Walk around almost any town or city in Mexico during the month of September and you’ll see streets, town squares, schools, shops, and commercial centers being dressed in patriotic decorations showing-off a display of reds, whites, and greens— Mexico’s official colors.
Ambulant vendors selling Mexican flags are everywhere during the first half of September. If you’re looking for a Mexican flag, this is the easiest time of year to acquire one, as almost every major street corner has someone selling them, from the small plastic flags which attach to a car or window, to colossal flags of monumental proportions—and everything in between.
September 16th is Mexico’s official Independence Day and a national holiday. On the night of September 15th, state officials in towns and cities across the country re-enact Miguel Hidalgo’s pre-dawn grito de independencia (cry of independence), which originally took place in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo, near San Miguel de Allende, in 1810. The festivities which take place to celebrate the country’s independence are some of the liveliest you’ll experience in Mexico.
The most popular provincial cities to attend for Independence Day celebrations are San Miguel de Allende and nearby Dolores Hidalgo—the ‘cradle towns’ of the independence movement. Other popular provincial cities where lively celebrations take place include Guanajuato, Querétaro, Oaxaca, and Puebla, although celebrations are national and every town and city will mark the occasion in its town square.
In Mexico City, the capital’s zócalo (main square) swells with thousands of people who attend to hear the country’s President re-enact the grito from the balcony of the National Palace. If you want to experience the atmosphere of Independence Day celebrations in downtown Mexico City on the night of the 15th, it’s advisable to arrive early, and use the capital’s Metro system to get there and away. (Line 2 of the Metro takes you to the heart of the city: alight at the station named ‘Zocalo’ and you’ll step-up and out from there on to the city’s main square.)
Traditionally, egg-shells filled with confetti are thrown and crushed on people during the celebrations, so we also recommend that leave your ‘Sunday best’ clothes in the wardrobe if you attend a local fiesta—at the town square, or elsewhere.
Travel Tips for Independence Day Celebrations
In 2019, September 15th and 16th fall on a Sunday and Monday, which means that the ‘holiday weekend’ will be especially busy on the roads, at bus stations, and airports across the country. Be sure to build-in some additional travel time for your plans.
If you’re planning to travel within Mexico over the independence day holiday period, some forward-planning will be required. Bus travel is especially popular with Mexicans at this time, so expect bus stations and bus services to be full; it’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance from the bus station, by telephone, or online.
If you are driving to your destination from the capital, take note that the cardinal roads leading in/out of Mexico City—Cuernavaca (south), Querétaro (north), Puebla (southeast), and Toluca (west)—will be heavy and slow for road trippers at the start of the holiday period, and again on the afternoon when people return.
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