Don Quixote Meets the Far East in Guanajuato

By: Lisa Coleman

For those who love the performing arts, a trip to the breathtakingly beautiful city of Guanajuato in the fall (especially this October) is a must. The month-long International Cervantino Festival is named in honor of the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote. This year the activities will commence on October 3rd and end on October 21st. This unusual cultural congregation is one of the best in all of Mexico. And to make it even more appealing, Guanajuato is unquestionably one the country’s most magical places. For this incredible event, the entire city becomes a stage and features opera singers, soloists, ensembles, strolling minstrels (estudiantinas), jazz musicians, modern and folk dance troupes, and traditional and experimental theater from around the world. (Check out the Spanish site at

This year’s event will be particularly colorful as China will be the guest of honor. According to Chinese news sources, the invitation coincides with the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Mexico in February, 1972. Chinese Ambassador to Mexico Yin Hengmin said China’s participation in the festival shows the importance the Chinese government attaches to the festival, and the excellent relationship the two nations are in.

Yin said both nations have traditions that went back centuries ago and China’s participation will strengthen cultural links between the two countries. He highlighted Mexico’s large-scale artistic visit to Beijing and Shanghai last year which involved 500 artists, calling it “an excellent opportunity for Asian people to know Mexico.”

In 2007, a total of 12 Chinese artistic and cultural groups will visit Mexico when an event called “Experience China in Mexico” is staged there. During the event, Chinese artists will present traditional dance, music, shadow puppet theatre, contemporary dance and a show of modern ceramics.

The National Chinese Ballet will bring their show The Red Lantern to the Mexican audience, while the Chinese National Theatre Company will present two shows called Flower in the Mirror and Moon in the Water. In the meantime, Sichuan Legendary Puppets, Shaanxi Folkloric Art Theatre, Jilin Song and Dance Ensemble and Beijing Modern Dance Company will also bring their best performances to the festival.

Also, according to those sources, China seeks to strengthen friendship and cooperation with Mexico, and that is why cultural exchanges are important, Yin said.

The International Cervantino Festival, with a budget of 80 million pesos (about 7.4 million U.S. dollars), will draw together 2,009 artists from 26 countries and also 21 of Mexico’s 32 states.