Hurrah for Carolyn! She’s still in San Miguel de Allende (yes, that’s a note of envy creeping in my voice) and sending in a Travel Wench’s eye view of the town’s preparations for the grandest fiesta of all: the Bicentennial!
“In a country with an almost reverent attitude about fireworks and an actual patron saint for same – San Juan de Dios – the party atmosphere is never really undercover. Mexicans work harder than any people I have ever know, and they also know how to celebrate, dance, play music and get their yayas on like no other.
In slightly less than a week, Mexico will be caught up in the biggest party in 200 years – the 200-year anniversary of the 1810 revolution that declared independence from Spain. Here in San Miguel de Allende, the fervor is especially intense. This lovely city was where it all began, with the “grito” or shout of independence, delivered from the balcony of the Allende home across from the elegant cathedral, the Parroquia. For the past several months, the square in between the cathedral and the Jardin has been the site of folklorico dances, concerts, beauty queen contests, speeches and general extreme high spirits – even more than usual, and that’s saying a lot.
The main streets are decorated with red, green and white streamers and sparkly stuff. Bullfights are planned, parades are in the making, art galleries and restaurants are buffing up for a stream of visitors and, unless you just don’t like fun, there is absolutely no reason not to be part of the celebration. The Bicentennial comes at a time when this sweet country is under siege in the press and those visitors north of the border are hesitant about making the journey.
But, I tell you, if there is an ideal time to visit, it is starting right now. The Independence celebrations hit their peak the week of September 13. San Miguel will take a pause to catch its breath, and then October 1-3, it’s time to pay homage to San Miguel Arcangel, the patron saint and guardian angel of the city. More parties, parades, fireworks and happy faces. In November? Put on your dancing shoes and stock up on sugar skulls, because the Day of the Dead is a huge two-day fiesta all over the city.
And have I mentioned that prices for gorgeous, full-service hotels and top restaurants are rock-bottom right now? Yep. If you’re feeling the pinch in the U.S. or Canada, this is definitely the place to stretch your dollars. Fly right into Mexico City and take a comfy shuttle or streamlined air-conditioned bus into San Miguel, or take an alternate flying route into the Leon/Guanajuato airport and reserve a spiffy shuttle from there direct to your hotel room.
Bienvenidos to party central!”