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Mexico City - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Mexico City

Nut seller sifting his wares, Mercado La Merced

When to Go to Mexico City

Mexico City's climate is temperate year round, though it can get a little nippy at night from November to February. During this period, because of thermal inversion, air pollution is often at its heaviest. You can generally count on April for ubiquitous lilac-colored jacaranda blossoms coupled with nice temperatures. Though the city will sweep you up at any time of the year, the holiday periods of Semana Santa and Christmas to New Year's are particularly jovial, busy times to visit. Many Mexicans do their holidaying in July or August.

Mexico City Events

Public Holidays: New Year's Day (1 January), Constitution Day (February 5), Day of the Flag (24 February), Anniversary of Benito Juárez's birth (21 March), Good Friday (March/April), Easter Sunday, Labour Day (1 May), 1862 Victory Celebration (May 5), Día de la Independencia (16 September), Día de la Raza (12 October), Día de la Revolución (20 November), Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (December 12), Día de Navidad (December 25).

Between Christmas and Día de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings' Day or Epiphany) on 6 January, Santa Clauses around Alameda Central are replaced by the Three Kings. Kids get loads of gifts, and the streets are aflutter with shopping stalls. In March, the plazas, palaces and theaters around the city are taken over by the three-week Festival del Centro Histórico, a program of classical and popular music, dance and cultural events. Semana Santa, Holy Week, starts on Palm Sunday, and closures are usually from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

On Labor Day, Día del Trabajo, there is a big unionists' gathering in the Zócalo in the morning, as well as parades around the city, and 5 May, Cinco de Mayo marks the anniversary of Mexico's 1862 victory over the French. Día de la Independencia (16 September), commemorates the start of Mexico's war for independence from Spain, and on its eve, thousands of people gather in Zócalo to hear the president recite a version of the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores). Mexico's most characteristic fiesta by far, though, is Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead; a happy atmosphere prevails as families build alters in their homes and visit graveyards to commune with the dearly departed, bearing garlands, gifts and food. 12 December is another big day on the Mexican calendar, celebrating the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the country's major religious icon and Mexico's national patron. Groups of brightly costumed indigenous dancers and musicians perform on the basilica's large plaza for two days.

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