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Festivals to look forward to in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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A charming colonial town in the heart of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is a destination that’s not to be missed. San Miguel de Allende, after all, is renowned for its vibrant festivals, many of which are rooted in indigenous customs mixed with colonial influences. It is said the city recognizes 75 official festivals a year, but there are another 75 unofficial festivals, often small neighborhood-specific events. This is a festive town!

Ready to get started? Join us as we explore the must-attend San Miguel de Allende festivals in 2023 that make this beautiful corner of Mexico a year-round destination for culture, creativity, history, and community.

Table of Contents

San Miguel de Allende, a brief overview

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, located in Mexico’s central highlands, has a rich history dating back to the pre-Columbian era when it served as a home for the semi-nomadic indigenous Chichimeca people. This changed in 1542, with the arrival of the Spanish conquistador Juan de San Miguel, the eventual founder and namesake of the city.

Because of its location on important trade routes during the colonial period, San Miguel de Allende – then called San Miguel el Grande – played an important role in the region’s economy. During this time, the city also became an important center of religious activity, with several magnificent churches and monasteries being built.

San Miguel de Allende experienced a period of decline in the 20th century. However, in the 1940s, artists, writers, and intellectuals from all over the world were drawn to the city’s rich cultural legacy and stunning colonial architecture. This influx of intellectuals ushered in a new era of growth and prosperity for San Miguel de Allende, which is still felt strongly in the city today.


Colorful skulls

Whether you’re a tourist exploring this enchanting destination or an expat considering making it your long-term home, understanding the local festivities can deepen your appreciation for San Miguel de Allende’s unique character and offer you a glimpse into its vibrant cultural tapestry. Here are a few examples of the top San Miguel de Allende festivals in 2023 and beyond.


  • San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival

    The San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival in San Miguel de Allende is an energetic and culturally rich event that honors the craft of writing and storytelling. It is held in the first few months of every year and provides a distinctive fusion of literary exploration, creativity, and community building.

    First held in 2006, the multi-day conference draws authors from all over the world, both established and up-and-coming. Internationally renowned author Sandra Cisneros – herself a resident of San Miguel de Allende and best known for the bestselling novel, “A House on Mango Street” – often enthralls fans at the conference. Attendees can immerse themselves in a wide variety of workshops, panel discussions, and readings throughout the event that are led by well-known authors, poets, and business experts. The topics covered in these sessions range from developing one’s craft to navigating the publishing industry.

    Additionally, the festival features keynote speakers who share their perspectives and experiences, providing aspiring writers with priceless motivation. In addition to its educational components, the conference promotes a sense of community by offering chances for networking and creating connections with others who share similar interests. Evenings are also filled with cultural activities such as musical performances, art exhibits, and culinary experiences, all of which allow visitors to experience the rich tapestry of Mexican culture.


priest Polding palm leaves

  • Semana Santa

    Holy Week or Semana Santa is another major cultural celebration in San Miguel de Allende. Semana Santa brings together Catholic traditions with indigenous rituals, resulting in a unique and immersive spiritual experience for Roman Catholics marking the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    During this period, San Miguel de Allende’s cobblestone streets are adorned with intricate carpets made from colored sawdust, flowers, and other materials, which serve as a backdrop for the grand processions. Throughout the week, elaborate reenactments of the passion of Christ take place, drawing spectators into the deep religious significance of the holiday.

    Locals and visitors alike participate in processions, often carrying statues and religious artifacts, while others play characters in the Bible. By Easter Sunday, food vendors can be seen lining the streets, offering visitors tantalizing Mexican dishes, including regional specialties like tamales and churros.


Guanajuato International Film Festival

  • Guanajuato International Film Festival

    One of Latin America’s premier film festivals since its inception in 1998, the Guanajuato International Film Festival offers a platform for emerging talent while also featuring works from established filmmakers. The festival fosters a dynamic exchange of ideas and creativity and showcases innovative, diverse, and thought-provoking cinema from around the world.

    Held in three different cities including San Miguel de Allende, the festival boasts a packed schedule of screenings, workshops, and discussions that cater to both cinephiles and industry professionals. It’s a unique opportunity to witness cutting-edge films across various genres and languages, from gripping dramas to mind-bending documentaries.


Mexican flag

  • Independence Day (September 15 and 16)

    September 16th marks Mexico’s Independence Day, a nationwide celebration, which San Miguel de Allende typically kicks off on the eve of September 15th with El Grito, the traditional cry for independence.

