It’s October, the weather is changing and the many festivals in Mexico are either underway or soon to come, including the wonderful Festival Internacional Cervantino, which has been held annually in Guanajuato for over six decades.
The Festival Internacional Cervantino, also known as El Cervantino, began the 11th of October and ends on the 29th. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend this festival or visit this unique city, we really recommend it. Any time of the year is a good time to go to Guanajuato.
But before we tell you about El Cervantino, we would like you to know a little about the city where this famous festival takes place.
The city of Guanajuato, founded in 1548, was one of the most important mining centers of New Spain and became one of the pivotal centers of resistance in the fight for the Independence of Mexico in the early 19th century.
The wealth accumulated by the nearby silver mines created a city of great beauty and architectural significance. In 1988, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Guanajuato a World Heritage Site. Later, in 2005, UNESCO named Guanajuato the Cervantine Capital of America.
So how did El Cervantino come about? In 1953, Enrique Ruelas Barajas, the founder of the Cervantino Festival, directed a tribute to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. This tribute consisted of short plays by Miguel de Cervantes called the Entremeses Cervantinos and were followed by fiestas and a banquet. Many national artists performed the plays in the plazas and the streets of Guanajuato as church bells chimed and the lights of the festival illuminated magically the narrow streets and romantic corners of the city.
This first festival was such a success that it was repeated for 20 years. By 1972, the festival became international in scope as artists from other countries began performing. El Cervantino now is Latin America’s largest International artistic and cultural event and one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world. It fills nearly 50 theaters, plazas and other venues in and near Guanajuato.
The festival also honors Diego Riviera, Mexico’s great muralist. Artists from all over the world gather to put on various events featuring opera, academic conferences, theater, film screenings, dance recitals, concerts and art exhibitions. In additon, the festival features various crafts that are native to the city such as leather products, hand-made pottery and ceramics and wood-crafted items, such as furniture.
Over the years there have been memorable performances by Martha Graham, Leonard Bernstein, Ella Fitzgerald, Philip Glass, Pina Bausch, Ute Lemper, Goran Bregovic and the Bolshoi Ballet. More than 110,000 performers and creators have participated in El Cervantino.
You can learn more about Guanajuato by reading our Expats In Mexico Guanajuato city profile.