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