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 on a nearby weekend around the September 16 Independence Day holiday.

2019 Event Information

The president of Ajijic’s charros association has informed me that this year there won’t be a parade for the Day of the Charro in Ajijic since the Regata de Globos falls on the same day and Independence Day celebrations take place on September 15 and 16. There will be a Día del Charro mass at Church San Andrés at 12 p.m. on Sunday, but this year there will not be any horses waiting outside the church during the mass, which is what usually happens.

You can still probably catch Chapala’s celebrations around mid-morning to noon on September 14 on Francisco Madero Avenue. And on September 16, you can see all the charros during the Independence Day parade in Ajijic at 10 a.m.

Normally in Ajijic, el Día del Charro 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

In 2019, there will not be a parade. Normally, though, 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.

Then 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 September 22, 2019

Dane Strom

Dane Strom The Lakeside Guide

I moved to Ajijic in 2010 when I decided to quit my job of seven years as an editorial assistant at The Denver Post in Colorado. I'm the photographer, web designer, programmer, marketer, writer... the everything behind this website, The Lakeside Guide. All of the businesses on this website appear here for free at no cost to them. If you find this site useful, please consider giving a small donation to become a site patron. Learn more about The Lakeside Guide or check out my other website about photography of Mexico.

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.

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.

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

Escaramuzas help each other with their sombreros.

Escaramuzas help each other with their sombreros.

Two kids sit outside the church during the mass.

Two kids sit outside the church during the mass.

A boy takes a photo of the charros.

A boy takes a photo of the charros.

Escaramuza Paloma Ortíz and her daughter.

Escaramuza Paloma Ortíz and her daughter.

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

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.

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

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Each escaramuza team has a distinct dress color.

Each escaramuza team has a distinct dress color.

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

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.

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

Gaby Gucho rides in the desfilé.

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.

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.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Masked Zayacos of Ajijic

The Masked Zayacos of Ajijic, Mexico

Masked “zayacos” prowl the town bullring, a unique Carnival-time tradition in Ajijic, Mexico.

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Purchase This Fine Art Print
Juan Flores bears the Mexican flag while riding his horse in the desfilé.

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

A young charro on his horse.

A young charro on his horse.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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 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...

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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Day of the Cowboy
Day of the Cowboy
Boys climb the walls of the lienzo charro.

Boys climb the walls of the lienzo charro.

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

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

Mariachi Axixic Real performs in the grandstand of the lienzo charro with the town's delegado on guitar.

Mariachi Axixic Real performs in the grandstand of the lienzo charro 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 ballet folklórico performance with mariachi in the afternoon at the lienzo charro.

Sometimes there is a ballet folklórico performance with mariachi in the afternoon at the lienzo charro.

Charros get a bull ready for one of the games.

Charros get a bull ready for one of the games.

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

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

A dog watches an escaramuza ride her horse.

A dog watches an escaramuza ride her horse.

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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Purchase This Fine Art Print
A girl dressed as an Adelita during the Revolution Day parade in San Antonio Tlayacapan, which usually celebrates Revolution Day the Sunday after November 20 (which in 2019 is November 24). Their parade starts a few blocks west of the plaza in San Antonio at 9 a.m.

How the Women Soldaderas Helped Win the Mexican Revolution

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See this Photo Essay

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