Baja Festivals and Events
In addition to celebrating Mexico’s national holidays as well as the major Catholic religious holidays, every town in Baja that is named after a Catholic saint holds an annual fiesta on the feast day of its namesake. Add to this seasonal festivals that celebrate lobster, gray whales, wine, etc., and you stand a pretty good chance of happening upon an event of one sort or another on your trip. Here are some of the highlights:
- New Year’s Day, January 1, is a national holiday.
- Día de los Santos Reyes (Day of the King-Saints), January 6, is a Catholic religious holiday, the conclusion of Las Posadas.
- Constitution Day, February 5, is a national holiday.
- Carnaval takes place in late February or early March before Lent. La Paz and Ensenada put on the biggest celebrations in Baja.
- Flag Day, February 24, is a national holiday.
- The Festival Internacional de Ballena Grís takes place in Puerto López Mateos, near Bahía Magdalena .
- The Birthday of Benito Juárez, March 21, is a national holiday.
- Spring Break is not a Mexican festival, but a time when U.S. college students invade Rosarito , Ensenada , San Felipe , and Cabo San Lucas to party.
- Semana Santa (Holy Week) takes place during the week leading up to Easter. After Christmas, it’s the most important holiday of the year for Mexicans, and a time when many popular resorts are likely to fill up with visitors from the mainland.
- The Rosarito–Ensenada 50-Mile Bicycle Ride takes place on a Saturday in April and attracts thousands of cyclists. It is sponsored by Bicycling West (P.O. Box 9441, San Diego, CA, 92169-0441, U.S. tel. 858/483-8777, www.rosaritoensenada.com ).
- The Newport–Ensenada Yacht Race, one of the largest international yachting regattas in the world, takes place on the last weekend in April (U.S. tel. 949/644-1023, www.nosa.org ).
- International Workers’ Day, May 1, is a national holiday.
- Cinco de Mayo, May 5, honors the defeat of the French at the mainland city of Puebla, in 1862.
- Día de la Marina (Navy Day), June 1, is a national holiday, celebrated most enthusiastically in San Felipe and La Playita near San José del Cabo .
- Día de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, September 8, is a special day in Loreto , when the community honors the founding of the first Spanish mission in the Californias.
- Fiesta Patria de la Independencia (Mexican Independence Day), September 16, is also called Diez y Seis, referring to the date. This is Mexico’s celebration of independence from Spain, which dates back to 1821. Mexicali and La Paz put on fireworks, parades, charreadas, music, and folk-dance performances.
- The Rosarito–Ensenada 50-Mile Bicycle Ride is held again on the last Saturday in September.
- Día de la Raza, October 12, commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World and the subsequent founding of the Mexican race.
- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), November 1–2, is Mexico’s third-most important holiday after Christmas and Easter. It is similar to the European All Saints Day.
- The Baja 1000 off-road race takes place during the second or third week of November between Ensenada and La Paz . On alternate years, the course is shorter and limited to Northern Baja only. The event is sponsored by SCORE International (U.S. tel. 818/225-8402, www.score-international.com ).
- The Anniversary of the 1910 Revolution, November 20, is a national holiday.
- The Virgen of Guadalupe, also called Our Lady of Guadalupe, is one of the most important religious and cultural symbols in Mexico. The feast day for this patron saint, Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, takes place on December 12.
- Las Posadas, December 16–January 6, are nightly candlelight processions to local nativity scenes.
- Día de la Navidad (Christmas Day), December 25, is the most important holiday period in Mexico, as well as the United States. Resorts book well in advance around this time, and rates go up accordingly.