One of the most important characteristics of Oaxaca is that it has maintained its traditional way of living. By honouring cultural traditions the state has a unique and pure atmosphere. This is reflected in the way the people think, the influence of religion, the many traditional celebrations, the history, the art, the famous Mexican cuisine, and the indigenous languages that are still spoken in many villages. Oaxaca’s richness of culture is a result of so many different ethnic groups that have lived and still live there.
Because of Oaxaca’s depth of culture many festivals are still honoured and celebrated. At least once a year every village has its own celebration with dancing, traditions, processions, and, of course, lots of food and drinks. Every week weddings, baptisms, 15 years celebrations for young ladies, and birthdays are celebrated, often for 400 persons or more! Two important festivals in Oaxaca are: ‘The Day of the Dead´ and the ´Guelaguetza´.
Two weeks every year in July Oaxaca attracts people from all over the world to celebrate the Guelaguetza. The Guelaguetza is a big traditional festival that is celebrated only in the state of Oaxaca. Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word for ‘gift’ or ‘offer’ that emphasizes the balance of receiving and giving. The Zapotecs celebrated this by dancing and giving their products to other regions. Today, during these two weeks, many people from villages present their dances to others. This is a beautiful festival experience. On the two Mondays within these two weeks, four special performances are given in the city auditorium in which dances from the eight regions within Oaxaca are performed. This dance spectacular takes three hours. The rest of the days are filled with many processions and shows within the city and in the villages around Oaxaca. This is the high season of Oaxaca and many Mexicans and foreigners come to experience the Guelaguetza.
When? : Last two weeks of July (two Mondays after the 16th of July, except if the first Monday falls on the 18th).
With this travel component,´Festivals in Oaxaca City – Guelaguetza´, we take you to the festivals, but, especially, we let you experience the festivals in the way the local people experience them. We will visit small villages around Oaxaca where the real traditions are still being honoured.
Oaxaca Festival Guelaguetza 4 days/nights
Day 1: Arrival Oaxaca
Day 2: Oaxaca-city and representation Donaji
On the second day there is a three-hour guided tour of Oaxaca City. Your guide will show you the highlights of the city and tell you all about Oaxaca and its culture. You will taste some of Oaxaca´s refreshments like chocolate, fruit-waters, mole, etc. After the tour you can enjoy the atmosphere of the city on your own time. In these Guelaguetza weeks many processions and shows are given in the streets.
In the evening you will go to a special show: a representation of the Legend of Donají. It is a beautiful love story about a dangerous love of a Mixtec prince and a Zapotec princess. The show is full of colour and dances.
Day 3: Guelaguetza and Feria de Mezcal
Today you will see the Guelaguetza’s official show in the auditorium of Oaxaca. This is a beautiful spectacle to experience. Every dance is different, one colourful and happy, the other quiet and telling. After every performance it is the custom of the dancers to give goods to the public like coffee, pineapples, and bread.
In the evening we will go to the ‘Feria de Mezcal´. Mezcal is the local alcoholic drink of Oaxaca. It´s made from the maguey plant and people drink it at lunch and at parties. Mezcal is getting more known internationally. At the Feria there are booths where you can taste the differences of various types of Mezcal and learn the way they are produced. Also, local music bands are playing and there are many places to eat local dishes.
Day 4: Guelaguetza in villages
In the villages around Oaxaca, the Guelaguetza is also celebrated by dance performances and shows. Every day in another village shows are given by local dancers. Today we will visit these villages, experience the local ambiance, and enjoy a typical lunch. A day to feel and experience the Guelaguetza!