May 20 Update: Click HERE for the complete schedule of May Fest 2016 events.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Puerto Vallarta has a long and colorful history. As a natural harbor, privileged with the huge bay that extends from Punta de Mita on the north to Cabo Corrientes on the south, and fed by waters from the rivers and streams that flow to the sea, this area was the seat of pre-Hispanic settlements, which provided rich treasures for the Spanish conquerors.
The village which was to become Puerto Vallarta was founded in 1851 by Guadalupe Sanchez, an enterprising boatman from Cihuatlán, who established a trading post on the banks of the Cuale River to supply salt to the mountain gold and silver mines, whose minerals were transported to this coast for shipping.
Sanchez originally called Puerto Vallarta "Las Peñas de Santa María de Guadalupe" to commemorate his arrival on December 12, the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In 1911, the people of Las Peñas asked the government of the state for the status of municipality, and finally on the 31 of May, 1918, the State Congress decreed to the formation of the municipality, changing the name to Puerto Vallarta to honor an important governor of the State of Jalisco, Don Ignacio Luis Vallarta.
Since then, every year in May, the people of Puerto Vallarta have gathered together at the main plaza in El Centro to celebrate the city's anniversary.
This year, Puerto Vallarta will commemorate its 98th anniversary as a municipality and 48th year as an official city with "May Fest 2016," a week-long celebration that includes cultural events, concerts, dance performances and fireworks, from May 26-31, 2016.
Though all of the program's details have not yet been released, the director of the Instituto Vallartense de Cultura (Puerto Vallarta Institute of Culture), Fernando Sanchez Aceves, said the program will start on Thursday, May 26 at 7:00 pm at the Los Arcos del Malecón open air theater with the "Puerto Vallarta Big Band" playing swing and jazz.
In the following days, he said, a wide variety of entertainment will be presented at different times and on different stages, including the local "Joker Trio Band" (rock & roll); La Cruz de Huanacaxtle's "Tatewari" (Mexican, jazz and flamenco music); the popular Sonora Dinamita; a Huichol group from Ocota de la Sierra, Jalisco; "Sr. Búho" (tapatía jazz band); Banderas Bay's own "Luna Rumba" (Gypsy, Latin, Flamenco, Middle Eastern, Celtic, and Rock with Cuban rhythms); "Guanatos Brass Band" (New Orleans-style jazz); "Pumcayó" (folk and progressive rock); and "Ampersan" which brings together artists from Guadalajara and Pitillal in traditional, electronic and rock music.
The May Fest 2016 program will also include "The Pingo's Orchestra" performing an educational concert for children, and a Meeting of Chroniclers of Puerto Vallarta at the Cuale Cultural Center. (Dates and times TBD.)
On Tuesday, May 31st, the day of Puerto Vallarta's anniversary, activities begin at 10 am with the Solemn Session of the City Council, followed by the traditional cutting of cake. Later that evening, the city puts on a breathtaking fireworks display on the Malecón, literally closing the 2016 anniversary celebrations with a bang.
For additional events and updates, keep checking the Instituto Vallartense de Cultura Facebook page. For more information, call the Vallarta Institute of Culture at (322) 223-0095 / 222-9534 / 113-0107.Editor's Note: If you are fortunate enough to be in Puerto Vallarta during the last week of May, you will definitely have a wonderful and memorable experience. In addition to the city's anniversary celebrations, you can also enjoy the last few days of Vallarta Restaurant Week, and all of the highlight events of Vallarta Pride 2016.