Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

Day of the Charro

At a Glance

In Mexico, the land of 10,000 fiestas, even the cowboys get their own national holiday.

More Info

Not all cowboys are the same.

A charro is someone who specifically practices the centuries-old sports art of la charrería, while a vaquero is what we’d use to describe a “cowboy.”

Though the official Día del Charro is September 14, in Ajijic it’s usually observed the Sunday before the September 16 Independence Day holiday.

2018 Event Information

This year in Ajijic, el Día del Charro was on Sunday, September 9. (2019’s event will be held on September 15.) The day begins around 11:30 a.m. as the cowboys and escaramuzas arrive at San Andrés Church. This is the one time of the year that horses are allowed on this outdoor atrium. A special mass begins at 12 p.m. and lasts an hour while the majority of the cowboys and cowgirls remain outside on their horses. The parade starts at 1 p.m. and ends about an hour later.

Parade Route

The parade starts in the courtyard outside San Andrés Church and proceeds west on Hidalgo until it reaches Seís Esquinas (Six Corners) and then heads back east on Ocampo. In 2018, the parade ended at the malecón instead of the lienzo charro ring.

After the parade, there might be balet folklórico dancers and mariachi or other activities before the charros invite everyone to eat lunch.

This year, in 2018, some of Mexico’s best bull riding teams will visit from Michoacán and Zacatecas to put on a performance at 4:30 p.m. in the bullring. A translator will be there to translate everything from Spanish and provide background about what you are seeing.

Tickets for this event are $80 pesos presale or $100 if you buy them at the door.

Día del Charro Ajijic schedule 2018

You can buy tickets at Frutería Barragán on the highway in Ajijic:

Or with Beto Peréz at #39 Hidalgo in Ajijic:

In other years, when there is no paid afternoon performance, there are free events in the bullring later in the afternoon: usually a charrería exhibition and cowboy games, such as throwing darts at targets while galloping on horseback.

Last updated December 23, 2018

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Photos of Day of the Charro

Escaramuzas Minnie Klein and her daughter, Talea, ride their horses on the atrium of San Andrés Church on el Día del Charro.

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Rodrígo Castañeda and his daughter, Paola, use their sombreros to keep the morning light off their faces.

Escaramuzas enter the church at the start of the special mass held for El Día del Charro.

Escaramuzas help each other with their sombreros.

Two kids sit outside the church during the mass.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Aztec Dancers on Mezcala Island

Aztec Dancers on Mezcala Island

Sergio Hernández and Kode Rodríguez perform a dance in the ruins of an old fort on Mezala Island in Lake Chapala.

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A boy takes a photo of the charros.

Escaramuza Paloma Ortíz and her daughter.

After the mass ends at 1 p.m., the charros go on a desfilé (parade) through Ajijic.

Escaramuza teams come from Guadalajara and nearby towns to take part in the parade and the day's other events.

Each escaramuza team has a distinct dress color.

A girl dressed as an Adelita during the Revolution Day parade in San Antonio Tlayacapan, which always celebrates Revolution Day the Sunday after November 20 (which in 2018 is November 25). Their parade starts a few blocks west of the plaza in San Antonio at 9 a.m.

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A chihuahua refuses to budge from its spot in the sun as escaramuzas ride in the parade.

Everyone can be a charro. A man rides in the parade with his son, who is physically disabled.

Gaby Gucho rides in the desfilé.

A boy snatched from the crowd goes for a ride during the parade. Carrying the charro tradition from generation to generation is a priority for the older members of the charros association.

Juan Flores bears the Mexican flag while riding his horse in the desfilé.

A young charro on his horse.

A little cowboy wipes the sleep from his eyes while waiting for the mass to end.

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Charros gather round to socialize before lunch.

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Charros, escaramuzas, friends, and family eat birría (goat stew) for lunch after the desfilé.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Frida Kahlo Catrina

Frida Kahlo Catrina on the Day of the Dead

A woman dressed as a catrina of Frida Kahlo on the Day of the Dead in Chapala, Mexico.

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A teenage charro from a youth charro school in Tlajamulco, Jalisco, coils his lasso during an exhibition on the Día del Charro in 2017.

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A boy keeps busy and practices how to manipulate a lazo.

A charro plays a game of darts. First the charro gallops past the dartboard with the dart in his hand...

...and then makes a 180 degree turn before he gallops past it again and throws the dart.

An altar for friends and family members, including a teenager, made by his grandmother, Beatriz.

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Juan Flores, right, and his opponent play a game of pollo (chicken). The winner is the one who's left holding the chicken at the end of the race. In the past, a real live chicken would have been normally used.

The charro on the left in this round is the winner.

A charro throws his lazo during one of the roping exhibitions.

Boys climb the walls of the bullring.

A vendor slices crispy chicharron (fried pork rind) to sell to the crowd.

Mariachi Axixic Real performs in the grandstand of the bullring with the town's delegado on guitar. (Each municipio (county) in Mexico has an alcalde or mayor, and towns in those municipalities have delegados.)

Sometimes there is a balet folklórico performance with mariachi in the afternoon at the bullring.

Charros get a bull ready for one of the games.

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The Virgin of Zapopan Visits Chapala

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See this Photo Essay

People use their sombreros and gorras (ball caps) to shade themselves while they watch the charro games in the bullring.

A dog watches an escaramuza ride her horse.

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San Cristóbal de las Casas: Mexico’s Rebellious State in the South

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See this Photo Essay

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

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