It’s noon on the first Friday in April and I’m just back from an early morning trip downtown in Guanajuato, Mexico. I was glad to be out in the cool of the morning from 8 to 10am before the temperature began climbing. The occasion? El Viernes de Dolores, the morning celebrating the Virgin’s Tears, a holiday especially revered by Guanajuato’s miners but celebrated by all. When I got to the Jardin (the most social of the plazas) The State Band was already seated in the kiosk playing Sobre Las Olas by the Mexican composer Juventino Rosas. I recognized it right away as “When You’re in Love, It’s the Loveliest Night in the Year.”
Love, on El Festival de Delores that’s what Guanajuato was all about the whole night before for the young people. The following morning, older, favored people were invited to dine with the Governor at outside the Hotel Santa Fe. Also to be seen as they savored an elegant breakfast beginning with a plate of sliced kiwi, starfruit, salmon and grapes. For me, the morning’s highlight came when I was presented with a longstemmed yellow rose and carnation as I walked around the Jardin along with hundreds of others.
Clearly, April before and during Holy Week (Semana Santa) is a fine time to visit Guanajuato. Morning and evening are delightful, the days are tolerable and the lavender jacaranda trees are still blooming. Besides, the University brings a visiting cultural event to town every night.
Before I go on to other times when Guanajuato is especially vibrant, I’ll offer my opinion on the Worst Months to visit the city – late November, all of December and maybe the first weeks of January. Up here at 7000 feet, winter is cold enough that unless you have a heater in the room where you’re staying, you’re likely to shiver.You’ll need to load up your pack or suitcase with warm clothes for sure. Besides, Christmas is mainly a family holiday here. City life is almost comatose.The university shuts down for nearly all of January. Cultural life is at a standstill. I guess the Mummies Museum is still open.
I think you get the picture. Now back to one person’s pick of the Best Months, in chronological order:
FEBRUARY: The university is back in session and Guanajuato comes to life in every way as the weather begins to warm
MARCH: for the jacarandas in bloom, temperate weather and the generous bouquet of cultural activity (oh, those hard decisions)
APRIL: for the events surrounding Easter, starting with El Viernes de Dolores, culminating in a venerable procession, and each night featuring a cultural event brought by the University’s Cultural Festival
MAY: One of the less touristed months, perhaps an attraction September is similar.
JUNE: The time of San Juan Days, a popular festival when visitors can see Guanajuato people of all classes out enjoying themselves near the Presa (Reservoir) de la Olla and other parts of town
JULY If you’re a film buff, check the internet for the exact dates of the Festival de Cortometraje (The Short Film Festival) that takes place here and in San Miguel de Allende for a week. This is a favorite of young people from around the country who come, soak in the films, and get into very little trouble. Early in the month comes the popular festival of the Opening of the Presa de la Olla, also sure to be accompanied by the band playing “Over the Waves.”
AUGUST: As in July, Guanajuaato may be rainy in the late afternoon. The city cools down and a visit then can be both tranquil and busy..
OCTOBER: For 17 days, the International Cervantino Festival features top quality music, drama and dance from all the continents (the mix varies with the year) affording one of the Western hemisphere’s best opportunities to indulge in High and Popular culture. Prices range from free to expensive. Great Britain is the invited country for 2006 is Great Britain, meaning a dozen events will be in English.. Arrange for your accommodations well ahead of time.
In the eight years I have known Guanajuato, each year’s weather has been different. Use guidebook information as an approximation, not a promise. But the round of the year in our city is predictable. Whether you sample the life her at different times or keep coming back at a favorite season, the streets and lanes, the hillsides of colorfully painted houses, the fruit and vegetable vendors, music and more music await you.