Starting Monday, thousands will flock to Mexico’s second-largest city to celebrate a national and cultural treasure: Mariachi music. At the International Mariachi Festival, celebrated every year at the opening of Mexico’s el mes de la patria (homeland month), party-goers will hear some of the art’s most famous players, as well as participate in tequila tastings, gala nights, and a Mariachi-inspired art show.
Mariachi combines traditional Mexican musical styles like son jaliscience and son jarocho with more modern huapangos, baladas, and polkas, calling upon five-string guitars, violins, trumpets, and even harps to make the magic happen.
Performances (and competitions) are spread throughout the city of Guadalajara and spill out onto the streets and into the aptly named Plaza de los Mariachis. Highlights include a pairing between renowned Mariachi bands (like Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan or Los Camperos de Nati Cano) with the Guadalajara Symphony. There’s also a grand parade comprised of Mariachi in full silver-dressed garb and wide-brimmed sombrero; dancers in traditional dress; charros on horseback; and much more.
Of course, when not participating in the themed festivities, visitors can take a train to a town whose very name can give anyone flashbacks to their college years: Tequila. The landscape surrounding Guadalajara is dotted with the blue agave plants that make the liquor.
If you can’t make it to Guadalajara’s Mariachi Festival, it’s northern neighbor, Baja California, is hosting its sixth annual Mariachi & Folklórico Festival from September 30 to October 3. The proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito.