By Cristina Alonso
December 10, 2014
age fotostock / Alamy

Winter is a good time to visit Mexico City, in great part thanks to the mild cold—temperatures rarely go lower than 40 degrees—but also because of the great holiday spirit that takes over the city. If you walk or drive by any residential neighborhood, you’ll most likely see a Christmas tree lit up inside many houses and apartments, and when you visit a restaurant or store, it will probably be decorated with tinsel and be playing traditional holiday music (we admit that the tunes may get annoying after a while, but let’s keep the Christmas cheer up, shall we?). The fact is, most of us in the city are very into the holidays, so join the fun at one of these five activities, and don’t forget to indulge in some end-of-year treats, too—hot fruit punch, cod stew, rosca de reyes—because they’re one of the main reasons we get so excited.

Alameda Central

Every year, thousands of excited kids (and let’s face it, excited parents, too) brave the cold and the crowds to hang out with Santa at this park in the heart of the city. Check out the fun-fair style rides and food stands, where you can much on everything from hot coffee to pecan loaf to pizza.

“Snow” in Antara Fashion Hall

This Polanco mall isn’t just perfect for doing some holiday shopping—Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Crate & Barrel—it also becomes a Winter Wonderland every December, with a huge Christmas tree, “snow storms” every evening, and visits from Santa and the Three Wise Men, who are more than happy to pose for photos.

The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky’s classic delights Mexican audiences every winter, taking over the Auditorio Nacional for a few weeks of the holiday season. The country’s National Dance Company is in charge of bringing the story of little Clara and her nutcracker to life. Make sure to book your tickets a few months in advance as they sell out quickly.

Nochebuenas in Xochimilco

Decorating your house with poinsettias—or “nochebuenas,” as we call them over here—is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Head to Xochimilco, where they locally grow and sell thousands and thousands of these beautiful crimson flowers, starting at as little as two dollars per pot.

Lights at Zócalo

Every winter for the past five decades, the city’s main square gets lit up with colorful mosaics made up of thousands of lightbulbs. Candles, flowers, birds and other festive shapes take over the Zócalo’s buildings, surrounding the massive Christmas tree in the middle of the plaza and giving a festive mood to the area.