Ranking amongst the world's best parties, Oaxaca's Guelaguetza is an unmissable event!
History of the Guelaguetza: Long before the colonial era began Oaxaqueños celebrated the fiestas of Lunes del Cerro at the Cerro de la Bella Vista (now known as Cerro del Fortín) in honour of Centeól, the goddess of corn. However, her altar was destroyed and the fiestas suppressed during the Spanish reign. After Independence they were back with avengeance and had come to signify even more to the people of Oaxaca.
In 1932 the first Guelaguetza was introduced in celebration of Oaxaca city's 400th birthday, the aim being to celebrate the multifarious indigenous cultures of the city. Special dances and music was performed that captured into the hearts and souls of the citizens of Oaxaca. The people incorporated the dances into the Cerro del Fortín and by 1953 the two fiestas had grown together to produce a spectacular party.
What Happens? Music, dancing, street processions with lanterns, elaborate costumes, traditional food and drink, plays, concerts and general merrymaking.
Where? The Auditorio de Guelaguetza (Culture outside Oaxaca City Centre) was opened in 1974 made a real focal point for the festivities. It seats 11,400 spectators and is where the main performances take place. However, there is a fiesta feeling all over the city and tons of other activites going on too - be sure to check what's on and when at the tourist office or visit www.aoaxaca.com/guelaguetza.
When? This party extravaganza takes places on the two Mondays following July 16th. If you can't catch the real thing then make sure you watch a renactment at the Casa de Cantera (see Oaxaca Nightlife for more information) - not quite the real deal, but so much better than nothing at all!