The Christmas countdown has begun. Decorations are up all across Mexico City, streets and markets are more crowded than usual and visitors to the zócalo can pose for photos in front of a 50-meter-tall Christmas tree and go ice skating outdoors, despite the fact that weather during the day is still averaging around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s all part of the annual Christmas program of events known as the “Magia de la Navidad,” or the Magic of Christmas that kicked-off earlier this month, and there’s no doubt that it’s going to be another jam-packed month of celebrations in the capital. This year pop star Britney Spears added to the holiday excitement with a free outdoor concert on December 4th at the Monumento de la Revolucion in the Plaza de la Republica.
The “Magia de la Navidad” program of events makes up just a small part of all that there is to see and do during the Christmas season in Mexico City. There are holiday markets, traditional food and drink and of course, fiestas.
The Christmas celebrations really start to get underway on December 12th with the Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe in honor of Mexico’s patron saint Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Our Lady of Guadalupe. During the festival there’s a mass pilgrimage to Mexico City’s Basilica de Guadalupe, which is known for being one of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world, and I’m especially excited because this is the first year that I’m planning to head over and check it out.
The celebration in honor of the Virgin actually marks the unofficial start to the Christmas season in Mexico, whereas the official start of the season takes place a few days later on December 16th with the first of las posadas, or “the inns,” a series of neighborhood candlelit processions and parties that take place during the nine evenings leading up to and including Christmas Eve. The season doesn’t officially come to an end until January 6th with the celebration of Día de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day.
If you’ve booked flights to Mexico City during the month of December you’ll get the chance to take part in all of the holiday excitement. International flights arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport.