Festivals and Events
Puerto Vallarta residents enjoy their share of local fiestas. Preparations for Semana Santa (Easter week) begin in February, often with a Carnaval parade and dancing on Shrove Tuesday, and continue for the seven weeks before Easter.
Each Friday until Easter, you might see processions of people bearing crosses filing through the downtown for special Masses at neighborhood churches. This all culminates during Easter week, when Puerto Vallarta is awash with visitors, crowding the hotels, camping on the beaches, and filing in somber processions, which finally brighten to fireworks, dancing, and food on Domingo Gloria (Easter Sunday).
The town quiets down briefly until the Fiesta de Mayo, a countrywide celebration of sports contests, music and dance performances, art shows, parades, and beauty pageants.
On the evening of September 15, the Plaza de Armas (City Hall plaza) fills with tipsy merrymakers who gather to hear the mayor reaffirm Mexican independence by shouting the Grito de Dolores—“Long Live Mexico! Death to the Gachupines!“—under booming, brilliant cascades of fireworks.
Celebration again breaks out seriously during the first 12 days of December, when city groups—businesses, families, neighborhoods—try to outdo each other with music, floats, costumes, and offerings all in honor of Mexico’s patron, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The revelry climaxes on December 12, when people, many in native garb to celebrate their indigenous origins, converge on the downtown church to receive the Virgin’s blessing. If you miss the main Virgin of Guadalupe fiesta, you can still enjoy a similar but smaller-scale celebration in El Tuito a month later, on January 12.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition