If you are in Puerto Vallarta during the first 12 days of December, don’t miss one of Puerto Vallarta’s most beloved celebrations, the Festival of Guadalupe. This 12-day long festival celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe (Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,) the patron saint of Mexico.
The festival takes place between December 1st and December 12th as hundreds of people take over the downtown historical zone near the Cathedral of our Lady of Guadalupe. The Cathedral is a well-known landmark in Puerto Vallarta with an elaborate crown in the shape of a tiara on the top.
During this important festival, the streets of Puerto Vallarta become filled with devoted followers making their way through the city in traditional ‘Peregrinaciones‘ (pilgrimages) or processions that start from the corner of Juarez and 31 de Octubre streets and continue to the Cathedral where they place gifts for the Virgin and receive a special blessing from the Priests. Baptisms, confirmations, first holy communions and even weddings take place within the local community to coincide with this special date.
Thousands of people from schools, businesses and communities from PV and surrounding towns come to pay homage to the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the peasant Juan Diego on December 12, 1531. According to legend, she emblazoned her image on Juan Diego’s cloak so he could spread her word. The cloak is still on display at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which was constructed at the site of the miraculous appearance.
During the procession, you will see many banners and colorfully decorated floats carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, pre-Hispanic dancers dressed in traditional native dress, complete with colorful headdresses, folk dance groups, and people singing hymns and songs of praise in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The square in front of the church and nearby streets will be full of street vendors selling sweets, snacks, drinks and traditional Mexican cuisine. On the side streets, you will also find many vendors selling trinkets, handicrafts and souvenirs.
The celebrations end on December 12th. Once the procession reaches the church, a special mass is celebrated followed by mariachi bands and fireworks.
This is another great example of the blended indigenous pagan and Christian rituals. The day has an additional importance as December 12th was also the day in 1851 that that Puerto Vallarta was founded by Don Guadalupe Sanchez.
If you are in Puerto Vallarta during the first weeks of December, come and be a part of this important cultural and religious festival.