Revised on September 12, 2013
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Every September, known as El Mes de la Patria (The Month of Our Nation,) cities throughout Mexico host a series of colorful and patriotic festivities celebrating the events and people that eventually resulted in Mexico's Independence.
But here in Puerto Vallarta, the celebrations are unbeatable. On every street corner there are vendors selling flags, balloons, sombreros and rehiletes, all in the national colors of red, white and green - and, as is tradition, the city celebrates the occasion with plenty of festivities, entertainment and activities for tourists and residents to enjoy from September 13th through the 16th.
The celebrations start at 9 am on Friday, September 13th with a civic ceremony to honor Los Niños Héroes (the Boy Heroes of Chapultepec) - complete with a roll call, wreath and honor guard, in the main square of El Pitillal.
Friday night you'll enjoy a potpourri of Mexican music at the lighthouse stage on the Malecón, starting at 6 pm with local performers entertaining the crowds with Ranchero and Mexicano music, followed by a 8 pm presentation by the Alas Singing Academy, and a repertoire of music to dance to - including Danzon, Salsa, and Merengue - presented by 'Chocolate' and 'Palomar' at 9 pm.
On Saturday the 14th, El Día Nacional del Charro (National Charro Day) is celebrated. At 10:30 am, more than 100 members of La Unión de Asociaciones de Charros de Puerto Vallarta (the Union of Puerto Vallarta Charros Associations) will parade through town with great clamor.
At 6 pm, the Charro groups will present Floreo de Salón, an exhibition with an assortment of displays along the Malecón, while a variety of musicians, like Blanca Vidal, Ramiro Hernández, and Eli Vázquez add to the festivities by performing regional Mexican music on the lighthouse stage.
Later that evening (sometime between 7-8 pm), the 2013 Miss Vallarta final competition will take the stage, where six beautiful young women will compete for the 2013 Fiestas Patrias crown, and Mariano Barba will perform.
But Sunday, September 15th, or the eve of Independence Day, is when the celebration really begins, as Vallarta commemorates the first and most significant episode of Mexico's history: Independence from Spain. The activities begin early, with a Civic Ceremony and Flag Raising to the National Anthem at the Agustín Flores Contreras Sports Stadium at 8:00 am.
Singers Sergio Padilla, Anel del Valle, and Martín Madero will perform Mexican music on the Lighthouse Stage starting at 6 pm, and at 9 pm the Vallarta Azteca' folkloric ballet will add their talent to the city's Independence Day celebrations.
Just before 11 pm, everyone gathers together downtown in front of La Presidencia, (the municipal government building) in La Plaza Principal to witness a dramatization of the bell tolling and the call to arms in which the mayor impersonates priest Miguel Hidalgo, the "Father of Independence."
As the clock begins to strike eleven, silence falls over the citizens as Mayor Ramón Guerrero Martinez steps forward to ring the symbolic liberty bell and give El Grito de Dolores, met by the crowds’ response of "Viva Mexico!" and "Viva la independencia!" in an emotion-packed traditional annual ritual.
The ceremony reaches the high point when the crowd joins in proudly shouting out the names of the heroes of Mexico's Independence. When the grito ceremony ends, the sky lights up with multi-colored fireworks, followed by traditional Mexican dancers and musical groups, including Mariachis, on the Malecón and Los Arcos Amphitheater.
September 16th is a National Holiday, similar to July Fourth in the United States. Most people have the day off from work so they can enjoy the traditional parade that starts at 10 am and winds through the streets of downtown Vallarta.
On Monday evening, the entertainment moves to Los Arcos del Malecón, where 'La Boquita' will perform at 5 pm, followed by local singers Karla Yolanda, Paulino Ávalos, and Martín Rodríguez at 6 pm, and at 8 pm the Xiutla Municipal Folkloric Ballet will bring the festivities to a close with a series of traditional Mexican dances.But the fun doesn't stop there! To liven up the patriotic celebrations, many restaurants feature special El Mes de la Patria menus to keep the party going - making this long weekend a great time to visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!