Posts Tagged ‘parade’

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Cholula Town Fair Mixes Old and New Traditions

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

A vendor sells freshly baked goods at the Feria de San Pedro Cholula (2010)It all started hundreds, quite possibly thousands, of years ago in Cholula, as a means to pay homage to the serpent god Quetzalcoatl. Then Spanish settlers arrived—and turned the Cholullans’ sacred day into a virgin’s feast day (Sept. 8), in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and the ancient and colonial beliefs have fused into a single, glorious celebration.

For the past six decades, San Pedro Cholula has commemorated the occasion with a nearly three-week annual fair that fêtes the region’s trade and cultural heritage, from pre-Hispanic practices to modern-day customs. This year, the 62nd Feria de Cholula kicks off Aug. 30, with a massive inaugural dance and the crowning of a festival queen in the town’s main square. Other special events include everything from a traditional trueque—at which some 3,000 vendors are expected to trade goods—on Sept. 8 to a re-enactment of Hidalgo’s cry for independence on Sept. 15. Expect to find live entertainment, street food, sales of artisanal wares, and carnival rides, too.

“Come with your family to enjoy the most colorful and folkloric traditions of San Pedro Cholula. Music, dance, and gastronomy envelope the city for a party that’s full of magic and happiness,” officials say. “It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

All performances and ceremonies at the Feria de Cholula are free and open to the public.

Officials expect 100,000 visitors between Aug. 30 and Sept. 16. New this year: A 4,000-square-meter dome has been erected in the main square to shelter fair attendees and its 500 vendors and artisans from the elements, rain or shine. In addition, in response to the protests of animal activists, no bullfights or cockfights will be held.

To coincide with the fair, the tunnels that allow people to pass through the Great Pyramid are scheduled to reopen after nearly three years of restoration work; admission will remain free for the duration of the festival.

Schedule of Events

Here’s an overview of the fair’s various events and performances, all of which are free and open to the public.

August 30
Inaugural Dance with performances by Aarón y su Grupo Ilusión, Colmillo Norteño, Sexy Cumbia, and Junior Klan, among others, Plaza de la Concordia (main square), 3 p.m.

August 31
Lantern Procession, Convento de San Gabriel, 2 Norte #4, Colonia Centro, 10 p.m

September 1
La Sonora Dinamita and comedian Ottmar de la Rosa, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

September 2
La Perla Colombiana and Banda MB, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

September 8
Trueque, Plaza de la Concordia (main square), Calle Morelos at Calle Miguel Aleman, starting at 8 a.m.
Quema de Panzón, Iglesia de los Remedios, atop the Great Pyramid, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur, 1 p.m.
Los Terricolas and comedian Jhonatan Casanova, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

September 9
Orquesta la Típica (de Maelo Ruiz) and Orquesta Salsabor, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 5:30 p.m.

September 15
Cry of Independence (“El Grito”), Plaza de la Concordia (main square), Calle Morelos at Calle Miguel Aleman, starting at 8 p.m.

September 16
Independence Day Parade, downtown San Pedro Cholula, Calle Morelos at Calle Miguel Aleman, starting at 10 a.m.
Yaguarú and Banda los Angeles, Teatro de la Ciudad, Recinto Ferial Xelhua, 14 Poniente at 6 Sur (the plaza that’s on the exit side of the pyramid), 6 p.m.

Many taxis and intercity buses offer regular service between Puebla and Cholula, as does the Tranvía. It’s about a 30-minute ride, depending on traffic. After you arrive, you may find this tourist map helpful.

