Take a Christmas break in Mexico City

Christmas in Mexico City

A lot of travellers from Canada and the United States head to Mexico over the Christmas holidays for some time on the beach, but if you’re looking for something different, why not try spending some of your holiday in Mexico City as well?

There are plenty of direct flights to Mexican sun destinations, but before you book, consider connecting through the national capital and making a stopover there to discover the many events that are planned around Christmas and New Year’s Day.

In a virtual press conference this week,  Marcela Ortíz, the Deputy Director of Information and Digital Content, of the Ministry of Tourism, Mexico City, outlined some highlights of the 264 events and activities that visitors can experience if they visit during the holidays this year.

Among them is one of Mexico’s great Christmas traditions, the posada. It’s a community celebration that features a symbolic procession that re-enacts the journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for a place to stay. Participants carry candles and sing Christmas songs as they make a pilgrimage to a local home where they will consume traditional foods and drink and break open  star-shaped, seven-spiked piñatas that are emblematic this time of year. Ortíz said there will be posadas and pilgrimages from December 16 to 23 in each of the 16 neighborhoods that make up Mexico City.

Another religious occasion that falls at this time of year is when Christians come to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe at La Basílica. An eye-popping six million parishioners are expected to flock to the world’s most-visited Marian church on and around December 12.

Another symbol of Christmas that has its origins in Mexico and Central America is the poinsettia flower. Visitors will get their fill of these lovely red and green plants on Paseo de la Reforma, the emblematic avenue of Mexico City, where the Christmas Eve Flower Festival will take place.

Also on Reforma, all 32 States of Mexico will host a Christmas Tourism Festival from December 12 to 17 where visitors and Chilangos alike can sample the crafts and cuisines from the country’s many diverse regions.

Ortíz said that the city’s neighbourhoods that are the most popular with tourists like Santa Fe, Paseo de la Reforma, Chapultepec, Zócalo, the Monument to the Revolution, Coyoacán, San Ángel and the Basilica, as well as Xochimilco and Polanco all have Christmas activities to seek out and are listed on their website at https://cartelera.cdmx.gob.mx.

Among the events she recommends includes, “Christmas in Mexico,” a show that will be put on by the Amalia Hernández Folkloric Ballet will perform at the Casitllo de Chapultepec. There’s also the The Christmas Craft Festival at the Casa del Risco Museum and the Coffee and Chocolate Festival at the Palacio de Minería.

In the heart of the Historic Center, Ortíz  added that visitors can enjoy the Verbena del Zócalo, with its Christmas fair and its spectacular and colourful Christmas lighting; live music and pastorelas, which will be free. It will start mid-December and run until the first days of January 2024, from Monday to Sunday..

Finally, to end the year, the countdown will be celebrated in a Time-Square style, but with Latin flare, at the Ángel de la Independencia, which includes a must-see New Year’s Eve concert.

8 exciting destinations to experience October’s ‘Great American Eclipse’

Solar eclipses are such special events that umbraphiles travel the world to experience them. This October 14, they’ll gather across the United States and parts of South and Central America for what has been dubbed ‘The Great American Eclipse.’ 

An eclipse happens when the moon passes in front of the sun and casts a shadow on the Earth, the umbra. The width of this shadow is very small, between only 100 and 160 kilometres wide, and has the effect of plunging the area into near total darkness for about six to seven minutes.

Because the moon is too far away from the Earth to completely block the sun this October observers will instead see a ring of fire around the moon making it an annular eclipse instead of a total eclipse.

Even though solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth on average every 18 months, large portions are often only visible at sea or remote parts of the planet and it can be anywhere from 360 to 410 years before they return to the same spot which is why eclipse chasers are so excited by this year’s event.

If you’re considering travelling to experience this spectacular astronomical happening, here are some destinations to consider seeing it. Just hope it’s not a cloudy day when you are there!

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, TexasWhile the eclipse’s path of totality travels from the northwestern United States in an arcing line towards the southwest, it doesn’t pass through that many large cities. One it does touch is San Antonio, a fun and diverse destination that features such attractions as the historic Alamo, its beautiful River Walk along the San Antonio River and an exemplary culinary scene where you can fill up on delicious Tex-Mex dishes. And if you miss this year’s eclipse, amazingly, the city will be in the path of a total solar eclipse less than a year later on April 8, 2024.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New MexicoAnother major city to consider witnessing this year’s event is Albuquerque. It also bills itself as the hot air ballooning capital of the world and this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta also happens to take place during the eclipse. Even if you’re too late to book a flight in a balloon that day, it would still be an amazing sight to see the sky filled with balloons with a ring of fire in the background! As an added bonus, Albuquerque is a pretty cool place to visit even when eclipses aren’t happening.

