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Festive Guanajuato

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Guanajuato’s two-and-a-half week Festival Internacional Cervantino (early to mid-Oct; wfestivalcervantino.gob.mx) is the city’s top fiesta, a celebration of sixteenth-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes and his most famous character, the hapless romantic, Don Quixote. The festival features performances by international and Mexican musicians, dancers, theatre groups and street-performers, and each year a different region or country is picked to be the focus. The festival has its foundations in the 1950s, when students performed entremeses – swashbuckling one-act plays from classical Spanish theatre – outdoors in places such as Plaza San Roque. These still take place here, and you don’t need good Spanish to work out what’s going on, as they’re highly visual and very entertaining. Guanajuato actually plays host to several boisterous festivals, including the Fiestas de San Juan y Presa de la Olla (June 24), when fireworks, fairground rides and the crowning of the “Reina de las Fiestas” (Queen of the Festivals) take place on the saint’s day at the Presa de la Olla, and the Apertura de la Presa de la Olla (first Mon in July), the traditional opening of the dam’s floodgates to sluice out and clean the city’s riverbed (celebrated by local dances and serenading).

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