    The main square, El Jardín, is beautifully adorned with Mexican flags, lights, and decorations. The mayor, and in past years, even the Mexican president, leads the ceremony from the balcony of the home of Igancio Allende, for whom the town is now named, echoing Miguel Hidalgo’s cry for freedom in 1810. The crowd joins in shouting “Viva México!” and then singing the national anthem in an atmosphere that can only be described as electric.

Viva Mexico

Following El Grito, the town erupts into a massive street party. The streets are filled with food vendors, music, dancing, and fireworks. You can savor delicious street tacos, tamales, and churros while listening to live mariachi bands or local musicians.

The following day, September 16, a colorful parade winds its way through the cobblestone streets, with participants garbed in traditional Mexican attire, folk dancers showcasing Mexico’s iconic dances, and marching bands playing Mexican cultural anthems.

Mariachi Band

  • Fiesta de San Miguel Arcángel (September 29)

    The Fiesta de San Miguel Arcángel is celebrated in honor of the town’s patron saint and encapsulates the vibrant spirit of San Miguel de Allende. Held in late September, the fiesta usually kicks off with a solemn procession featuring elaborately costumed participants and rhythmic drum beats through the town’s cobblestone streets – a striking display of religious devotion that sets the tone for the entire celebration.

    As the day progresses, the once-solemn atmosphere transforms into a full-on colorful fiesta, with mariachi bands, folk dancers, and local musicians filling up the streets and providing visitors with an immersive experience.

    In addition to the street performers, food vendors also line the plazas, offering revelers mouthwatering street fare, from savory tacos al pastor to sweet treats like cinnamon-dusted churros. These treats are then all chased down with traditional drinks such as aguas frescas (fruit-infused beverage) or stiffer fare like tequila and mezcal, a fun and communal way to embrace local customs.

    As the night comes to a close, visitors get treated to a mesmerizing fireworks display, the explosions of color and sound a fitting end to a celebration that shines a light into the heart and soul of San Miguel de Allende and everything that makes it a captivating place to call home.


Woman with face paint

  • Day of the Dead (November 1 and 2)

    When it comes to cultural festivities in Mexico, there’s nothing quite like Dia de los Muertos. Held during the first and second days of November, Dia de los Muertos is meant to honor and remember the deceased with processions to celebrate their lives and promote the healing of those they left behind.

    In contrast to other events honoring the dead, Dia de los Muertos has a joyful and celebratory air, during which the town is adorned with marigolds, papel picado or decorative paper banners, and intricately crafted sugar skulls. Visitors will also find altars set up in homes, shops, and public spaces to honor deceased family members and friends. Known locally as ofrendas, these altars are decorated with the favorite foods, drinks, and mementos of the departed, allowing the living relatives to maintain a deeply personal and emotional connection with the deceased.

Dia de los Muertos

Easily one of the most iconic celebrations in San Miguel de Allende, Dia de los Muertos is characterized by several major highlights including vibrant and lively processions through the cobblestone streets, cleaning and decorating the graves of their ancestors, gifting each other with sugar skulls, dressing up in elaborate Calavera and Catrina costumes, and sharing pan de muerto (a traditional sweet bread usually offered to the dead) with friends and family.

Music Festival

  • International Jazz and Blues Festival

    While not a typical Mexican festival, the International Jazz and Blues Festival has grown in significance and popularity in San Miguel, much like the San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival.

    The cobblestone streets of the historic town serve as a picturesque backdrop as renowned national and local artists grace various stages and perform a varied selection of jazz and blues. The musical variety is astounding and the festival’s appeal extends beyond music. Visitors can indulge in mouth watering fare from food vendors, sample regional wines and tequilas, and take part in the vibrant local arts scene.


Nina in parade

  • Navidad

    Christmastime in San Miguel is marked by parades, feasts, live shows, religious traditions and pageantry, and ornaments. The season in San Miguel typically starts with Las Posadas, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. These processions involve singing, candlelit parades, and children dressed as Mary and Joseph. They often move from house to house, symbolizing the couple’s journey.

    El Jardin, the central square is the site of a giant Christmas tree adorned with lights. Elsewhere, Nativity scenes abound and poinsettias are everywhere. Friends and family gather for reunions called posada parties, where singing, drinking, and breaking piñatas filled with candies and small toys take place.

    During Christmas Eve, families attend a Midnight Mass and then come together for nochebuena, a festive dinner that often includes traditional Mexican dishes like tamales, bacalao (salted cod), and ponche (fruit punch). Other Mexican holiday treats are served like buñuelos (fried dough pastries), atole (a hot, sweet drink), and rompope (a Mexican eggnog-like beverage).