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

Additional sources: PueblaNoticias.com.mx, EstrellaDeBelem.com.mx

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What’s On in Puebla for the 150th Cinco de Mayo

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Some 8,000 military troops are expected to march in this year’s Cinco de Mayo parade.“2012 is a big year for Puebla,” The New York Times recently noted. And, as if the 150th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo — arguably the most celebrated Mexican holiday outside of Mexico — weren’t enough to draw global attention, the Popocatépetl volcano decided to send up a few massive smoke signals last week to make sure the whole world knew where to find Puebla on a map. Now that everyone’s looking, they’ll see that the city of Puebla, which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the nation’s gastronomic capital, has a lot to offer. This vibrant metropolis should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

Visitors to Puebla between now and mid-May can participate in the myriad festivities commemorating the sesquicentennial of Mexico’s historic Battle of Puebla against the French in 1862. The city and state of Puebla have invested more than $62 million (800 million pesos) in Cinco de Mayo-related public projects and special events, the latter of which include a massive civic parade, a nighttime spectacular with fireworks, scores of world-class concerts and theatrical performances, and an international mole festival featuring celebrity chefs and food experts.

Here are a few Cinco de Mayo highlights, with links to additional information and goings-on:

Cinco de Mayo Parade

Some 8,000 military troops and 6,200 students and teachers from 56 public schools statewide are expected to participate in the 2012 Cinco de Mayo parade, which will be marshaled by President Felipe Calderon and feature 34 decorative floats. Visitors who’ve attended in previous years should note that the route has been changed to inaugurate a new urban byway named for battle hero Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza. Rain or shine. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat with you.
Date and time: May 5, 11 a.m.
Admission: Free; 3,800 seats (chairs and bleachers) available to early birds.
Location: Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza, from Plaza Tolin (at the corner of Calle Ruiz Cortines) to the Loreto and Guadalupe forts.

Cinco de Mayo Spectacular

Following the parade, a nighttime show with pyrotechnics — orchestrated by Five Currents, the production company for the 2012 London Olympics — will represent Puebla and all things poblano. The three-part spectacular, hosted by former Miss Universe Ximena Navarette, will feature star-studded tributes and culminate in a massive display of fireworks, organizers say.
Date and time: May 5, 8 to 10 p.m.
Admission: 3,000 tickets were given away; the show will be broadcast nationwide by Televisa.
Location: Guadalupe Fort, Calzada Ejército de Oriente, Unidad Cívica 5 de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo Concert

Pop crooner Marc Anthony, whose soon-to-be-ex-wife Jennifer Lopez hails from Puebla —er, New— York, is scheduled to end the official Cinco de Mayo celebrations on a high note with a free concert for up to 42,600 people at the soccer stadium. Word has it that the Cinco de Mayo Spectacular (above) will be shown on big screens at the stadium.
Date and time: May 5, 10 p.m.
Admission: No charge, available at the Feria de Puebla (see next item)
Location: Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza #666, Col. Maravillas

Feria de Puebla

The 2012 Puebla State Fair comprises more than 500 commercial stands, carnival rides, a food court, a public theater, a children’s area, ice-skating shows, an exhibition of Mexican masks, and a military expo (La Gran Fuerza de México). Concerts in the Foro Artístico include Aleks Syntek (April 25), Juan Solo and Mariachi Estrella (April 27), and Kinky (May 4) and are free with fair admission. Palenque performances feature artists such as Juan Gabriel (May 3-4) and Edith Marquez (May 5) require an additional ticket purchase. Tickets to the bullfights in the Plaza de Toros (April 28, May 6) also sold separately.
Dates and times: April 13 to May 13, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Mon.-Thu.) and 11:30 p.m. (Fri.-Sun.); except May 5, when it’s closed for the Cinco de Mayo festivities at the forts.
Admission: 20 pesos (adults), 10 pesos (kids); palenque tickets cost 300-2,000 pesos, available online and at Farmacias del Ahorro outlets; bullfight tickets cost 150-800 pesos, available at Superboletos outlets.
Location: Centro Expositor, Calzada Ejércitos de Oriente, Unidad Cívica 5 de Mayo; free transportation is being provided from the zócalo, Paseo Bravo/El Gallito, Jardín de Analco, and Estadio Cuauhtémoc (with pickups every 20 to 25 minutes).

