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Signature Mexico: Day of the Dead

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This eventful short holiday invites you to observe and even participate in the colourful rituals of the Day of the Dead, a festivity which is enthusiastically embraced in Mexico. You spend some time in Mexico City before moving on to Oaxaca which, with its airy patios and graceful arcades, is famed for its colourful market, serapes, crafts and dances. The celebrations are particularly animated in this region.   

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) involves a traditional ritual, both vivacious and contemplative, during which Mexicans pray for and remember friends or family members who have passed away and assist them on their spiritual journey.

Death is not to be feared: this is a celebration of the lives of those who have died. The so-called Day of the Dead – actually three days – gets under way on Halloween, 31 October and extends into 1-2 November, coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the Catholic calendar. Exuberant parades with rumbustious music, where participants wear ghoulish costumes and skull-masks in vibrant colours take place alongside calmer, quieter celebrations featuring anecdotes, many amusing, about the lives of the departed. You’ll get to know local families and share their experiences.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

28 Oct: Arrive Mexico City.

Day 2

29 Oct: Guided city tour and Museum of Anthropology.

Day 3

30 Oct: Fly to Oaxaca: explore Tlacolula market, Teotitlan, Santo Domingo Tomaltepec.

Day 4

31 Oct: Explore Abastos market; visit a traditional wake.

Day 5

1 Nov: Day of the Innocents. Soledad Etla Valley and Comparsa Parade.

Day 6

Nov 2: Day of the Dead. Valley of Ocotlan, Coyotepec and Tilcajete.

Day 7

3 Nov: Fly to Mexico City to connect with international flight home.

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Places visited on this holiday

Signature Mexico: Day of the Dead

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Mexico City
Mexico City Street

It’s mind-bogglingly huge. Seen from the air, Mexico City, embracing over 20 million people, is a drained lake full of urban sprawl, located at 2,250m. But at ground level it exposes all the different aspects of its centuries of history dating back to the Aztecs: wander the secretive lanes around the city’s heart, the vast zócalo, dominated by its monumental cathedral; turn off a 4-lane highway into the arty colonial quarter of Coyoacán; or take a bus past silvery sky-scrapers down the noble Paseo Reforma – inspired by the Champs Elysées - to shady Chapultepec Park, to appreciate the contrasts. A metropolis with a burgeoning economy, it’s a city that demands attention, and admiration.

When to go
It’s a year-round destination. Most rain falls between Jun and Sep.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency

Mexican peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. You may have ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK, and amounts are limited to about £100.

Time difference

GMT -6 hours.  

Combines with

A visit to almost anywhere else in Mexico: the domestic flight network is comprehensive and roads are good. Close to the city you might visit the silverwork town of Taxco (170 kms); a bit further afield but accessible by car is a necklet of divine colonial towns, including the artists’ Mecca San Miguel de Allende (234 kms).

Getting there

There are direct flights from London taking around 12 hours.

Key events
Independence Day, 16 Sept, celebrations throughout the city
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe), 12 Dec: Not a public holiday, but it is Mexico's biggest religious festival of the year. The day is celebrated with a mass ceremony and a traditional fair in her honour. The day is packed with free concerts on the plaza of Basilica de Guadalupe, in a suburb of the city. 
Day of the Dead, Nov 1st - 2nd, celebrated throughout the country.

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Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a charming city with a long and eventful history. Separated from Mexico City to the north by rugged mountains and dotted with small weaving and craft villages, the isolated region has ploughed its own furrow, forging its own distinctive identity. Known as Mexico’s artistic centre, Oaxaca embodies both indigenous and colonial features, the markets, artisan workshops, rituals and multiple fiestas reflecting the native culture while the baroque architecture, plazas and museums bear witness to the Spanish influence. The Zapotec and Mixtec people’s ancient sites at Monte Albán, Yagul and Mitla are as impressive as the Mayan ruins in the south and east.

When to go

The highland town has a pleasant climate with temperatures ranging from the low to the high 20s Celsius throughout the year. Maximum sunshine hours Jan-Mar. Most rain falls Jun-Sept.  

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Mexican peso. Notes can be withdrawn from several ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. You may have ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK, and amounts are lower than permitted in the UK. Money exchanges (casas de cambio) exchange dollars cash; rates for Euros and sterling are low.

Time difference

GMT -6 hrs.  

Combines with

The beach resorts and hotels at Huatulco (by the dramatic, literally breath-taking drive on Highway 175, 3.5hrs or 35mins by air) and Puerto Escondido, both on the Pacific coast (38mins by air).

Getting there

Fly from Mexico City, 1.5 hrs. There is an excellent highway now connecting the two cities, it takes 5hrs to cover the 500km.

Key events
Guelaguetza! Two Mondays in Jul. Extravagant Oaxacan folk dance fiesta taking place in the amphitheatre. Accompanied with processions and fireworks.
Virgen de Carmen, 16 Jul. Processions and fireworks
Day of the Dead,  1-2 Nov. Celebrated throughout the country. Music and dance ceremonies at the cemetery; sand sculptures at the cathedral.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe), 12 Dec. Not a public holiday, but it is Mexico's biggest religious festival of the year.
Christmas events: 16-25 Dec. Nightly nativity plays, processions, fireworks, traditional dancing.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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