I spent my University years and my first 8 working years in a magical place called Guanajuato. The state capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guanajuato began as a silver mining town and has developed into a national treasure, a place where old world charm, culture, history and academia meet the arts, night life, and architecture.
Every October, Guanajuato´s great International Cervantino Festival arrives. This year, from October 12th to the 30th, the arts take to the streets in one of the richest, most beautiful arts festivals on the Continent. The Guests of Honor for 2011 are Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Méxican State of Nayarit. The festival includes opera, dance, music of many genres, theater, and street activities including activities for kids.
Check the calendar of events here at the official website to find out about shows, venues, and tickets.
Here are a few tips to help make your trip to Cervantino most satisfying. Guanajuato is small enough that walking is usually the best way to explore it. Taxis and buses are also available, however, walking is often faster and more direct.
The festival brings crowds, so weekdays are easier for getting around and tickets for the shows may be cheaper Monday through Thursday. If you are traveling from overseas, I recommend flying to Aeropuerto del Bajío, which is just 20 minutes taxi ride from the City of Guanajuato.
The Festival is very popular, hotels can fill up rapidly, especially on weekends. You may need to make reservations 6 months in advance for the most central hotels. If you cannot find accommodations in the city, look for them in other cities like Silao, León, and San Miguel de Allende.
For first time Cervantino attendees, I highly recommend getting tickets to the “Entremeses Cervantinos” (Cervantino Appetizers) This is the show that started it all, it is quirky, hilarious and colorful, even if you don’t speak Spanish.
Kids will enjoy running in the Jardín Unión Gazebo, listening to mariachis or watching street performers of all types in the plaza or in front of Teatro Juárez. Year round, I recommend the callejoneada performed by the estudiantina, an entertaining musical and storytelling trip through the streets of Guanajuato.
Of course one of my favorites activities is sitting in a café and enjoying an agua fresca, capucchino, or pastel de tres leches while people watching, make sure to do that. A good spot is Café Valadez, right in front of Teatro Juárez. You can follow the festival on twitter, but whatever you do, add this one to your bucket list and try to go to the Cervantino Festival at least once in your life.