festival in Texcoco, La Feria Internacional del Caballo Texcoco, which dates back to the 1940s. Tickets start at 336 pesos (US $16.50) to see well-known Mexican musical acts like Julión Álvarez, big band Banda MS and cumbia group Los Ángeles Azules.

• Domingo de Ramos Festival, Uruapan, Michoacán (April 9–24)

A folk art event in a region famed for the strength of its handicrafts and artisanship, taking place in various locations in the historic center. There will be artesanía and indigenous clothing contests, indigenous food displays and musical events as well as a revered artisan market with nearly 2,000 participants, this year taking place at Uruapan’s Casa de Cultura. The event been expanded this year to two weeks, so you’ll have more time to browse, but if you’re in the market for artisan goods, go on the first day to find the best items on offer. Find out more details here.

Also, as part of the festival, legendary Mexican songstress Lila Downs will be giving a free concert at Uruapan’s plaza de asta bandera (the municipal park where the Mexican flag is displayed) on April 9 at 8:30.  

• Tuxpan Easter Festival, Tuxpan, Veracruz (April 8–20)

Tuxpan, a city on the Veracruz coast, celebrates its annual Easter Festival, the Feria de Semana Santa. Huapango, the traditional local music, will reverberate and matlachines dancers will be performing. Also, sample the region’s famous cuisine, including pumpkin, prawns and fried plantain dishes.

As part of the festival, there’ll be sports and cultural events and a fairground.

• Zacatecas Cultural Festival, Zacatecas city (April 9–23) 

The 36th edition of the event aims to promote local art and exhibit the state’s cultural wealth with music and a nod to architecture. Theater, dance, opera and other shows will be on the bill at the city’s Plaza de Armas, the Fernando Calderón Theater, the Plaza Miguel Auza, the Plaza Goitia, and the old San Francisco convent. See the full schedule of events here.

• Jerez Spring Festival, Jerez, Zacatecas (April 13–25)

With a hint of rivalry, the historic Magical Town of Jerez, 56 kilometers southwest of Zacatecas city, holds its Feria de Primavera on similar dates. The traditional festival is strong on horses but also features a Queen of the Fair beauty pageant and various sports tournaments in volleyball, basketball and racquetball.

Texcoco hot air balloon festival
Texcoco’s free hot-air balloon festival takes place April 30–May 1. File photo

• San Marcos Festival, Aguascalientes city (April 16–May 8)

This 90-hectare festival in Aguascalientes celebrates its 193rd birthday this year and has something for everyone. The Feria Nacional de San Marcos offers visitors colonial tradition in the bullring, music, nightclubs and family attractions on an artificial lake on San Marcos Island. There will also be a number of Mexican artists performing as part of the fair’s palenque concerts, including Gloria Trevi, Christian Nodal, Edith Marquéz and Pepe Aguilar. Find tickets here, but note that when you are taken to the Ticketshop website, you must click the link in the middle of the screen where it says to “remove all filters” in order to see the available shows.

• Motorcycle Week, Mazatlán, Sinaloa (April 20–24)

The 26th edition of the Semana Internacional de la Moto Mazatlán is expected to attract thousands of bikers from Mexico and beyond. Events will include a beach party, a biker parade and concerts with both Mexican and international rock artists. General admission costs 550 pesos, while 950 pesos will get you a bracelet that provides VIP access. Photos from a previous event show that Carlos Santana once performed here. Buy tickets here.

• Expo Festival Guadalupe, Nuevo León  (April 21–June 12)

A bull-heavy local festival in Nuevo León’s second biggest municipality with over 70 years of tradition. Expo Feria Guadalupe can entertain the kids at the fairground while parents find their way to the beer garden. Last year, the 60 pesos (US $3) at the gate gave people unlimited access to fairground rides.

• The International Image Festival (FINI), Pachuca, Hidalgo (April 22–29)

The festival organized by the Autonomous University of Hidalgo provides a space for artistic creation and visual communication through exhibits, conferences and workshops.

The theme this year is climate change and the invited country is Germany. Previous editions have taken borders, water and populism as themes.

• National Donkey Festival, Otumba, México state (April 29–May 1)

The running of the donkeys in Otumba, known as the Carrera Internacional del Burro, where the beasts of burden are dressed up in local traditional costumes and run five- and 10-kilometer races. If Donald Trump-themed donkeys or a Buzz Lightyear burro sound appealing, then this is a must. Visitors can also watch a donkey polo match. Note that the information about buying tickets that is listed at the link we provided applies to racers, not spectators.

• Puebla Festival, Puebla city (April 29–May 14)

Puebla’s major festival returns: the Feria de Puebla at the Centro Expositor y de Convenciones de Puebla (Puebla Expo and Convention Center).

Bull running and cockfighting events, plus music from famed Mexican artists such as Carlos Rivera, Banda MS and Los Tigres del Norte. Concerts start at about 11:30 p.m. Tickets cost from 300-3,500 pesos (US $15-172). Buy tickets for the concerts here. Any tickets labeled as “Palenque Puebla” are for concerts at the festival.

• Vaivén Festival, Tequesquitengo, Morelos (April 30)

The electronic and alternative festival returns to Tequesquitengo’s stately botanical garden, the Jardines de México. Acts will include Iceland’s Sigur Rós, the British group Jungle and U.S. DJ Porter Robinson. Available tickets start at 1,540 pesos (about US $75).

• Hot-Air Balloon Festival, Texcoco, México state (April 30–May 1)

This free event will take place at the San Nicolás Tlaminca soccer field. If you’re willing to shell out 300 pesos, you can enjoy a hot-air balloon ride as well.

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