Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - One of the most important cultural events of the year in Guadalajara, the birthplace of Mexico's Mariachi tradition, is the International Mariachi and Charro Festival. This year, the festivities will take place from August 27 through September 9 at various venues in and around the city.
Since 1994, some of Mexico's best Mariachis have come to Guadalajara to demonstrate and celebrate this popular style of Mexican music. In addition to Mexico's musicians, Mariachi bands from other countries - such as Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Panama, Slovakia, and Venezuela - travel to Guadalajara each year to compete in this prestigious festival.
The guitars, violins, harps and vihuelas (a five-string guitar of 16th-century origin) originally used by the Mariachi were introduced by the Spaniards. Intended for the celebration of Mass, the instruments were appropriated for popular music that spread satirical and anti-clerical messages.
In the 19th century, Criollos (Mexicans of Spanish descent) bent on eradicating every trace of Spanish colonial presence, supported the mariachis and often employed them on their haciendas. When the hacienda system collapsed after the revolution, the Mariachis took their show on the road, singing of machismo and rebellion while carrying news from town to town.
When Mariachis began playing in public for a fee in the early 1900s, one of their most popular venues was San Pedro Tlaquepaque, a summer retreat for fashionable Guadalajarans. The music spread across the country, but Mariachis from Jalisco state remained the most in demand.
This year's celebration, bringing hundreds of Mariachi bands from around the world to march through the streets of Guadalajara and to perform at Teatro Degollado, Teatro Diana and the Auditorio Telmex also stages an elaborate parade, dinners, outdoor concerts, music workshops and arts and crafts exhibits.
And with a history inextricably tied to Spanish conquest and revolt, Mariachi's themes of love, death, politics and revolutionary heroes, along with set a fitting mood in the days leading up to the country's September 15 Independence Day celebrations.
But that's not all! As Charrerķa continues to be a bond between our traditions and culture that has always drawn worldwide attention, the International Mariachi and Charreria Conference will also feature the 13th Annual National Charro Championships at the Lienzo Charro "Nito Aceves" arena from September 4-9, 2012.
Flashy, well-dressed and reckless, the bronco riding cowboys known as Charros are Mexican icons, displaying a style and macho bravery romanticized in the nation's folk songs, paintings and movies. Their life-risking antics, called Charreria, are rural Mexico's official sport.
Like its rodeo cousin in the United States, Charreria turns cattle farming skills into competitive stunts. Contending teams show off techniques of jumping through the air onto wild mares, riding bucking broncos and bringing down rampaging bulls with lassos.
The Charrerķa tradition gives both Mexicans and those of Mexican descent, a source of pride. The centuries-old practice brings together working skills, training and discipline, horsemanship, music and dance, and symbolic reenactment of Mexican values and customs. In short, it is a celebration of what it means to be Mexican.
Annual events such as the International Mariachi and Charro Festival dazzle the young and old, rich and poor, nationals and tourists alike - so don't miss your chance to enjoy two of Mexico's most beloved traditions in Guadalajara from August 27 through September 9.For more information (in Spanish) on the Mariachi events, including the full schedule and competition registration, visit Mariachi-jalisco.com.mx. For the XIII Charro Championships schedule of events, click HERE.