Festival Internacional de Puebla

The International Festival of Puebla is an annual cultural event that features artists, creators, and entertainers from around the world. The 2012 lineup boasts performers from two dozen countries — including Mexico, of course — who will perform on 11 public stages and in various parks and venues around the Puebla capital. Standouts include Ozomatli (April 28), Cecilia Toussaint (May 3), and Rubén Blades (May 6).
Dates and times: April 7 to May 6, mostly afternoons and evenings
Admission: Free
Location: Varies; click here for a full schedule of events

Festival Internacional del Mole

The International Mole Festival is a two-day culinary event designed to savor Puebla’s most iconic dish mole poblano and to demonstrate the region’s influence on Mexican food and gastronomy worldwide. Celebrity chefs and food experts, such as Rick Bayless, Mark Bittman, Patricia Quintana, and Marcela Valladolid, will discuss traditions, innovations, and their personal experiences related to poblano cuisine. Live simultaneous translation (in English or Spanish, depending on the speaker) will be provided via headsets. Tastings of mole prepared by traditional moleras from around the state are included in the ticket price.
Dates and times: May 2 and 3, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: 1,400 pesos for both days, available at Ticketmaster outlets in Mexico
Location: Centro de Convenciones William O. Jenkins, Blvd. Héroes del 5 de Mayo #402, Paseo de San Francisco, in the historic center of Puebla

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

Post updated May 5, 2012.

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Celebrate Carnival With a Bang in Huejotzingo

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

The annual Carnival parade in Huejotzingo, Puebla.Carnival only comes once a year, and every season since 1893, the town of Huejotzingo in Puebla has celebrated it with gusto. Thousands of locals don elaborate costumes with masks and rifles — all of which they typically make themselves, sometimes at great expense — and put on a huge parade. Some 20,000 tourists are expected to join the 2014 party, which starts Saturday (March 1) and continues through Fat Tuesday (March 4).

The roughly two-hour daily desfile commemorates three major events in local history: the first marriage of a person of Spanish descent to an indigenous Mexican; the kidnapping and rescue of the mayor’s daughter by a bandit named Agustín Lorenzo; and the famous Battle of Puebla against the French. You’re probably familiar with the latter, especially if you’ve ever celebrated Cinco de Mayo; it was the Mexicans’ brief victory here that led to the state and US holiday. To re-enact it all, various battalions—whose members represent Indians, sappers, Turks, Zacapoaxtlas, and Zouaves—parade through downtown, firing muskets loaded with gunpowder and moving to the beat of marching bands as they dance down the street. The smoke, noise, and inevitable injuries add realism to the scene. It gets so loud, many spectators wear earplugs.

“The costumes that characterize the different battalions are very luxurious and almost everyone wears a mask made of leather, with a beard and mustache of ruffled horse mane.” —Mexico Desconocido

Many parade participants wear masks and carry homemade rifles.Although Carnival is a major regional festival, last year I was among only a handful of apparent foreigners in the crowd. I went on Fat Tuesday in 2011 with eight students from the Spanish Institute of Puebla, where I studied for four months in 2007. We arrived around noon and opted to pay 15 pesos (about US$1.25) each to sit in the stands running along the main square. Aside from having to look around shade umbrellas and assorted vendors, who were selling everything from tepache (a drink made from fermented pineapple peel) to noisemakers (as if the rifles, music, and cheering weren’t sufficient), our seats were well worth the price. I even managed to dodge the assorted candy and snack cakes being thrown into the crowd during the wedding scene.

Afterward, we had dinner in a restaurant between the main square and the former monastery. Our guide, Gabriela, treated us to a bottle of the locally made hard cider, and I shared a paella with a French Canadian student named Luc. We also took a peek at the ex-Convento de San Francisco de Huejotzingo, which is perhaps the oldest in the region (built in 1525). The building is absolutely gorgeous outside, but the inside was closed to visitors during Carnaval, probably to keep gun-toting pranksters out. I’m hopeful that because Huejotzingo is close by — it’s where the Puebla airport is, about a 30-minute drive from Cholula — I’ll have a chance to go back again soon. —Rebecca Smith Hurd

Sources en español: Mexico Desconocido, Periodico Digital

Post updated on February 28, 2014

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