Travelling in Mexico

There’s nothing worse than going on holiday and finding yourself woefully unprepared for the trip. To avoid that, we’ve come up with a list of tips and recommendations to help make your vacation as stress-free as possible:


Plan ahead

It is important that you plan your trip ahead of time, given that San Miguel de Allende’s festivals all tend to draw large crowds. One way to do this is by researching festival calendars, which will help you see which events are aligned with your interests and schedule. You should also book your accommodations and plane tickets a few months before your vacation, as this will help you get good deals on both your hotel and flight.

Learn about the place

Attending festivals in San Miguel de Allende is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local culture. To fully immerse yourself in the experience, spend some time before your trip to learn more about the region’s traditions and customs.

For example, because many of these festivals involve parades, processions, and other outdoor activities, you should always make it a point to dress comfortably and appropriately. In addition, you should always make sure to ask for permission before photographing religious ceremonies or processions. Finally, try to take the time to learn the language, as it’s considered a sign of being respectful to greet locals regardless of their age with traditional greetings such as “Buenos días” in the morning; “Buenas tardes,” when you meet them in the afternoon; and “Buenas noches” at nighttime.

Choose the right accommodations

Outdoor barbeque

Consider an investment property in San Miguel de Allende so you’ll always have a place to stay when you visit and rent out to others when you’re not around. Inquire here.

Choosing the right place to stay in San Miguel de Allende can significantly enhance your festival experience. Fortunately, this picturesque town offers a wide range of accommodations to suit various tastes and budgets.

First among your options are boutique hotels. Given the history of San Miguel de Allende, there is no shortage of beautifully restored colonial buildings, many of which have since been converted into boutique hotels. One of the most in-demand properties in the area, these hotels not only provide a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities but they are also located near the town center, which means their residents have easy access to all the festivities.

Those who prefer a more private and home-like experience, meanwhile, will do well to check out vacation rentals in San Miguel de Allende. These properties range from charming historic houses and apartments to sleek condos and townhouses and are best for those traveling with a group, as they allow travelers to enjoy cheaper rates throughout their stay.

Another popular option for travelers in San Miguel de Allende is luxury hotels, from the Rosewood and Live Aqua, to the upcoming Waldorf Astoria. Perfect for those who prefer indulgent getaways, these hotels come with everything anyone could ever ask for, such as spas, gourmet dining, and concierge-style services.

On the other hand, those who wish to stay longer in San Miguel–as well as those who plan repeat visits – will do well to check out vacation homes in San Miguel de Allende and investment properties for sale. Ranging from single-family homes to luxury condos, these properties make for stable investments, as they allow buyers to have a place they can stay in when they visit which they can then rent out to others when not in use. And good local Realtor can give insight into rental income and ROI expectations for such an investment, as well as long-term expected appreciation.

Navigate with ease

Once you’ve arrived in San Miguel de Allende, you’ll want to navigate the city with ease to make the most of your trip. Fortunately, getting around is relatively straightforward, with several options readily available for solo and group travelers alike.

In San Miguel de Allende, you can opt to walk, which gives you the opportunity to see the city’s picturesque and iconic landmarks at your own pace. Note, however, that you can walk your way across the entire core of the city center in about 25 minutes.

You can also use bikes, which can be rented out from multiple shops in the city and are valuable when it comes to navigating San Miguel de Allende’s hilly terrain.

Ride sharing services and the plethora of taxis are another option in San Miguel de Allende. Both are convenient and reliable ways to get around town.

Those who are planning to explore areas outside of San Miguel de Allende, will do well to check out services like Uber or local tour guides who can plan an entire day’s itinerary for you, taking visitors to nearby attractions and neighborhoods while providing a verbal history of the region along the way.

Be mindful

In general, San Miguel de Allende is a safe location for travelers. However, it’s best to be mindful, especially if you plan to visit crowded areas. When you’re out in public, make sure your cash, cards, papers, and other valuables are securely zipped, pocketed, or otherwise concealed.


House exterior

SOLD in SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO. Inquire here for more homes for sale.

Enjoying San Miguel de Allende festivals is easy when you have your own property in the area. If this is something you’re keen on doing, make sure to work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel.

We are the only direct US franchise of the prestigious brokerage Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in San Miguel, and we are experts in high-end real estate properties and luxury homes in San Miguel de Allende. Our listings at the moment consist of in-demand properties, including estates, single-family homes, and condos.

Whether you want to buy a vacation home, invest in a rental property, or simply want to diversify your real estate portfolio, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel team will be there to guide and assist you every step of the way.

Interested in checking out homes for sale while you’re in town to experience the best San Miguel de Allende festivals? Call us at +52.415.154.4971 or contact us here. You can also email Broker Greg Gunter or Broker Alma Cecilia Ramirez to schedule a consultation.