Cervantino International Festival: Meeting of lovers of Fine Arts
Guanajuato is one of those cities with a unique, particular soul that has remained untouched over the centuries; so much that it was recognized as Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1989. And we do not only refer to its convoluted architecture of tunnels and alleys, the mystery of its mummies and the warmth of its people, but we refer to that environment where culture is breathed in every square centimeter.
This is why it is almost natural for Latin America’s largest artistic-cultural festival to be celebrated in these lands. The Cervantino International Festival takes place during the month of October and has become the meeting point for lovers of fine arts, where every year it is possible to enjoy dance, music, theater and art.
A little history
One of the secrets of Cervantino is that it was brewing at the University of Guanajuato. In 1953 Enrique Ruelas created an annual event called Entremeses by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, where the short works of this author were represented in public spaces. In 1972, this initiative mutated the Cervantino Colloquium, where the Entremeses event will be expanded.
Around that same time, President Luis Echeverría attended various cultural festivals in Europe and expresses his desire to trace the format in Mexico and his cousin, the famous actress Dolores del Río, tells her that she has seen that in Guanajuato. This would be the spark that would inject government interest and support to an event that, until then, had only a local reach. In 1972 a great festival is made, which would count with the participation of many national and international artists.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the custom of choosing a Mexican state and a foreign nation as guests of honor has been established. The artistic shows have diversified, giving space not only for theater, dance and classical music, but for modern and popular proposals. This has made it a must for young backpackers, culture-loving travelers and people who want to spend a few days in a culture and party bubble.
Tricks to get the most out of Cervantino
The main attraction are the shows that are offered in squares, theaters and other spaces. The Cervantino Festival comprises a great variety of performances, concerts and works. The first thing you should do is check the program on the official website and see which ones interest you and what you want to see. From this you can create your itinerary. Do not forget to request a printed program as soon as you arrive at one of the kiosks of cars distributed in the city.
Remember that it is possible to buy tickets in advance through the festival website. Prices range from 200 to 400 Mexican pesos (between 10 to 20 US $). If you travel with a limited budget, you should know that in front of the Plaza de las Ranas (known as the pastitos) they usually present some free dance and theater events; while in the Alhóndiga de Granaditas they make musical concerts. Arrive early so you have a good seat.
Get to know the city:
Between the hours of the events you will attend, take the opportunity to explore the city. Guanajuato will not disappoint you: you can visit the tunnels, meet the mummies, walk through the alley of the kiss, El Pípila and, if you want to go a little further, La Olla dam is an excellent destination, where you can take a boat tour and appreciate its architecture.
If you are a foreigner or you are in a large group, you may be interested in going to an alley. This is a walk through some of the 3600 alleys of the city, enlivened by the music of the students and the accurate compass of an expert guide, who will reveal the secrets and details of each corner of the city.
El Cervantino is a festival that attracts a large number of young people from all corners of the country and around the world, so it is not surprising that during that time the nightlife is active and varied. You can explore bars and clubs, meet people from all over the world and live a multicultural and adventure-rich party. One tip: avoid drinking liquor in the streets, because you can get in trouble with the police.
You can eat in one of the many famous restaurants in the city, the offer is wide and quality but if you are interested in saving and / or try authentic regional food we recommend you visit the Hidalgo Market and in the process you take a walk. Do not forget that adage that says you only know a real city when you visit its market and its cemetery. Do not neglect the little streets or restaurants in Plaza de San Fernando.
How to get to the Cervantino Festival?
If you come from another country you should know that Guanajuato has a good international airport, where many recognized airlines arrive and it will not be a problem to get a connection. Now, if you are in CDMX, you have many options at your disposal, because Guanajuato is less than 5 hours away (about 360 km).
You can hire a trip on buses that leave from the Central of the North of the City for a very reduced price, especially if it is a package aimed at students. In fact, it is possible to find offers published in the different universities of the country, as it is a popular destination among students. It seems that renting a car or using your own is a good plan, but it is impractical, as many streets are closed, there are few places to park (and they get very expensive) and moving will result in a nightmare.
The best option is to go by bus and use public transport (Uber, taxis and trucks) to get around the city. If you plan your accommodation in time, you could stay in the downtown area and you can walk to almost all places.
It is essential to book the accommodation months in advance, because during the festival season prices soar and a room can cost up to US $ 300 per night. While Guanajuato is a tourist city with many hotel and guest house options, consider hiring an AirBnB or a room in a private home or a little outside the city if you want to save.
If you want to take advantage of the trip and soak up everything Guanajuato has to offer, you can consider arriving a couple of days in advance or staying a few more days. This will not only allow you to avoid the chaos of the crowds that enter or leave the city, but you can spend a little more time to fall in love with history and culture in any of its alleys.