You Just Cannot Miss Mexico's Vibrant Cervantino Festival!

Although it's not widely known in the United States, Mexico's annual Cervantino Festival is a great cultural event, and a wonderful tourist destination for people of all ages, from all cultures, and on any budget.
The International Cervantino Festival (Spanish: Festival Internacional Cervantino) is held every year in the city of Guanajuato, Mexico. The festival, which began in 1972, is loosely dedicated to the memory of Miguel de Cervantes, author of the famous Spanish novel Don Quixote of La Mancha. Guanajuato has adopted Cervantes and Don Quixote as representatives of the city, and statues dedicated to the author and his creation can be found around town. The Cervantino Festival is dedicated to Cervantes in spirit, and always involves a number of events related to Don Quixote, but the festival also includes much more.

Cervantino's International Atmosphere

At its heart, Cervantino is a cultural festival. It takes place each year during October, lasting a full month. Over the course of the month, hundreds of cultural events are held in the city, ranging from plays, dances, and musical productions to lectures, art galleries, and public art displays. The diverse, international nature of the festival makes it a popular tourism destination, especially for the Spanish-speaking world. Each year, one Mexican state and one international community are invited to be guests of honor at the festival, and attention is focused on the culture of those locales.

You Don't Have to Speak Spanish

Because many of the events of Cervantino are in Spanish, the festival is not widely known in the United States and other places where Spanish is not commonly spoken. This is highly unfortunate, because the intent of the festival is, traditionally, to create an international atmosphere where people from around the world can come together and share their culture. Indeed, this is the atmosphere that prevails in Guanajuato during the month of Cervantino. Although many events are in Spanish, there are many others that require no specific language, such as visual art exhibits and musical performances. Furthermore, a few of the Spanish language performances, including plays, are subtitled in English and other languages, making the Cervantino Festival accessible to everyone.

A Great Time on Any Budget

Cervantino is consciously designed to be inclusive, and there are events to suit nearly everyone. Many of the events require tickets, which can be purchased in advance of the shows. Tickets are available online at the festival's website, and in Guanajuato at designated ticket vending locations. Tickets are generally reasonably priced, with different price levels according to various factors. Not all of Cervantino's festivities require tickets, however, and visitors can have an excellent time for absolutely no money. Art exhibits, which change periodically over the course of the festival, are often free, and there are always a few performances open to the public free of charge. The best of these are often held outdoors, either at the city's outdoor amphitheater, or in plazas and squares around town. No matter what your interests, exploring Guanajuato during the month of the festival can be an enriching, fun experience.

Plan Ahead

For those thinking of attending the next Cervantino festival, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, the festival is extremely popular throughout Mexico, and the city becomes very crowded as a result. Hotels, hostels, and other accommodations can fill up weeks or months before the festival starts. Therefore, it's crucial to book your accommodations early, otherwise you might be stuck without a place to sleep, or forced to stay in a place that doesn't suit you because all other options are full. The same goes for tickets to events. Although there are usually plenty of tickets available during the festival, some of the more popular events or famous performers tend to sell out early, so you should consider buying tickets online well in advance of your trip.

Something for Everyone

If you have heard rumors that the festival is rowdy, you may want to give it a second look. In recent years, the government of Guanajuato and the festival's organizers have been trying to cut down on the party atmosphere, placing more emphasis on the cultural and international aspects. These days, Cervantino is truly a festival for everyone. Consider making Guanajuato, Mexico your travel destination next October.
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