Eugene, Oregon

Eugene, OregonFor Canadians in the western part of the country looking for an accessible destination to observe the eclipse, the beautiful city of Eugene fits the bill perfectly. Afterwards, you can enjoy walks along the scenic Willamette River or drive to the stunning Oregon coast for some time on the beach. It’s also a haven for the arts so check out its many museums, galleries and abundant street art and don’t forget the many live theatre options available. Oh, yes, it’s also a famous spot for craft beer thanks to the hops that grow abundantly in the region.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National ParkWind, water and snow have carved out a fantasy land of red rock hoodoos, natural stone bridges and rainbow-hued cliffs in Bryce Canyon National Park that are a photographer’s dream. As the sun rises and sets, the changing light creates a symphony of colour and shadow on the rock formations which will be particularly amazing on the day of the eclipse which will pass over this incredible landscape. 

Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell, New MexicoRoswell is famous for being the site of a supposed UFO crash in 1947 and the town has embraced its alien legacy making it a fitting place to observe October’s amazing astronomical event. While you are there, check out the International UFO Museum and Research Center to learn more about the Roswell Incident and other UFO phenomena. Roswell’s main street really leans into the town’s extraterrestrial obsession so you can pose with alien statues, murals and street lamps, or visit one of the many alien-themed shops, restaurants and attractions. 

Campeche, Mexico

Calakmul pyramid, MexicoIn Mexico’s Yucatan state, sits the beautiful coastal city of Campeche which still retains the walls and fortifications that were built to protect it from pirate attacks. A great place to observe the eclipse would be nearby Calakmul, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the capital of a powerful Maya kingdom. It has two gigantic pyramids that rise above the jungle canopy, offering stunning views of the surrounding biosphere reserve. The Mayans were obsessed with calendars and time, making this an ideal place to see such an event.

Cali, Colombia

Cali, ColombiaSavvy travellers are discovering the incredible destination of Colombia. This South American nation offers a vast diversity of gorgeous landscapes and vibrant cities to explore. One of those cities is Cali, which also claims the title of salsa capital of the world. After you watch the eclipse, you can can learn to salsa, discover its rich historical district or sample some of the fantastic cuisine that can be had there. The people of Cali are known for their warmth and hospitality so you can be sure that the eclipse will be an occasion for a big party.

WARNING:  It is never safe to look directly at an eclipse without proper eye protection. Follow these instructions from NASA on how to do it safely and be aware that the precautions for an annular and a total eclipse are different.

Five things not to miss in Puebla, Mexico for Cinco de Mayo (or any other day)

Cholula, Mexico

Cinco de Mayo is not just a day to score cheap tacos and margaritas. It commemorates a military victory over the French army during the Franco-Mexican war in Puebla in 1862. If you’re in Puebla, a 90-minute drive from Mexico City, on May 5, you’ll be swept up by the annual re-enactment, grand parade and festive concerts.

1) The 5 de Mayo memorial and museum

In the middle of a busy throughway on a hill overlooking the city sits a modernist stone monument decorated with bronze sculptures to memorialize the site where General Ignacio Zaragoz defeated the French at the famous battle of Puebla. While it’s an impressive sight, especially lit up at night, the best way to truly learn how the Mexican army won the day on May 5, 1862 is to visit the nearby twin forts of Loreto and Guadalupe.

Also in the area is an interactive museum that uses touch screens, 3D projections and downloadable content to transport visitors back in time to this pivotal clash that has become a symbol of Mexican defiance.

Read the rest of the story in the Vancouver Sun.

Travellers have an appetite for Mexico

MEXICO CITY — “You weren’t expecting a place like this in the ‘Third World’,” says my guide with tongue firmly planted in cheek as we eat dinner at Sud 777, a haute-cuisine restaurant in Mexico’s capital that has been voted not only one of the Top 50 restaurants in Latin America, but one of the best of the world

My dining companion isn’t just any guide, either. Introducing me to the city’s food scene is Cecilia Núñez, the well-travelled editor of Food and Travel Mexico, the Spanish-language edition of the British magazine that explores culinary trends happening in every corner of the world. She also appears regularly on radio in Mexico and was a judge for Top Chef México.

Cecilia thinks too many visitors have stereotyped views of her country and its food and wants me to know that it’s even more rich and varied than I can imagine. It is my first night on my first visit to Mexico City and Cecilia has

driven me through the sprawling city’s notorious traffic to this restaurant which lies in Jardines del Pedregal, an affluent and leafy southern neighbourhood that is a good distance from downtown.

On the way, Cecilia explains to me that the food scene in Mexico is a bit like the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán, for which the city is famous. On the top, there are fine-dining establishments like Sud 777, in the middle are everyday restaurants serving every type of cuisine you can think of and at the base are the street food vendors and market stalls that are ubiquitous throughout the country.

Read the rest of the story on TraveLife.ca.