Christmas magic in Oaxaca: A multi-faceted experience of culture & tradition

articles Culture & Arts

Alvin Starkman

A Voice from Oaxaca
Photo Gallery:Oaxaca culture, crafts and cuisine

Oaxaca is magical — its history, culture, art, architecture and folklore. The traditional Guelaguetza, celebrated in July, is a quintessential expression of Oaxaca tradition. Now, Noches Magicas de Guelaguetza are a uniquely Oaxacan Christmas festivity. Celebrated on December 22 and 23, 2011, the event invites tourists and residents to participate in a variety of cultural experiences.

Facade of the Oaxaca Cathedral © Tony Burton
Facade of the Oaxaca Cathedral
© Tony Burton

Beginning at 5 p.m., participants can

  • Take part in a calenda, or “parade,” with a live band, dancers in colorful regional dress, and fireworks. The parade begins at the Santa Domingo church and ends at a spacious colonial restaurant known as Fuego y Sazón in the quaint Jalatlaco neighborhood of downtown Oaxaca
  • Sample Oaxacan chocolate, the state’s renowned coffee, and of course different types of mescal
  • Speak with well known artisans who display naturally dyed wool rugs, alebrijes (whimsical brilliantly painted carved wooden animals), hand-embroidered blouses and dresses, Oaxaca’s renowned black pottery, cotton table cloths and draperies, and hand-painted clay figures
  • Treat the palate to a traditional Oaxacan dinner with just enough gastronomic flare to titillate the senses
  • Listen to a Oaxacan singer whose repertoire includes songs in both Spanish and Zapotec, the predominant indigenous language of the region
  • Marvel at a Guelaguetza, the celebration of Oaxaca’s 16 native cultures through dance, dress, song and humor

“I want people, in one single evening, to be able to take part in and learn as much as possible about Oaxaca — its gastronomic excellence, its music and dance, its color and pageantry, its diversity of crafts, and of course its signature chocolate, coffee and mescal,” says Eric Monrroy, who developed the concept.

“Many visitors to Oaxaca plan to spend only two or three days in the city. They are unaware of the region’s rich offerings until they arrive and it’s too late to change their travel plans. Some visit Oaxaca in a whirlwind tour of several Mexican cities, while others visit the city for a day or two as part of a beach vacation in Huatulco or Puerto Escondido.”

“We hope this event will be held three or four times a year,” Monroy continues. “In only a few short hours we can expose visitors to an extensive array of Oaxaca’s traditions. Even local residents come out to rejoice and enjoy, largely because of our sense of pride in who we are.”

Tickets are 500 or 600 pesos depending on seat location in the restaurant, but each ticket has a 200-peso voucher attached that can be redeemed at the event toward the purchase of crafts, mezcal, chocolate or coffee. This brings the effective ticket price to only 300 or 400 pesos. Tickets are available at tourism offices and kiosks, travel and tour agencies, Aerotucan offices and other select locations.

Published or Updated on: December 6, 2011 by Alvin Starkman © 2011
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